The Fashionable Toddler

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I love clothes. I love them. What I put on can change my mood, change my confidence levels, reaffirm my ability to cope with a stressful situation or take away that competence all together. What I wear is an outward expression of who I am and how I feel about myself that day. What I choose to put on is my statement of presenting myself to the world.

I used to be able to dress Miss Rose, put her in beautiful co-ordinated outfits that I loved, things that were basically mini version of clothes I wear or would like to wear.

Then she turned two. Now it’s not my choice.

Photo Credit Cheryl Holt

Photo Credit Cheryl Holt

Miss Rose has a unique blend of the ultimate girly girl, loving tutus, frills, glitter and flowers, but with a rough and tough edge. Her favourite t-shirt has Yoda on. Her favourite skirt is a tutu. Her favourite toys are dinosaurs and footballs, her favourite soft toys are a pink fluffy poodle and a soft white lamb.

I encourage it. I like to let her choose and, when possible, respect her decisions… even if they’re not quite a choice I’m completely happy with.

For our friend’s daughter’s Christening she wanted to wear the pretty butterfly dress her beloved nanny had bought her, “This dress, nanny buy it” (anything she can apply “nanny buy it” to is immediately a firm favourite). I was thrilled, and the pretty dress was put on. Of course, it had to be teamed with knee high Spiderman socks and skull and cross bone trainers. And a Godzilla type attitude.

There’s a lot of reasons I respect her decisions when it comes to her clothes.

1)People are always going to be bitchy about how we look. They just are. I got bitched at for not looking right in high school regardless of what look I adopted, and I lacked confidence in it myself so it was easy to knock me down. I want Miss Rose to be confident in who she is, what she likes, and to wear it with pride. Who cares if I think she looks a mess, I’m not the one who is wearing it. If she can start life with this level of self assurance, maybe she will be able to carry it with her into adulthood.

2)I don’t believe we have the right to tell other women what is and isn’t acceptable to wear, and I extend that respect to my daughter. When I was called a slag for wearing a short dress out for dinner with The Boy, it made me feel wretched. Nobody should have the right to do that. We will wear what we want and we deserve respect for it, regardless of age.

3)I don’t believe there is anything wrong with either “feminine” or “masculine” dressing, for either gender. Iggy Pop famously said “I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like  a woman’ because there’s nothing shameful about being a woman” and that’s true. Her love of traditionally feminine clothes is lovely, and her desire to team it with things more associated with masculinity is fascinating.  Neither styles of dress are more shameful or embarrassing, so letting her wear both is important because it encourages her to understand and respect others choices, regardless of sex, and be their clothes masculine or feminine in appearance.

Photo credit Debbie News

Photo credit Debbie News

4)How I dress is a representation of who I am. When I was in school and we were forced into the same drudgery of green and grey I always felt like I was losing part of my identity, lose in a sea of matching misery. The oppressive nature of lacking the ability to express oneself is something I never want to do to Miss Rose, because I know how much I hate it being taken from me. She’s an Ewok today? Fair enough, be an Ewok.

5)There’s a lot more of “kiddy fashions” than there ever used to be. The dawn of baby high heels from PeeWee Pumps has really affirmed my belief that kids need to be kids. The desire to make our children look fashionable or glamorous or, and I say this with a mixture of digust and despair, sexy, is all about us. We want our children to represent us when really they should be representing themselves. Miss Rose doesn’t care what’s in fashion. She doesn’t care what’s in season or what Harper Beckham has been seen wearing. She doesn’t care how much something costs. What she cares about is whether she likes it and whether it’s comfy. Anything else is me imposing my desire to impress other by using her on her.

Self expression is important and now Miss Rose knows her own mind and how to express it, I want to encourage and respect it. Miss Rose may not win any best dressed toddler awards, and she may not strut into playgroup looking like she’s stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine, but she’s her and she’s happy.

What more could I want?

You can check out all my contact info an links on, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!



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