Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have given a rare interview about their ‘discreet’ life
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have given a rare interview about their ‘discreet’ life

Holly O'Neill

Harvey Weinstein to be extradited to Los Angeles to face sexual assault charges
Harvey Weinstein to be extradited to Los Angeles to face sexual assault charges

Jennifer McShane

Rob Delaney on grief: ‘I couldn’t believe that my baby had died’
Rob Delaney on grief: ‘I couldn’t believe that my baby had died’

Jennifer McShane

The Spice Girls are releasing a previously unheard track for their 25th anniversary
The Spice Girls are releasing a previously unheard track for their 25th anniversary

Sarah Finnan

Stuck in a life rut and ready for a change? Here’s how to make it happen
Stuck in a life rut and ready for a change? Here’s how to make it...

Niamh Ennis

‘My twin sister had a baby and it’s changed how I feel about motherhood’
‘My twin sister had a baby and it’s changed how I feel about motherhood’

Jennifer McShane

Gucci’s latest interiors collection is a little mystic, a touch retro, and incredibly Gucci
Gucci’s latest interiors collection is a little mystic, a touch retro, and incredibly Gucci

Megan Burns

6 gripping post-#MeToo books made for bedtime reading
6 gripping post-#MeToo books made for bedtime reading

Jennifer McShane

Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal to star in sci-fi film
Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal to star in sci-fi film

Holly O'Neill

Light, flowy trousers for in-between summer days
Light, flowy trousers for in-between summer days

Megan Burns

Image / Editorial

Things Fall Apart: We need to change our relationship with girls’ clothing


by Lia Hynes
19th Nov 2018
blank

When Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves…


For a time after my ex-husband moved out, I considered painting our front door pink.

Inside and out. The outside would be a deep raspberry shade, the inside a paler millennial.

The idea for both was the same; they would declare to the outside world, and celebrate to the inside inhabitants, that this was a girl’s house.

Related: I’m continuing my Gran’s traditions
with my daughter 

Grief makes you do funny things sometimes. This would have been one of them. A busy to-do list full of actual priorities meant it never actually happened.

But these past few weeks (as the choices, the appearance, the clothes of a girl were weaponised against her, in a way a man’s appearance would never be), I was again tempted.

This time as an act of defiance.

All things girly

My four-year-old girl is many things; outgoing, good at making friends, a lover of play, of colouring, of “doing crafts”. She loves to scoot, to go for cycles with Daddy, to eat spaghetti bolognese and carrot cake. In her world, a birthday hasn’t been fully celebrated until carrot cake has been consumed.

She is also a lover of all the things traditionally considered girlish. Makeup (which is face painting, part of dressing-up; in her mind it’s fun, not self-improvement). Painting her nails. Playing ‘going to the salon’. When she was two and a half, she suddenly refused to wear anything but pink, with, grudgingly, some purple, and it had to be a dress. Her wardrobe is where blue chambray dresses (bought hopefully by me) go to die. She is not so hard-line now, but for a time, trousers were totally out.

My daughter’s clothes

For a time, I worried about it. Her pink proclivity. And then I realised it was not coming from me. This was not being pushed upon her from outside. It was coming from her, and why would I quash that? Why would I make negative something she enjoyed, simply because it was deemed girlish. As if girlish was a bad thing.

Related: We’ve adopted our first dog 

When she was a baby, I dressed her mostly in boys’ clothes. Green, grey and navy. It wasn’t intended as a political statement; I simply preferred those colours. And baby girls’ clothes tend towards the ‘frou and the frill’. Boys clothes are more practical. More comfortable. But people still mention it to me.

“Remember when you used to dress her as a boy?” smiling indulgently. I didn’t. That was never the intention. My world was made the day I found out I was having a girl. But that is how much attention is paid to what girls wear. What I put on my baby four years ago is still remembered. Still seen as loaded.

Women’s clothes and shame

In recent weeks, a woman’s underwear was used to victim blame her in a rape case.

A perfectly private choice she’d made was used to shame and blame her; a 17-year-old. They discuss it on the radio as I drive to collect my daughter. “But is there a different message being given to boys that girls don’t realise when they’re getting dressed?” a man muses.

“THERE IS NO MESSAGE,” I scream at the radio, surprising even myself with my anger. I have to turn it off, it’s so enraging.

Related: I’m teaching my child ‘different is normal’

Shame is used against women. To somehow control them. Put the fault of things back on them. Box them in.

This weekend we are going to the ballet – a big family outing to see The Nutcracker. She and I have been planning our outfits all week; they will be as tulle and tutu-inspired as possible – within the boundaries of weather-appropriate (her), and sanity (me).

I dress for me, not men

Women don’t typically dress for men. They dress for how it makes them feel. Most women will more-highly rate a compliment from another woman whose own taste they esteem, than anything a man might say on the matter.

We are not sending messages.

I know that being separated or divorced can be a source of shame. The shame at the failure of a marriage.

Shame is an entirely pointless emotion. A time waster.

Shameless

My daughter’s father, grandfather and uncle are woven throughout the fabric of her daily life; they are some of the most important people in her life. But I am a single female raising a daughter in an all-girls house. And I will not allow her to be shamed. Ever.

Photo: Pexels.com

Also Read

blank
EDITORIAL
Setting mental health boundaries: ‘I didn’t expect the level of anger it caused’

The entitled backlash when someone tries to set their own...

By Amanda Cassidy

Keith-_-Tara_130_Web Shantanu Starick painting kitchen cabinets
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost,...

By Amanda Kavanagh

blank
EDITORIAL
Chrissy Teigen’s past trolling tweets highlight the slut-shaming culture we tolerated

Chrissy Teigen is the queen of oversharing. Usually it’s in...

By Amanda Cassidy

DIY wall murals
EDITORIAL
People are getting creative with their walls in lockdown and we’re dying to give it a go

While staying at home and with plenty of time to...

By Megan Burns

blank
EDITORIAL
Laura Whitmore’s baby name retaliation is about so much more than double standards

The Love Island presenter has divided social media after she...

By Amanda Cassidy

rings
EDITORIAL
Rings that help you draw attention to your newly manicured nails

Rings to help you flaunt your fresh mani? Non-negotiables. Nail...

By Sarah Finnan

blank
EDITORIAL
Nutritionist Daniel Davey’s harissa squash with giant couscous

This is a perfect lunch recipe, and the harissa does...

By Meg Walker