Girlhood and Material Culture

In Kirsten Learns a Lesson, the idea of Girlhood is represented as the exchange of/imaginative play with material objects which are understood to express the domestic sphere, while in the With Love Lily Rose picture for their holiday gift guide, girlhood is represented as an additive touch of style that should never contradict but instead complement the setting it finds itself in. Keywords for Children’s Literature expresses girlhood to be an elusive term that deploys many meanings. One idea of girlhood, as a time period in a young female’s life, can be seen played out in the second Kirsten text. Kirsten and her cousins’ fascination with playing with their dolls and constructing/acting out the materiality and verbal exchanges of the domestic sphere in which they see their mothers contributing to portrays certain expectations for girlhood. In this sense, we may perceive girlhood to be a time in young females’ lives when they observe and strive to imitate the roles of maternal figures as well as desire to imaginatively assume these gendered roles during play. In the ‘With Love Lily Rose’ blog picture, we see girlhood being characterized as stylish and elegant taste that should never interfere with the sphere of adulthood but instead contribute to and, perhaps improve, this domain. By just looking at the initial picture accompanying the title of the blog post, we can see a young female toddler dressed in traditionally feminine apparel that emulates her mother’s. Again, this detail in the image reinforces the idea that girlhood should strive to subtly complement, and even emulate, the roles of matriarchal women and the sphere of domestic life, including decorating one’s home. Both the story Kirsten Learns a Lesson and the blog post picture demonstrate the varying but similar interpretations of girlhood in traditional values as well as in popular culture of today. While girlhood may be expected, or encouraged, to be a time of exploration into the gendered roles of household/childrearing labor, contemporary culture may see girlhood as decorative elegance which should always strive to complement and enhance a mother’s sophistication rather than hinder or contradict it.

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