What Do Feminist Toddlers Wear? The Un-Previewed Box Of Hand-Me-Down Clothes Installment

True confession: when the eldest was smaller—a knight-intrigued and princess-liking lad—I pulled the slivers of plastic that were swords from the brand-new Playmobil set—and threw all weapons in the trash.

Because, you see, I was against violence. For the record, I still am against violence.

That worked fine, in that he did not notice. He is a head-in-clouds-of-his-mind person in certain ways. The third guy, himself having had a much more major love of Playmobil (especially knights and pirates) knew exactly what belonged in those boxes. I could not have, um, edited a set.

That’s how we ended up with tiny plastic weaponry in our house. In my attempt to clean up the playroom of things that don’t really get played with much (cough, zillions of dollars’ worth of Playmobil) I’ve learned that the wee weapons are kind of cute if you put them all in a jam jar.

Anyhoo—the point of this story is I’m not above or below a little editing. For better or worse, take your pick, we just avoided Captain Underpants entirely (the reason: I didn’t want to read that).


When my friend, Karen, was expecting a daughter, as her friend, Amy had before her by about a year Amy eagerly mailed Karen hand-me-downs by the giant boxful. Actually, the purple shipment disappeared (USPS at your, er, service). Karen called me one afternoon and announced: “A pink bomb arrived at my house today. From Amy.”

And so it was.

The pink bomb came to our house (with a little purple and a lot of monkeys tossed in; Karen’s daughter loved monkeys very precociously and it turns out with enduring loyalty) about a year later when our daughter arrived. I edited the box of certain stiff frills and any truly objectionable onesie (a pick-up a boyfriend want ad on a three-month size onesie—really?).

Our little gal was and is quite often pretty in pink, although not only (well, always pretty).

Karen came through with a box the other day and I didn’t edit up front. Besides the red sparkly ballet shoes (“Marmar sent these because my other ones broke,” Saskia reasoned) her fave hand-me-down item? You guessed it: the Disney Princess bathing suit.

Peggy Orenstein, if you knew about this, you’d be laughing at me, right?


Andie at the awesome feminist parenting blog Blue Milk interviewed me this very week about feminist parenting. I guess feminist parenting in action in this household this week includes some metaphoric swords. Like her brother moved beyond the tiny plastic ones I’m pretty sure my little gal will find new notions of beauty. Someday.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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