Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yes, I Hit Like a Girl...So Watch Out

By now, we have probably all seen the new "Like A Girl" campaign, but just in case you live under a rock:

This campaign is intended to remind everyone that women are not the weaker sex - that being a girl does not mean you cannot play sports, run fast, fight hard, or be tough. Being a girl does not mean you have to wear pink, brush your hair, put on heels, and be a princess. You can be a bad ass. You can be a bad ass in pink, or a bad ass in purple; but you can also be a bad ass in blue, green, black, or white. This campaign is meant to empower girls, as well as to remind everyone that when you say something like "you throw like a girl," you are insulting, demeaning, and undermining an entire gender.

There are a lot of baby girls and little girls in my life, between all of my family & friends who keep making babies, and this conversation has come up several times - the importance of not always telling a girl how sweet and beautiful she is, and how vitally important it is to their psyche to not dote on them like a princess. When I snuggle up to one of my cousins' daughters, or when I run on the playground with a little girl, I am consciously aware of the way I interact with her, the way I speak to her. I don't call them princess, I don't snuggle them up and tell them they're pretty. Instead, I tell them how fast they run, how tough they are, how brave they are. I don't buy them princess books or wrap them head to toe in pink ruffles; I am mindful of the way we play, and I make an effort to shop neutrally.

Take my cousin Camille, for example -she was the first baby girl born into my family in over 5 years, and boy were we all excited. Did I buy her a ruffly tutu? Of course. It was silver and glittery, and it was adorable. But I paired it with a blue sweater with a skull on it. Because she's going to be a bad ass chick, and she should get to dress like one from the very start.

Girls are not weak. But we are raised to believe we are. We are raised to believe that boys are tough and dirty, and that we need to be neat & tidy, and that girls don't fight. I am here to tell you, I fight. And your daughters will fight. Their Aunt V will teach them that they should fight to stand up for themselves, that they are brave and awesome, and that they can do anything they want. It's okay to be scared, and it's okay to need help - but it's not okay to expect anyone to do anything for you because you're too scared. Toughen up, it's okay if you fall, we'll all help you back up and you can try again. But you, little girls, are not weak.

Girls are not princesses. We are not put on this planet to look pretty and wait for a man to come save us. We don't need saved or rescued. And as much as I enjoy curling up with one of my favorite little girls and watching a Disney movie, I am also horrified by what Disney is teaching girls. These princesses are all saved by a man that they fall in love with at first sight, who fights some battle for them, who rescues them because they cannot rescue themselves. Disney's princesses teach little girls the polar opposite of what they should ever learn about themselves, about love, and about their knight in shining armor. You're not a princess. You don't get to boss people around or make everyone tell you you're lovely all the time. Did everyone see that article this week about that guy who flew to Africa and claimed some land for his daughter so she could be a real princess? For fuck sake, the irreversible damage he will do to that spoiled rotten brat, I can see it already.

Do the next generation of women a huge favor. The next time you pick up a baby girl, snuggle her close to your body, give her soft kisses, and coo into her tiny little ears, "you, baby girl, are going to change the world with your toughness." That's what girls need to hear. Over and over and over. Because the media is beating them over the head with something sick and twisted, something that teaches them to cry to get their way, something that teaches them that they aren't as strong as boys, and something that tells them they are weak.

Girls are strong. We are smart and brave and tough, and we can do anything. We can wear pink or blue. We can wear heels or boots. We can be scared, and we can get over it. We can play sports and run races, and most importantly, we can win. We can be the best, the strongest, the toughest. We can fight the hardest, yell the loudest, and guess what...we can even save a boy sometimes.