My daughter turns 3 today.

At her request, she'll wear a pink organza dress, with a giant butterfly on it, and "sparkly shoes".

My worst bloody nightmare.


(Okay, I'm exaggerating, my ACTUAL worst nightmare involves flying lizards and people chewing loudly - but you get my point.)

Ever since I found out I was having a girl, I worked hard to make sure she didn't feel constrained by her gender.

That meant ensuring she had positive female and male role models in her life, in equal measure. Luckily for her, she's got plenty of those.

And it also meant ensuring, at least for the first couple of years of her life, I was giving her all the options, outside the scope of gender.

I scrutinised every toy, every cartoon, to make sure she was getting a balanced view on gender norms and I put all my energy into not boxing her up in one particular category. She had blue T-shirts that said "rad like dad", with tags that called it a "boy T-shirt". What made it a boy T-shirt I'm yet to understand, as it was being worn by a girl without somehow self-destructing.

I wanted to see the whole world available to her, not just the "girly" part of it.

In my quest to show her that all colours of the rainbow were born equal, I found myself falling for the old trick of seeing "pink" as the lesser colour.

Real equality comes in all colours - and that includes pink. The girliest of pinks, preferably sparkly. And with some frills thrown in for good measure.


And that's exactly what she loves.

When she started communicating enough to tell me what she wanted (something that happened a lot earlier than I was prepared for) she left no room for doubt: this girl loves pink. The sparklier the better.

Well, crap.

I have spent the past few months having to come to terms with the fact that her personal choices do not make me a failure as a feminist mother.

She's right. If everything is equal and all options are just as good, why was I putting pink down?

At 3, she's already taught me the biggest feminist lesson I've ever learnt.

Feminism means equality for all and it's not very equal of me to think "not the f***ing pink one again" when she gets a top out of her drawer.

Suddenly, I'm forced to re-evaluate everything I ever believed in.

You can't call yourself a true feminist if you judge those who choose to love the colour pink.

She decided to break away from the rules I'd come up with for her and create her own ones. I can't blame magazines or advertising or anything like that. She was months old when she started crying at beige shorts and smiling at tutus.

I realised I was the problem. My own preconceived ideas of what "girly" things meant - weakness - were getting in the way of me being truly open to all possibilities.

Then I realised… it's not about what she wears. It's about the world she experiences.

It's not the tutu holding her back. She can damn well climb trees and play with her hot wheels cars just as well with the tutu on (as she's proven countless of times).

It's what people like me think of people who like tutus.

By shunning pink, I wasn't opening the whole world up to her like I thought I was; I was closing off a whole part of it, deciding on her behalf that she shouldn't like it.

Rejecting pink was my way of projecting my own internal biases. In fact, in my quest to steer her towards the more "neutral" colours, I was showing her that stereotypical girly colours are somehow of lesser value. What a rubbish feminist I am.

The only feminist thing for her to do was to go ahead and prove me wrong.

Pink is rad

The sad reality I got to is that, as a whole, society doesn't really see femininity in a very good light - and definitely not on par with masculinity.

A girl who's into monster trucks is "cool". A boy who likes "Frozen" is seen, by many, as someone who needs "fixing". And that, to put it eloquently, is bullshit.

Because being feminine is a feminist act.

It's time to stop devaluing femininity.

We keep trying to teach our girls they can be anything but most of the examples we give them of girls who achieve their goals show girls who are not your stereotypical female.

The problem is not one girl liking "pink" - the problem is society defining "pink" as a "girly" colour and associating that with concepts of fragility and weakness.

Real equality will only come from elevating it and putting it truly on par with masculinity.

For girls like my daughter, Serena Williams uber-feminine manicure at the Australian Open is important.

We need more pink tutus and girly manicures in areas like politics and in academia. More girls kicking ass in all colours - including pink.

I want to teach my daughter she can be anything, no matter what she wears. And that means I've got to be okay with all this pink organza crap she chooses to love - precisely because it's her choice to love it.

She wears pink not because "girls wear pink" but because "people who like pink wear pink".

She loves it. She also loves dinosaurs and squeals with excitement every time we drive past a digger. And she can run uphill with more energy than most. And jumps off the back of the sofa with a level of excitement I wish my worried mother heart didn't have to witness. She loves ballet and she also loves hot wheels. And she hugs the dog when she thinks he looks "sad" and helps her friends at daycare put their shoes on and brings me "coffee" from her toy kitchen while I'm working and tells me, in no uncertain terms, what she wants (chocolate, toys) and doesn't want right now (a nap).

She's strong and delicate, she's brave and she's kind and, unlike what my biased views would have me believe and what the slogans on kids' T-shirts imply, those things can co-exist and none of them are inherently "boyish" or "girly".

They're what makes us fundamentally human.