I lead with this cartoon because culturally this played out in our home. As a feminist I was painfully aware of the patriarchal influences on children. Gender roles are not an accident. At minimum I wanted to try and deflect the cultural imperative that Barbie represented. But, my wasbund's family and the neighbors disregarded my pleas, my demands and flooded my Angel with passed down Barbies and piles of handmade Barbie clothes. I was simply dismissed as a shrew.
By the time Angela started kindergarten we had moved into our own home in Omaha. Despite the recession in '73, both of our incomes and some property gifted from my wasband's family in Iowa allowed us a refinancing scheme to purchase an old 2-story home in central Omaha. The neighborhood was filled with these big brick homes built at the beginning of the 20th century. There was a mansion nearby, which the board of education used for offices. The neighborhood was filled with kids, most of whom went to the catholic school one block over.
Angela took dance lessons from my best friend and she adored dance and the dance wear, the leotards. She was active, learning to ride a bike without training wheels, learning to skate and generally being active. When she started school I had a closet full of clothes, adorable dresses from all the cousins. Angela rebelled and insisted on wearing her Oshkosh B'Gosh overalls every single day. The only time she wore a dress was for church on Sunday or for holidays.
Update: I left out a favorite photo or mention of Angela as a big sister. She continued to be first and foremost a big sister. She was M's best and closest being.