When I was two or three my mother lovingly made me a pair of overalls with shorts. The fabric had little beetles on it or something equally adorable. My response upon their presentation? NO. Boys wear shorts, and I was a GIRL. I probably didn't come past her knee at the time. What an ungrateful little brat I was.
During my psychology degree there was much discussion of the gender programming we subject children to literally from birth. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Barbies versus Tonka trucks. The ways we encourage play. I had my fair share of pink and dollies, but I also had a big brother (who turned 29 yesterday! Happy birthday!) with whom I played Lego war and block war and Transformer war. We made bows and arrows out of hibiscus branches and rubber bands. It worked the other way too--one year he got a doll for Christmas, because he wanted one. He went to ballet classes.*
But I knew I was a girl, and dammit, all the playing war and little green plastic soldiers couldn't change the fact that Girls Wore Skirts and I Liked Pink. I called it (sigh) "pinky-dinky". I may have done this for a long time after it ceased to be cute.
When I was plotting my novel, originally the main character was a servant to a royal. I knew there was going to be a lot of trekking about in trousers for her and plenty of times she would be filthy and bloodied and half starved. I thought about that for a day or so and then the I Like Pink part of my brain took over: if I made her a princess I could dress her up like a Regency debutante. I don't like to count how many dresses are mentioned in the book (lots; she has more costume changes than Katniss Everdeen) but from that moment on there was an explosion of satin and lace and thorough girliness all over the book.
It's my book and I wanted the best of both worlds: Princess Pink meets Xena Warrior Princess.
Here's Princess Pink herself, in all her pink tutu-ed glory, aged nine at a dance recital.
"LOOK AT ME. LOOK AT ME IN MY TUTU. IT'S PINK. PINK I TELL YOU."
My dad posted this to Facebook last week and I tried to be embarrassed. I really did. But the Princess Pink part of my brain went into overdrive. Unfortunately I can't get away with tutus anymore.
OR CAN I?