When we had a baby girl, her super hip grandmother asked “Is there an Internet site where we can buy books that feature strong girls?”
At the time there wasn’t. But lo and behold, it has arrived. And it is a sensation. We have to thank the feminist blogosphere for helping us to get here.
One of our favorite bloggers told us about A Mighty Girl – a site that features 1500 girl-empowerment books. What a relief to not have to ask every bookstore owner and librarian to find these books for us! Here they are all here organized by age, awards, etc. And maybe now future daughters of feminists will not have to receive 5 copies of Paper Bag Princess!
Today, girl power = mighty and pink. Girls have to prove they are just as good as boys, and also girly girls. As the founders of A Mighty Girl say, “Girls do not have to be relegated to the role of sidekick or damsel in distress; they can be the leaders, the heroes, the champions that save the day, find the cure, and go on the adventure.”
This is true liberation, but it also means the bar has been raised, and expectations for girls can be contradictory, wide-ranging, and just plain overwhelming.
Educator and life coach Ana Homayoun, author of Myth of the Perfect Girl, meets these high-achieving girls in high school, as they are preparing to apply to college. On the surface they appear to be doing well, excelling across the board. But beneath the surface, she says, girls are stressed out and stretched too thin as they strive to be perfect. “Somewhere along the way… they lose sight of who they are, and instead work overtime to please their friends, parents, teachers, and others.”
This is what I was thinking about when I watched the super short docu-movie Gnarly in Pink featuring the “Pink Helmet Posse,” three 6-year-old girls who share an unusual passion: skateboarding. They cry, they beat up pink ponies, and skateboard like champs while wearing tutus. Multi-dimensional girls in a violent culture. It feels/looks like a much more complicated world than generations before, but then again, it is familiar. Tomboys have always experienced serious peer pressure to fit in with the girls (to be accepted). You just hope that in the process of meeting everyone elses’ expectations, that they are also living for themselves.
Homayoun says we can help our kids “forge an anchor that can hold them in place when everyone else is calling for them to conform.” And books can help us with this project. Thank you, A Mighty Girl, and feminist parents far and wide, for your efforts in helping our kids come to self-acceptance and develop their own sense of purpose.
How do you help the girls in your life navigate endless social expectations and pressures?
This blog post was originally published at Unconventional Kids!