“Why can’t I buy my daughter a twirly dress that has a dinosaur on it?”
Rebecca was shopping for her two-year-old, who only liked to wear dresses. She had just picked out pajamas – some from the girls’ section with flowers and rainbows, and some from the boys’ section with rockets and dinosaurs. It made her sad and a little frustrated that many of the themes her daughter liked were only available on boys’ clothes.
Within a month, Rebecca and I had founded a company, Princess Awesome, to make dresses with dinosaurs, rockets, and trains – filling a gap that many parents had noticed. We started out with a mission to fill this gap so girls had more clothing options that spoke to their interests. We focused just on dresses, since that was what our own kids liked to wear, and back in 2013 there were literally no dinosaur dresses available at any mainstream store.
Over the last four years, we’ve realized that giving girls clothing that reflects their interests has a much broader impact than we had initially thought it would. We’ve heard from parents all over the world that people talk to their girls differently when they’re wearing a dress with sharks on it – “Awesome sharks! Are you interested in biology?” – or with rockets – “Wow! Do you want to be an astronaut?” – or lab equipment – “Look at all the beakers! What kind of experiments do you like to do?”
Those conversations matter.
- They bolster confidence in girls by affirming their interests. Since the relationship between confidence in a subject and interest in a subject is closely aligned, helping girls feel confident in expressing their interests goes a long way toward keeping them interested. In the long run, that can mean nudging more girls toward studying STEM subjects when they’re older.
- They acknowledge her as a person by focusing on what the girl likes to do rather than how she looks. She feels valued for who she is and not her appearance.
- They bust stereotypes about what “girly” means. Every girl should have the opportunity to decide for herself what it means to be a girl. For some, it’s all sparkles and rainbows and unicorns. For others, it’s dirt and jeans. But for every girl, it’s some combination of all the different things that appeal to her as an individual.
At Princess Awesome, we create clothes that speak to the wide range of girls’ interests – ninja, dinosaurs, flowers, fire trucks, rainbows, math, snowflakes, science – because girls are awesome and deserve choices that reflect those interests.0