birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

My Daughter

Shopping for clothes for my baby girl didn't start when she was born. Too many baby gifts and a weird box of my old baby clothes sent to me by my mom meant Hayley was six months old before I confronted the issue of choosing how my daughter would feel in her clothes, be seen by the world around her, and how it all reflected back on me.

Memories of how clothes felt on me as a kid popped into my head. As I looked at the racks of beautiful baby dresses I saw torture chambers. Tight. Itchy. Scratchy. Limiting. How do little girls ever learn to crawl if they are stuck in dresses?

My rule would be comfort. Hayley grew up wearing overalls so she didn't have to change her natural movement or have something tight around her middle. Dresses were for special occasions only. And the fewer of those, the better. She was often mistaken for a little boy, choosing their messy fun over the less physically demanding "playing house."

At one point in preschool, Hayley proudly proclaimed, "I'm a boy!" I don't remember what I said, but I clearly recall sharing her pride. She was free of the shackles of the female ideal.

Being a woman had never seemed a burden. Any sexism I experienced, I refused to acknowledge, the luxury of cruising behind a generation of barrier breakers and fierce warrior women who fought for my right to be oblivious of my gender.

With my daughter, I confronted the one thing that had always quietly gnawed at me: the physical limitations of being a girl. The clothes and shoes that don't allow you to run to catch the bus. The bikinis that keep you sitting on the sand rather than playing tackle football at the beach. The makeup that smears when you are tired.

As my daughter grew up, my own wardrobe changed. Flats, no heels. Pants rather than dresses. No makeup. I couldn't control how the world would treat Hayley, but I could teach her to treat herself with love and respect. I could teach her how to see herself as autonomous and powerful. And I could do the same for myself as well.

Not sure