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Samantha Turnbull Writer, mother, anti-princess

Whale face

Let them be whales

“And what do you want to be little girl?” asked the glitter-covered face painter.

“A donkey,” replied Liberty.

The woman pursed her lips, paint brush poised next to my daughter’s cheek.

“What about a fairy?” she smiled enthusiastically.

“What about a kangaroo?” asked Liberty.

Maybe a kangaroo was beyond the artist’s talents because she didn’t like that idea.

“What about a princess?” she asked.

“A pirate,” suggested Liberty.

The face painter was getting frustrated as the line-up of children grew behind us.

“Let’s do a butterfly,” she said and set to work with purple sparkles.

My strong-willed three-year-old admitted defeat. I think I may have even shot her one of those ‘just do what the lady says’ looks in an attempt to hurry the process along.

Butterfly face

A few weeks later we bought our own face paint and I asked Liberty what she wanted to be.

“A whale,” she said.

No one gets their face painted as a whale, I thought. But rather than argue, I began to paint.

Ignoring her wish, I painted her face in red, orange and yellow flowers. She looked gorgeous and I was rather pleased with my artistic prowess.

“Go and look in the mirror,” I told her.

She returned clean-faced but wearing a frown.

“I wanted to be a whale,” she said sternly.

This time it was I who admitted defeat, but I was proud. Liberty had stood her ground, refusing to conform to what I stupidly thought a little girl ‘should’ be painted as.

Here’s to no more ‘shoulds’. Let them be whales… or donkeys… or kangaroos… or pirates.

Whale face

6 responses to “Let them be whales”

  1. Cath says:

    That is such a good story! Xx

  2. Tania says:

    This made me laugh, as the mother of two strong-willed daughters, it was a familiar story. Face-painters across Australia have been confronted by one or other of my daughters asking for a tiger rather than a princess, or a zombie or a koala. They were reluctant to do it but like you I love that my girls aren’t always locked into the “traditional”. Go Liberty!

  3. Tracy says:

    I hope Pollyanna is as strong-willed as Liberty. Love the whale, you did an amazing job Sam!

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