Life Design Action: Steampunk Your Princess
Does not require: Anything pink
On Friday 13th I delivered the 2nd part of the Gorgeousness Programme to a group of teenage girls. This involved 1-1 sessions, during which I began to observe the extent to which young people today are controlled by their looks. Every girl – irrespective of their attractiveness – was internally tortured by what they perceived as their own physical imperfections and was on a desperate quest to overcome these imperfections. For each young woman their desire for physical self improvement was massively limiting their potential.
As parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and siblings, how can we help our little ladies grow into amazing women who are destined to play BIG in this world? How can we steer them away from the media-sold ideal of becoming another pore-less princess with tattooed eyebrows, mute on every level bar the visual?
Rethinking the Christmas gifts we give them is a pretty good start.
On 13/12/13 Pix turned 13.
She is now officially a teenager, which is …
… a little disconcerting.
Looking back, I was completely off-the-rails and a wild-child who tortured her parents with endless shenanigans aged 13. So, when considering the innocence and serenity of the Pix, I silently thank the gods. Yesterday we did our usual tradition for birthdays. I crept downstairs early and decorated the kitchen with balloons, streamers and table confetti. Then Pix’s gifts and cards were piled in a regal stack. I also found some shiny purple and gold venetian masks so when she came down from her room, everyone was lurking around like strange masked dancers in the ball scene on Labyrinth.
Initially Pix was mildly disturbed by the welcome. Then disturbance gave way to happiness. She opened her gifts, ate a stack of pancakes cooked by Ads, dressed in her funky new birthday clothes delivered at 7am by Nanny G, blew out the candles on a luxurious chocolate extravaganza baked again by … yes … Ads, twirled off to school in a cloud of birthday-girl self importance and with the promise of sleep-overs and 3D Hobbit viewings at Cineworld that night.
I am so relieved and happy that she had such a gorgeous day.
And now it’s all over I get to face my usual Dec 14th dilemma titled,
Right. What The Heck Do I Get Pix For Xmas Now Her Birthday Is Over?
Having a sprog born right before Christmas when you are already spending a fortune on gifts is one thing, but having a daughter who is born right before Christmas and is now a teenager and no longer plays with toys is Even More Difficult. And once one has exhausted gift-creation reserves for a birthday, one is suddenly faced with the ordeal of trying to work out what to get them for Christmas as well.
Pix is no help.
I say to her, “Pix what would you like for Christmas?”
And she replies, “I don’t know. I’ve got everything that I want. I guess I’m at that funny age where I’ve grown out of toys.”
Then she wanders off.
Pix truly has no idea the angst and nail-biting stress that finding her the right gifts creates in me. She has no concept that due to already owning a phone, a laptop, an ipod and music system that other options are thin on the ground. Ever since she was little I’ve tried my hardest to steer away from toys that would funnel her solely towards being pretty, passive and obsessed with fashion and make-up . Yet now, with Pix as a young teenager, my choices of gifts for her are slimmed down to … well … size 0 …
Aside from her main gift, a sporty gift and some books, I’ve barely bought her a thing. The choice I have appears to be little more than candy pink make up sets, clothes, bath stuff, perfume and jewellery.
Is there anything out there for girls that doesn’t involve accessorising or objectifying?
It’s sending me a bit doo-lally.
If you have some ideas, I’d really love to hear them.
The other day I found myself striding around the shops looking for something that wouldn’t initiate Pix into a world of complete body objectification. I wanted something that allowed her an experience of creativity and empowerment. Something … BEYOND pink.
Headed into Waterstones and stood for some time in front of the various shelves. Fingered my way through the arts/craft section;
“Design your own shoe collection!”
“Become a fashion designer!”
“My Fabulous Fashion.”
“Fashion Model; Design your own catwalk collection!”
Er … no.
Then, tucked right at the very end, I noticed THIS book.
Er … yes!
This little book is jam packed full of amazing Steampunk creations – some to wear, some to display. It is cool, quirky, creative and it is not PINK. I quickly purchased it then began an on-going mission to supply Pix with everything she needed to become a Steampunk Inventor of Gorgeousness.
First I got a box with lots of different compartments.
I also found a proper watch-maker/menders kit so that she can pick up all of the intricate cogs and pieces from inside any timepieces she dismantles!
The next job was to begin filling the compartments of the box with all sorts of trinkets and curiosities that she can use to make her Steampunk pieces. Many of these Ads has been purchasing through Ebay (unknown to him) and then much to his surprise they’ve been arriving in little brown packages. Thanks Ads, you lovely thing!
Clock faces, hands and keys …
Velvet ribbons, wire and components for joining things …
I LOVE this Pix Present so much!! Such unexpected treasure.
It’s going to stretch her creativity, her horizons and her imagination. It doesn’t lock her into a small world of pink and princesses or hair curlers and diamond cat jumpers. And yeah – I may have gotten her a few little bits and bobs to experiment with her “look” – ie. nail varnish and a few little things, but they are more like paper confetti around the doorway to gifts that offer the REAL keys to INDIVIDUALITY, SELF AWARENESS, CREATIVITY AND CONFIDENCE.
Finally, I just had to find and post a clip of this scene from the ball scene in Labyrinth because after mentioning Venetian masks on Pix’s bday morning, I can’t get it out of my head. What’s mad is that I’ve just watched it and there’s an amazing symbolic connection to this post: Sarah is drugged by a piece of fruit that lulls her into an enchanted ball. She is dressed in a beautiful gown and adorned in jewels. Yet underneath the folds of fabric, she is wearing jeans and a t-shirt and finally, realising she’s under a spell … smashes the princess bubble and gets back on with her true goal …
I’m dedicating this to all the girls on my Gorgeousness Programme – in the absolute belief that they are going to break the bubble too.
Please click this, watch it and tell me what you think.