A local nursery had a sale this weekend with a petting zoo, and Sprout wanted to wear her overalls. I didn’t think this would become a bigger conversation, but then —
“I’m going to be a farmer’s wife!” she said.
“Don’t you want to be a farmer?” I asked.
“Girls can be farmers, too.”
“I’m a farmer’s wife.”
I thought for a second. “Is Mom a librarian’s wife?”
“Right, she’s a librarian. And is Grandma a teacher’s wife?”
“Right. She’s a teacher. So could you be a farmer?”
“Okay. I can be a farmer and a lady. And an eye doctor. Actually, I just want to be an eye doctor.” She picked up a toy from her doctor bag. “This is my otoscope!”
This isn’t an outlier in the conversations I have with my daughter. And sometimes she’s the one who gets things started:
My three-year-old calls out episodes of Sesame Street that underrepresent female characters. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/8HyI02hqCv
— Chris Csont 🥐 (@ccsont) April 22, 2018
This wasn’t a one-off conversation, either. There was a day she refused to watch Sesame Street, and when I asked her why, she told me it was “Because they’re all boys!” A show with a tradition of quality isn’t above criticism, and my daughter was loud and clear on the problem: She wanted to see characters that were like her on the screen.
Are we using words like “representation” and “gender parity?” Not usually.
But that doesn’t mean we’re not talking about these things. When she sees something that doesn’t look like it includes her, or it’s not for her, she grapples with it.
Even a three-and-a-half year old can catch on to the idea that something’s wrong when the world on the screen doesn’t reflect the population of the world she lives in.