August 06, 2008

Sylvia Rimm On Raising Kids: Don’t Fight This One

Sylvia Rimm Q. My daughter is a junior and a talented trumpet player. The high school she attends has a big music performance/drama/dinner production. She was told she had to pull all her hair back and put it in a bun because there weren't any girls in bands during the 1930s and '40s (the time frame of the production) and that was why she had to wear her hair that way. I'd like to know if you think I am crazy to fight this. It takes away the girls' femininity and they all look like homely, old men in the huge white tux jackets they have to wear. I am fighting about this for all the girls, not just my daughter. If the singers and dancers and other girls in the performance can wear their hair nicely why can't the girls in the band? What do you think about this issue? Thanks for your comments.

A. Your daughter may be disappointed in her part in this show, but I can assure you there were no girl trumpet players in bands in the '30s and '40s. And if a band let one in as a temporary substitute, she had to wear pants and hide her hair in order not to embarrass the band.

If your daughter were in a play about signing the Declaration of Independence, you would expect her to dress as a man, because women didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence. Times have changed, but this performance is not only a musical performance. It's also a drama and an educational performance; thus, authentic costumes that represent that era are required. There’s much to be learned from this experience. It seems like an excellent opportunity for students, and even their audience, to understand how far women have come and to appreciate an earlier period in history. You should applaud the teachers for their creativity. Perhaps as a final note, as the band does its bows, the girls in the band could let their hair down with a smile and a sign that says "Progress for Women." I do hope the program describes the difference in the times to its audience and that your daughter can celebrate her performance with the entire cast afterward and return to her more feminine attire.

In my research on the childhoods of successful women, women in symphony orchestras described how when they first began playing for orchestras, they had to sit on inside chairs, tie their hair back and wear pants so audiences would not realize that the orchestra had to stoop so low as having to admit women. It wasn’t until blind auditions behind curtains were initiated that women received fair opportunities to play in orchestras. Please share that story with your daughter as well and shout, "Bravo" for women’s progress.

For free newsletters about See Jane Win®, How Jane Won, and See Jane Win® for Girls, send a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094, or go to for more information.

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

No comments: