A few years ago, I stumbled upon a picture of myself in senior kindergarten. The picture made me laugh. In it, is my adorable best friend at the time, Lucia. Her blond hair is pulled into a perfectly pristine bun atop her head, and she’s holding her arms up in the shape of a triangle. She’s dressed in a pale pink leotard and a puffy pink tutu. In the background, there are several other blurry little ballerinas.

Beside my adorable counterpart, I stand proudly, as quite a sight to see. My dark brown hair is exploding messily from beneath a tall red hat. I’m dressed in a square red jacket with big golden buttons. My swollen cheeks protrude further than the brim of my hat, flushed pink with excitement. Happiness lights up my face.

“Why am I dressed like a boy?” Was my initial reaction when I saw the picture several years after its capture. While Lucia looks delicate and adorable, I’m brute and obtuse. The gender roles in the costumes are glaring. I had trouble looking past them as an adult. All I could think was that as a girl, I should be dressed in the sweet girly costume too, shouldn’t I?

The truth is, I don’t remember much about the circumstances surrounding that Christmas pageant. I don’t remember if we danced or sang. I don’t even remember going on stage to perform. I don’t know if this was before or after I developed my mild stage fright.

The one thing I do remember, however, is that I was given the choice. I remember I wanted to be what I thought was a soldier, though I can’t recall why. Maybe I liked red. Or maybe the costume reminded me of my grandmother’s Christmas decorations. Maybe at 4 years old, I didn’t actually have reasoning behind my decision, though I doubt that’s the case. Regardless, I remember I chose to be a nutcracker, and from the picture it’s evident that I was extremely happy about it.

Reflecting upon it now, I wonder if any other girls opted to be nutcrackers, or boys to be sugarplum fairies. I just don’t remember.

The most important thing I do remember is that it really didn’t matter. I remember making the request to the teacher to be a nutcracker, and then I was a nutcracker. It wasn’t a political statement or pointed debate. My teachers, nor my parents, ever gave me any indication that my life was anything but a series of my own choices to make. Nobody cared. It was a nonissue. As it should be. This was in 1994.

As I delve deeper into feminist literature and the continuous struggle for Women’s Rights around the world, I realize that in 2018, there are several girls who still don’t have these freedoms. I am eternally grateful to have been born in this city, with this family. I’m grateful to have been given all the choices that I have been given. So many little girls won’t ever have the choice to be nutcrackers or fairies. They won’t be in pageants, they won’t even get to dress up. They won’t have many choices at all in life. My heart weeps for those girls.

At the very least, I’m comforted by the fact that there are strong girls out there. Girls that will persevere. Girls that really will choose to be soldiers and lead the march for girls everywhere.

2018

27 thoughts on “The Nutcracker

  1. You have written such a incredible piece for girls to have rights equal to what you have. I know lots of bloggers and readers will be swept up in this story for Girl rights. You have presented an innocent little girl who grew up to become a standard for girls to have rights across the world. We all know some will never have what you have. Lets not stop pushing for those girls to have those rights !!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I enjoyed reading your post. I am a strong believer in causes around the world. Girls rights are at the top of my agenda in my heart and soul. Hope more people read this great post filled with such hope and love !!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A child’s choice should be their own-whether to lead an army or to live la vie en rose, or any combination of the two. This does not mean the overreach of gender reassignment, in each and every case! I have always been delighted to be male; yet I used jacks and a small rubber ball, borrowed from my sister, as one tool to develop hand-eye coordination, when I was ten and eleven.

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    1. My father always tells the story about how when I was really young, I wanted to play with my brother’s toy cars. My grandmother was horrified. And my dad simply responded, “Women drive cars too.”

      I was never explicitly aware that these gender standards were so serious in other countries, until I was old enough to study and learn about it myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Although I played with girls toys, I also liked playing with cars too. I thought it was brill I kept finding the odd toy car in the street, that must have been dropped by another child. After my mum bought me a toy car, my dad was saying in a tone, what you bought that for? and my mum said the exact same thing, women drive cars. Most more was said, but when on cereal boxes there was a chance to save tokens and post them off for one of the cars on offer, on the back of the cereal box, my dad helped collect them all for me.

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  3. Thanks for this wonderful piece on girls rights. I, too, was fortunate to be able to make my own choices as to toys and roles as a child (definitely Tonka trucks and Hotwheels over dolls!)
    I don’t like war, but it was interesting to watch a documentary on the liberation of Kurds in Kobani, Syria and find that the resistance was led by women, not men.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would give me a problem if all girls ignored gender stereotyping, because then there would be no point in the ones in some of my stories who outdo the boys.
    I enjoyed writing in my ‘Regina’ about the consternation caused by a discovery that she was the ‘Champion Knight’ ordained by the magic of that world.

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  5. I have had this issue lately unfortunately my daughter is sick and in the hospital…but now here’s the kicker there are kids there that never see their parents its true my daughter told us story after story….so the other day we are leaving after visiting hrs were over and some kids were outside playing and they all stopped to look at us my heart just dropped and I knew why they were looking at us and for the life of me I can’t get that image out of my head…….so its kind of a picture that tells a story…..thanks for visiting
    See you on the other side of creativity
    As Sheldon Yoursly

    Liked by 1 person

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