By Kimberly Zapata
I’ll never forget the day I found out I was having a little girl. I mean, how could I? My husband and I had waited for that day — for that very visit — for 20 weeks; and while we initially toyed around with the idea of keeping “the bean’s” sex a surprise until birth, I wanted to know. I needed to know, I was dying to know something about the child occupying my stomach.
When the ultrasound technician uttered those words — when she said “it’s a girl” — I smiled and laughed. My husband smiled and kissed me but then, moments later, he paused and swallowed hard. As he later told me, it was then that he thought ahead to all the discrimination she would face in the future. The sexism; the challenges.
In an instant, he realized what “boys would do;” what boys may try do. He heard all the vulgar, obscene, and hurtful words she was destined to hear. He considered the violent misogyny our daughter was destined to face. And while I was still on cloud nine, listening to her heartbeat and watching her little body wriggle around on the screen, the same reality soon settled over me, too. And, like any proud and strong woman, I vowed to do anything and everything to help her. To support her. To protect her.
It started simply enough: I bought her gender-neutral clothes and gender-neutral toys — which is to say that I filled her room with trains and teddy bears, hard wooden puzzles and soft pink bows. (I even bought her brightly colored “boy” LEGOs instead of the pink “girl” ones.) But my baby quickly became a toddler, a little person with her own mind — and her own likes — and before long we were watching Sophia the First together and painting our toenails. Before long, I was reading her stories about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Before long, I was buying her purses and dress shoes and glittery princess dresses. (So. Many. Dresses.)
And before long, I was calling her a princess: my “beautiful princess.”