Bows: Empowering or restrictive?
By Giorgia Previdoli
Reading Sahdia's blog about her long term love relationship with bows made me smile, my experience could not have been more different! As a girl I couldn’t stand bows, frills, pink, princesses or Barbies. I grew up in Italy in the 80's. Gender neutral was really not an option at that time. I moved to the UK more than 5 years ago and something I really like is that appearance and personal preferences don't seem to matter here. Not as much as in Italy at least. As a girl, in the 80s, you were supposed to like girly things, like playing with dolls, wearing pretty dresses, having your hair long and possibly tied in majestic pink bows. At primary school, football was my favourite game, even if I have always been extremely bad at playing it. I was playing every morning at school and every afternoon with my boy cousin, who would have rather played Barbies instead, but I was not so keen. Living on the coast I used to love summer for many reasons, but especially because, at the start of the hot season, I was allowed to cut my hair very short. It was more practical to go the beach, my mother would say pragmatically. To me, summer, sea and short hair all had the same flavour, they all tasted of freedom. I hated bows, and especially pink ones, because, according to many adults around me, I was supposed to wear bows and dresses (and love Barbies and pink) in order to be a girl (not just to look like a girl..). Things have slowly moved on in Italy too, but maybe it s not a coincidence that my cousin and myself are the only ones who left Italy in my family. And we both live in the UK. I don’t have an opinion on bows now and I have really enjoyed wearing myself the bows Sahdia made for my 3 year old daughter Viola. Gender identity construction and symbolism are so fascinating to me. I am intrigued by the fact that the same object carries opposite meaning to different people. I was intrigued by the idea of wearing a bow to express independence. And I agree, there are still many preconceptions out there about how a female academic should look I like Sahdia's idea of empowering bows. I hope my daughter will feel able to express herself when she grows up. I hope she will find her own way to challenge preconceptions around look and appearance.