As we all know, my baby has been a bit follically-challenged through the majority of her (almost) 16 months of life. Sure, she started out looking somewhat haired, albeit sparse:
Newborn Ellie, rocking some fuzzy brown tresses
But those dark locks soon faded away in favor of very, very light-colored fuzz, making her look basically like a baldy:
Baldy Ellie at Fashion's Night Out in NYC in September 2012
You can barely see her soft little fuzz here, also in September 2012
Learning to sit up but not how to grow noticeable hair.
In the early days, we got the occasional passer-by who would comment on our adorable little boy. I never really minded, because the comments weren't all that frequent and usually Ellie was tucked away in her stroller/carseat (so no way to get a good, close look) and covered in a blanket, which was frequently white or blue (we had a blue one with an alligator on it that we used often). I get it: you see a baldy in a blue blanket and assume boy. No harm, no foul.
But as Ellie has gotten older, the comments have only increased in frequency. Also increasing in frequency? Her desire to remove any sort of "I'M A GIRL" contraption I may try to strap to her head. Headbands are practically impossible to keep on, and her hair hasn't been substantial enough to support the likes of a clip until just recently (and even then, it will only hold the tiniest of teeny tiny clips you ever did see).
And I have come to learn that people do not look past the head for context clues when guessing a baby's sex. It doesn't matter if I'm pushing her in her purple stroller, with her pink and purple stroller fan clipped to it, while she's wearing a lacy, pink ruffly dress. If there's no hair and no bow, I'm always told how cute "he" is.
Case in point, the other day I took Ellie to the mall in this outfit:
This lovely, purple floral romper with the criss-cross straps and large purple flower.
And still, as we walked through the mall, somebody actually said to her, "Hey there, little boy! What's your name?"
His name is Elizabeth. Thanks for asking.
I mean, people. Please. When you see a baby with short (or no) hair, don't make assumptions - survey the rest of the scene. Check the outfit. Check the accessories. Check the baby transportation device. There may be abundant clues to help you avoid an awkward moment (for all involved). It's not fun for me to have to correct you and see you get all embarrassed, and I'm sure it's not fun for you to be corrected and get embarrassed. (I know I have some fellow mamas of "late hair bloomers" out there who can sympathize with me on this, am I right?)
And yes, it's true that sometimes you may look for clues and come up empty. Some people prefer far more gender neutral apparel/accessories/baby transportation devices. Heck, when I had Ellie dressed in a baseball onesie and jeans for all the games on our road trip, I would not have expected people to guess she's a girl. I get that. I also used to get a lot of "boy" comments when she wore her green winter coat and cream beanie in the cold New York weather. Again, neutral (if not "boy") colors, so hard to tell. But if you're unsure, a simple, "oh, what a sweet baby! What is your baby's name?" will sidestep the whole issue.
Sure, she's sporting pink sneakers and skinny jeans, but at a quick glance, it's a pretty neutral outfit.
The feminine style of the coat was often obscured by the carrier or more blankets, so this one gets a pass.
Look, I know that in the grand scheme of things, who cares if people know that Ellie is a girl or think she's a boy? Is that really a major problem? No, of course not. I appreciate well-meaning strangers cooing over my little one no matter whether they refer to her as "he" or "she" and I often will just refrain from correcting them, because really, eh. Doesn't matter. But sometimes, regardless, it does irk me. Maybe it's just tapping into some deep unacknowledged disappointment that I can't yet have Ellie rocking pigtails (babies in pigtails are THE CUTEST). Maybe I just don't like to feel like her adorable dresses and such are going unnoticed. But whatever the reason, I just felt the need to vent and share my tips for avoiding that awkward "oh she, it's a girl, I'm so sorry" conversation that I deal with almost every time I check out at the supermarket.
Because HER name is Ellie and SHE is the cutest little GIRL in the whole wide world. Take notice!