One morning last week as I was standing at the entrance of the kindergarten to greet the kids as their parents drop them off in the morning, a little boy and his mother came up to me. The mother spoke Chinese to me but I didn't quite understand her, so I looked to my coworker who speaks fluently and asked him to translate. He said, "She said her son asked her why Teacher Liz never wears dresses."
I started laughing because it was such a cute and innocent thing for the little three-year-old boy to wonder about, especially when all of the Chinese teachers wear skirts or dresses nearly every single day. It's true, I never wear dresses or skirts to work. I only brought a single backpack with me when I left the states, and it didn't contain any of my nicer clothing. So what I wear here is what I've bought here, which is slim pickings for a girl who doesn't prefer lace and ruffles (which seems to be the big fashion here in this part of China). I did buy one skirt though. I wore that skirt to work once and then immediately regretted the decision when I realized that it's near impossible not to flash the entire class when you're sitting on one of those teenie tiny kindergarten chairs.
So I squatted down face level to the little boy, smiled, held out my hands and he placed his hands on my palms, and then knowing full well that neither he nor his mother could understand a word, I told him, "Well you see, Peter, I enjoy wearing dresses very much. But not all women feel that they have to wear dresses everyday to assert their femininity or to boost their self-confidence."
My coworker stood by snickering into his hand, and I smiled sweetly to Peter and patted him on the head.
I may not be a great teacher or able to relate well with toddlers, but I like to think I may be doing a small part in keeping feminism alive in the Far East.
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