Before I even knew I was having a girl, I was afraid of having a girl — a girl who might think it is totally normal to tell Sue at Nails Noble how she wants her glittery, pink nails to be painted. I feared my Sophie would throw a tantrum over wearing clear Cinderella plastic heels outside the playroom and into the real world. I feared she wouldn’t want to get dirty and play in the mud. And then, I started to feel totally alone. Was I setting myself up to raise a girl like a boy? What did those gender norms even mean?
Once I had Sophie, I never played down the princess stories in the house. I never said "no" to them, but I also never went out and bought the merchandise. My kid wasn’t living in a box, though. Team Disney Princess inundated Sophie starting at a young age, and there was no hiding her from it. I tried to tell her that if you want to be a princess, then you should think about being the queen instead, because she has more power.
But then, Halloween started creeping up on us, and I found myself up at night fretting over the costume. And, yes, it felt trivial to me, and I couldn't believe how much sleep I was losing over it. But, it meant so much to me that my daughter wanted to parade around in a purple gown, a long blond wig, and crown that I made for her.
So, you can imagine my surprise, when on the morning of Halloween, Sophie declared that she wanted to be a knight instead of a princess because “knights have more fun.” My heart grew three sizes.
And then, soon after, I came across a beautiful series of photographs titled “Not Just a Girl,” by Jaime C. Moore. Suddenly, I didn’t feel quite as alone in my concerns around how to raise a little girl in a world of gender stereotyping. The talented photographer had created a range of portraits of her daughter dressed as some of the most powerful women in history. I’m talking Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, and Coco Chanel. Trailblazers, each and every one of them. Flipping through the inspiring images, I realized that I wasn’t alone; that I wasn’t the evil queen trying to rain on the princess parade — that there are women all over the world who support teaching our girls about real women instead of swooning, sleeping beauties with almost no agency.
Even more exciting? This project has created so much buzz that Moore's team has now created a charitable program aptly titled The Not Just a Girl Project, to encourage programs teaching girls about women’s history through photography as well as by documenting the real heroes in our neighborhoods today. Just one more inspiring woman to add to the list, really. Click on through for a look at her kick-butt photographs, and then take to the comments with your thoughts.