Salix is growing up confident and empowered. As the sixth generation of a family of strong, capable women, it’s no wonder. Look back to Cedar Bough, legacy founder, and in every subsequent generation you’ll find at least one woman who happily, healthily, and creatively played with gender definition so that she could be the Sim she wanted to be.
Her grandma, Linda, is bro who, after finishing the curator aspiration, completed bodybuilder and continues to enjoy the longevity provided by that bonus trait. She loves her pink frills because of the contrast they provide to her muscular frame. She likes to play the soft off the hard–it’s a good metaphor, she believes, for a successful approach to life. Be soft, always, on the inside of your kind heart–but be tough, too. Be hard and strong to cruise through life, without getting defeated.
Her mom, Aspen, rocks the androgynous look. She’s got a world of confidence in who she is, so she wears a boy’s wardrobe to highlight her wide shoulders, narrow hips, and well-defined muscles. And this sense of self she exudes is about the most attractive quality possible.
Salix is spinning her own take on self-definition.
“I wanna be strong like Gran and Mom,” she says, “And I wanna have fun like me.”
Here are some statements that Salix has never heard:
- “My don’t you look pretty, sitting there in your little dress with your hands folded!”
- “Girls don’t wear overalls. They wear dresses.”
- “Girls don’t run like that!”
- “Girls don’t tell those kinds of jokes.”
- “Girls don’t make pirate faces and growl–they smile and giggle.”
- “Girls can’t be cowboys/space-rangers/detectives/doctors/professors/fill-in-the-blanks.”
- “Keep your knees together at all times.”
- “Stand up straight and tuck in your tummy.”
- “Drawing and playing the violin are such good activities for girls.”
- “Be demure. Don’t speak first. Don’t make faces. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Don’t look directly at any one. Smile. Always smile. Be pretty. Don’t frown. Don’t grimace. You’re a girl. Act like a girl. Don’t be too smart, too strong, too good, too anything. Just be a girl. And above all, make sure that everybody likes you.”
Instead, the Sims in Salix’s life talk to her like she is a Sim. They listen to her, and they answer her questions honestly and in a way that a young Sim can understand.
They encourage her to work hard at her homework, her aspirations, and developing her skills. And they encourage her when she takes breaks and plays like kid, too.
Through the examples of their own authentic lives, the adults in Salix’s life show her what it means to be a Sim who embraces and accepts all the facets of Simness.
Aspen’s still moving with an open heart through the complications she helped create by exploring the possibility of romance with her brother-in-law.
She’s not hiding from the sadness–it’s pretty strong and persistent, lasting over a day. She’s not wallowing in it, either, but when the heartbreak overshadows everything else she feels, she’s allowing herself to experience it fully.
I heard someone sobbing and looked around to find Aspen crying in the tub.
She’s taking responsibility for her emotions, while doing her best not to take it too personally. She’s not mad at Madrona, and she’s certainly not mad at Lamont. She’s just kind of surprised and bummed out that she can’t override this coding within her that makes her feel sad when the married man she flirted with shares affection with his wife.
She’s a gloomy Sim–she knows that sadness isn’t the end of the world, and she knows, too, that her heart’s stronger than any amount of heartbreak. And this is nothing worth ruining her family over.
For little Salix, seeing her mom move through the all the colors of being a Sim provides an example of a brave heart–we’ll make mistakes sometimes, we’ll be foolish. It’s not the end of the world, and we can keep our love for friends and family and move on.
And if we’re really lucky, they’ll understand our foibles and grant us a little bit of grace.
Poplar, too, shows Salix how to move through upsetting emotions. Poplar’s a tough one–she can be sweet one moment, and mean the next, even to those she loves best. For her–though not for the recipients of her harsh words–what she says isn’t really personal. It’s just fun. Seeing that sudden, wounded look in her sister’s face when she tells her she’s a sissy–it just makes her smile and brings her glee! It’s not her fault that she notices the other person’s big, gaping vulnerability. In fact, she rationalizes, she’s doing the other person a favor by pointing it out so that that person can deal with the vulnerability–either cover it up or accept it and get over it.
Young Salix certainly has no desire to be mean to anybody. At the same time, watching her aunt Poplar scrunch up her eyebrows and dart out a harsh word or two shows Salix that, while one may always want to be kind, it’s not always necessary to be nice.
As the only single woman in the house, it’s now Poplar’s turn to have a steady stream of visitors. Minsk, Mason, and Brody drop by daily.
Poplar’s testing them to see which one is strong enough to withstand her withering comments. So far, Minsk seems to be willing to give it a go–but Poplar’s not sure if it’s because he’s tough or just a little bit masochistic. She’s worried that with a masochist, she’ll be impelled to be mean all the time. And she’s really hoping to minimize her meanness, rather than having it drawn out by a too-willing victim.
Poplar’s hoping she finds somebody like her brother-in-law. She doesn’t want him–she’s happy that he’s Madrona’s mailman–she just wonders if there could be anybody like him, that easy to talk to, that strong. Funny thing: when she’s with somebody strong and sure of himself, she seldom gets a whim to be mean.
With so much variety of expression around her, and with no pressure from others to be any particular way, Salix is free to find how she wants to be.
She’s starting by exploring how she wants to feel.
As a result, Salix is growing up with a realistic and empowered understanding of her abilities, talents, and also her limits. She knows she can’t do it all, and she also knows that through effort, discipline, patience, persistence, creativity, joy, and imagination she can do a lot–more than any Sim need do and everything she can do to ensure that hers is a strong, fulfilled, productive life!
The really cool thing about not being forced into having to grow up in defiance of gender stereotypes is that it opens up the possibility for girls to look pretty, act sweet, hug everybody, play with dolls, and dance all night without feeling like they’re selling out or caving in.
It lets a girl just be who she wants to be and how she wants to be at the moment: tough, then tender; sweet, then mean; strong, then soft; wild, then polite. A kid can just be a kid, tasting deeply of all the flavors that are available–because they’re available, they’re part of life, and because she can.