Forget the Cake -- Fierce Girl 'Smashes the Patriarchy' for Her First Birthday

Baby Quinn poses in a black robe with a collar while holding a gavel.
Yvette Michelle Portraits LLC

Rachel Goodlad isn't a stranger to staging creative and memorable photo shoots; she and her husband are always brainstorming new ideas for their annual family Christmas card. But when her daughter Charlotte Quinn (who goes by Quinn) was born last year, Rachel's brainstorming reached new levels of awesome. This month, in honor of Quinn's first birthday, the Texas mom, who says she always dreamed of raising a "strong girl," decided to celebrate with a cake smash photo shoot that drove home that message. And it's safe to say she more than delivered.

  • Goodlad, who also has a son, says she's done a lot of thinking over the years about the kind of children she wants to raise.

    "I want both of [my children] to be proud of who they are, no matter who or what that is," she tells CafeMom. "The problem is that I think society tells one of them to do that more than the other."

    When Goodlad dreamed of raising a strong little girl, she says she hoped to teach her to "stand up for herself and use her voice." And despite being barely out of babyhood, it seems as though Quinn already is. 

    "Her personality is strong and boisterous," Goodlad shares. "She is the only girl at her daycare and doesn't let anyone push her around."

  • Advertisement
  • Still, Goodlad says she had an "epiphany" one day that Quinn would need to be taught to be strong at home, before society chased it out of her.

    Rachel Goodlad poses for a family photo with her husband, daughter Quinn, and toddler son.
    Rachel Goodlad

    "That made me think how many other girls started [out strong] and became something else because society or their family, or whoever, told them they should be a certain way?" Goodlad says.

    That thought has stuck with her ever since.

  • Shortly after, the idea for Quinn's 1st birthday photo shoot began to come into focus, and planning was underway.

    Goodlad hopped on Etsy and bought a baby-sized robe and gavel. She used a small white collar she bought when she visited China. And she made arrangements with Yvette Michelle Portraits, who was totally on board with the cake smash theme: Smash the Patriarchy. 

    The results were everything she'd hoped for -- and more.
  • "Obviously these photos will not be everyone's cup of tea," she admits. In fact, "they might not be most people's," she says. "But they're mine."

    As it turns out, a lot of people can get behind this particular cup of tea. After sharing photos from the shoot on Facebook on April 30, the photos quickly went viral -- and are gaining a lot of applause.

    "Now THIS is a cake smash I can get behind," wrote one Facebook user.

    "OMG this is the best," wrote another.

    Alhtough some commenters did take issue with what they felt was "the need to politicize children," the vast majority saw the cake smash as an empowering reminder that in order to be equal, we need to raise kids in a world where that's possible.

  • "The patriarchy needs smashing for men and women," says Goodlad. "It's not healthy for either." 

    "Smashing the patriarchy means, to me as a parent, that both of my children work toward who they want to be and what they want to do," she tells CafeMom. "It is not given to them or taken away by default. It means for us that we focus more on raising purposeful, awesome human beings who are confident in themselves and kind to others, instead of worrying about who society says they should be and how they should act."

  • It's a powerful message indeed -- one made even more memorable by the fact that the photos of Quinn are pretty stinking cute. 

    During the shoot, Goodlad says Quinn "took charge and knew what to do." 

    "She's a very serious baby and kept a straight face almost the whole time," she continues. "Most babies I see start smiling when Yvette makes her noises or funny faces. My kids just stare at her even harder."

  • That is, until she got her gavel (and her hands) into that delicious cake.

    "Quinn didn't really start smiling at all until she had destroyed the cake," Goodlad says. "She started laughing when she toppled it over and was done."

  • Goodlad says she's surprised by how viral the photos have gone. But believe it or not, this isn't the 1-year-old's only brush with fame.

    Rachel Goodlad poses while pregnant with her husband and John Mayer.
    Rachel Goodlad

    While pregnant with Quinn, Goodlad shares that she was at an event where she met John Mayer (yes, that John Mayer), and that he actually asked to be a part of her pregnancy announcement. (Squee!)

    And now, friends and family are urging Goodlad to send the photos to Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself. (Ahhhh!)

  • Needless to say, this baby is going places. But her mom hopes the ultimate message the photos send is that we all need to embrace our inner strength.

    "There is nothing wrong with being strong and owning who you are," Goodlad shares. "There is nothing wrong with smiling all the time and being bubbly."

    The goal, she says, is to be who you were meant to be.

    "Rise to who you can become; don't shrink inside of yourself because of what you think others want or expect," she continues. "When people shrink, the world misses out on who they could have been, and we have more look-alikes in the crowd. It's a lose-lose situation."

    It certainly is.