What Do Feminist Preschoolers Wear? The Backwards Dress Installment

My daughter dresses almost exclusively in hand-me-downs (score!). Many of her clothes are things the adult females in her midst wish just came in shopping bags their ways, only bigger.

However it goes, Saskia always finds ways to make clothes all hers. The most recent example is the very pretty, somewhat dressy navy blue dress* with the ruffles in the … front (and the zipper in the… back). Or not.


True confession: not infrequently when she’s in a stripes and stripes combo and someone inquires about whether she outfits herself the stripes and stripes come courtesy of her mama. All those years her next-up brother only wanted the plainest clothing or the brother up from that only wanted soccer jerseys must have steeped my inner-stripy.

Even truer confession: about half the time, I take personal credit for her wild ways that are my ways and about the half the time, I just nod.

Ultimately, I believe we’re on the same page, she and I, about all this; let her have fun. She’s four. There really isn’t a way she should look right now.


A couple of days ago, I read about this Kickstarter that uses room design to encourage spatial thinking for girls—think of this as another wrinkle on the giant gendered Lego kerfuffle that began with the assumptions channeled through the choices made by the company about the ways and color schemes girls would buy—and the ensuing uproar. I realized the dollhouse, which I’d placed in her bedroom, isn’t getting any play. Hmmm…

The person in the house I thought would be most jazzed by the Kickstarter is my 14 year-old son, the chef and aspiring pantry designer (we’re converting an underutilized coat closet into a pantry, and he’s got big ideas for the household pantry reorganization project).

* Saskia has the dress on at her pal Emily’s sixth grade graduation and she’s with Em’s sister, Arella. Arella put her beautiful dress on for the occasion. Saskia neared the end of day two with hers.

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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