This Halloween our three year old decided to be Princess Tiana from Disney’s The Frog Prince. She also decided our dog would be her frog prince. We were thrilled with her idea. Princess Tiana is a hard working entrepreneur and many of her struggles mirror our family’s because for the past year and a half we have been working to open our own business. So I bought her the dress, tiara, and shoes but wasn’t prepared for the racism and stupidity we would encounter.
My daughter is blonde, white, and looks more like Cinderella. When she first started talking about being Princess Tiana, she asked if she could paint her face black to look more like Tiana. We saw this as an opportunity to teach her about diversity. Her teacher recommended books and we began to formulate an age appropriate explanation as to why she couldn’t paint her face black. We told her that although we knew it wasn’t her intention, painting her face black may hurt some of her friend’s feelings. She didn’t love the answer but accepted it and went back to being really excited about her Princess Tiana dress and accessories.
Then October hit and random adults started asking our daughter what she was going to be for Halloween and she would proudly yell, “Princess Tiana and my dog is going to be my frog prince.”
Most people smiled and asked her more questions about her costume, some didn’t know who Princess Tiana is, and more often than I can even believe adults shockingly said while grabbing their pearls, “But you’re not black.”
Really? After birthing her and taking care of her three years, I was never quite certain about my daughter’s skin color so thanks for clearing it up!
But seriously, what a dumb and inappropriate statement. My neighbor’s son is going as an airplane for Halloween and no one says to him, “But you aren’t a machine!” Halloween is a time for kids to dress up as something they aren’t so why should my daughter’s skin color have anything to do with what costume she chooses?
The worst part was that after these people made their dumb comments my daughter would once again ask if she could paint her face black and feel like she was justified in doing so because as the lady on the bus shouted she isn’t black and she needed to be black for her Halloween costume. We would explain to her once again that she couldn’t do this and everyone would know she was Princess Tiana because of her beautiful green dress and frog prince. After a while though our daughter wasn’t convinced that people would know who she was and was unsatisfied with our answers. We eventually had to tell her that even if people didn’t know who she was on Halloween or if people made dumb comments, it didn’t matter. Her costume rocked and she shouldn’t let her Halloween be ruined by a couple of people and their not so smart comments.
Halloween came and went and our daughter ended up having a wonderful time Trick or Treating and most people knew who she was. When the handful of people shouted their opinion about how our daughter should of dressed like Cinderella because she was blonde and fair skinned, we just ignored them and reminded her that their opinion doesn’t matter. Luckily she had so much fun getting candy she didn’t have time to be bothered by these comments.
As a parent, I wish I could make all the opinionated people on the bus and other public spaces just be quiet and keep their opinions to themselves. But I can’t. They and their ridiculous ideas will always be there for my daughter and everyone else to unwillingly hear. The only thing we can really do is teach our kids to ignore these people and with the help of Halloween candy we were able to teach our daughter this at a very young age.