because little girls should dress like little girls

When I found out I was expecting a little girl, over 3 years ago now, I was so excited.

I was excited for all of the right reasons.  I grew up one of 4 sisters and I cherish the powerful bonds that can form between women, as well as the bond I have with my own mother.

But, I was also excited for less noble reason.  Although boys’ toys are more fun than girls’, girls win when it comes to clothes.  And I couldn’t wait to have my own little girl to dress up.  From the first moment the ultrasound technician confirmed that my baby was a girl I was already picturing her is a sweet little Christmas dresses in the years to come.

Am I vain, or can you relate?

Just over 3 years ago our little Bernadette was born and we’ve been having fun getting dressed ever since.  It is likely no surprise that she loves dressing up more than most anything.  In fact, she has worn fancy dresses while playing in dirt piles and helping her cousins walk pigs around the farm just because she refuses to wear anything else.

I’m not complaining.  We have a lot of fun, but there is one thing that frustrates me.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a dress for a little girl that looks like it is for a little girl.  As an infant and toddler this wasn’t a problem.  Every dress I found was all tulle and cuteness, but as we get into the bigger sizes I’m a bit taken aback at how grown up some of the dresses are.  Sorry but I don’t want my little 3 year old in spaghetti straps and a short skirt.  She’s 3.  She should look like a 3 year old.

Little Girls Bernadette

This touches on a bigger concept of course, one that is central to raising girls: modesty.

During marriage prep our pastor had us read a guide to Love and Responsibility by Pope John Paul II, written by Edward Sri (it’s here, and it’s excellent).  In that book JPII speaks to modesty and argues something that, at the time, offended my unconscious feminist.  He states that it is a woman’s responsibility to dress modestly so as not to lure men into temptation.  That, in many ways, it was a woman’s responsibility to make sure men never look at her objectively.

What was revolutionary in this argument (and at the time a little offensive) was the idea that women were, in a way, at fault for the fantasies and lustful natures of men.  And that made me mad.  I mean, I just wanted to be pretty and feel sexy.  It’s not my fault you’re some sort of a sex-manic and can’t control yourself!  JPII doesn’t let men off the hook, of course, and challenges them to purity of thought as well as deed.  But, unlike anything I had ever read before, he points the finger squarely at women as well.

So I got mad, I talked about this with my to-be-husband, my pastor and then I started to understand.  It was my purity at stake, my value as something more than an object.  If I wasn’t going to protect it and keep it shrouded and guarded and holy for my beloved, than who would?

I began to recognize my confusion.  Somehow, somewhere along the way I had come to believe that women should long to be beautiful and that beauty had an undercurrent of sexy in it.  I believed that it was good to show a little skin–it kept you from being a prude.

Little Girls Dress

I guess what I am trying to understand and live (and someday teach my daughter) is that women should embrace beauty, but that beauty and sexy are not the same thing.  We are God’s final creation, his most complex and beautiful creature and we should live our lives knowing that…but we should also live our lives actively protecting what we are.

As usual I have taken a simple topic–a Christmas dress for my sweet Bernadette–and gone off the deep end.  But, even at 3 years old I feel like the battle for her purity and modesty has begun.

She is a beautiful, vibrant, spunky little 3 year old.  I want her to look like a 3 year old, feel like a 3 year old and be treated like a 3 year old.  I have no desire for her to dress like a mature woman, because she isn’t one and won’t be one for some time.

So, I’ve searched for a wonderful Christmas dress that is appropriate for her age and celebrates her beauty, because it really should be celebrated!

And I finally found one we both love.

I found this sweet Christmas dress at Girls Dress Shop.  I actually had a difficult time selecting one as there were so many cute Christmas dresses to choose from–how I only bought 1 I will never know.  I love this one because it is festive, warm (we live in Minnesota) and easily appropriate for Mass.  And she loves it too because it flies up in the air when she spins around and it sparkles.

Little Girls Dressses

I know my kids won’t always be as pure and sweet as they are now.  I know I will have arguments and battles with Bernadette about bikinis and halter tops and cut-off shorts in the coming years but right now she is 3.  And she is a terrific 3 year old.

Thanks for being here!

Any tips from you experienced mommas on keeping your girls modest?  I’m a rookie and I’d love your insights!

Name Picture

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