The Beautiful Girlhood Doll, part 3: Femininity and Grace

The truly beautiful girl is one who radiates that inner grace which only comes from the confidence in being a woman of God. She enjoys dressing like a lady and being about the business of women. Because of this, others think of her with respect. Her very comportment communicates a gentle, gracious spirit.

My siblings and I learned early on that boys and girls had separate roles in life. Boys were to be protectors and providers and girls were to be mothers and homemakers. Mom taught my sisters and me that women might work outside the home before marriage, but not afterwards. Mom told us the story of how when she was in elementary school, she was asked by a teacher what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she answered, “a mommy.” Her teacher told her that she could be a mommy, but that she could be something else as well. Mom said that was the lie of feminism – that girls could be mothers and have careers. We knew better than that.

My mother wanted my sisters and I to learn to be graceful and gracious. Unfortunately, I was an extremely awkward child and was given to talking loudly. Mom had me take ballet for a year in order to learn to be graceful, and she led my sisters and I through a program called Charm Course, where we learned what kinds of clothing clashed, how we should carry ourselves, and the importance of understanding body language. These things didn’t completely cure my of my awkwardness and suddenly make me into a lady, but mom was definitely trying.

My siblings and I loved Vision Forum’s American Boys Adventure catalogue and Beautiful Girlhood catalogue, and scarce a Christmas went by without presents from Vision Forum. From wrist rockets to crochet samplers, we had it all. While I dutifully stitched several samplers, something my mom said every good lady must do, I also enjoyed making turning our backyard into a pirate’s cove and sticks into swords with my brothers. We children were very creative and imaginative in our play, and we lived in the country and had plenty of space to roam. We had many adventures, aided by our Vision Forum wrist rockets and our healthy imaginations. It was out there in the wilds that the distinctions between boys and girls seemed to ease and we were all just children climbing trees and having adventures together.

As time went on, though, I stopped playing with my brothers as much and turned to more feminine pursuits. I still remember the day my dad told me that I was too old to wrestle with my brothers. To me, that signaled something. I was no longer a child – I was turning into a young woman. I read a lot, and I also learned to sew, crochet, and knit. My brothers resented me for not playing with them, but I saw it as part of growing up. I tried to please them by sewing them a variety of capes and costumes. Meanwhile, when I got together with my girlfriends we had tea parties, played with dollhouses, and watched our younger siblings.

Tea parties were a big event among my friends. We would plan them well in advance, and then dress for the occasion and cook old fashioned food, such as scones or tarts. We would sit up straight, sip tea, and talk about the latest books we were reading, or what we wanted to name our future children. We also spent a great deal of time making furniture and food for our dollhouses. Dollhouses were something of a fad among my girlfriends, and we never ceased to enjoy setting them up just so.

My mother allowed us girls to wear pants as well as skirts, but I liked skirts better. They made me feel feminine and special, and by the time I was a teenager I stopped wearing pants altogether. I took pride in the fact that I wore skirts, only skirts, even in the cold of winter. I also sewed dresses and skirts for myself, and by the time I was in high school, my wardrobe was almost entirely handmade. Some of it was even stitched by hand, as I felt that that somehow made the clothes somehow better, and showed off my talents to the greater advantage.

Above all else, I couldn’t wait to be a wife and a mother. I frequently thought about my wedding day, seeing it as the pinnacle of my existence. A husband and children – that was what I was made for. I could hardly wait for my life to really start. I imagined all of the ways I could meet my future husband, and hoped that it would happen sooner rather than later. In fact, I wished that I lived in pioneer times so that I could marry at fourteen or sixteen and thus maximize my childbearing potential, and even living in the present I hoped I could marry early. How many children would I have, I wondered? More than my mother, I hoped, because I wanted to be the best I could possibly be. I picked out names for my children and planned how I would raise them. I decided that my children would wear only clothes I made for them by hand, and planned to fill a trunk with homemade baby clothes after I married.

For the next installment in this series, click here.

Beautiful Girlhood Doll Table of Contents

 

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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