Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Freedom To Act "Like A Girl"

Thumbs up to all those amazing American girls out there!
"You don't have to feel like a wasted space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow"

In the past week, two thought provoking videos have gone viral; one from Proctor & Gamble and the other from Verizon. They both send out a powerful message to our society, the negative generalizations we have about girls.

Let’s start with this one. What do you think when someone says, “You act like a girl!”  Now watch:

1. What are you saying?
I think for many, it causes reflection. We sit back and wonder, “Have I projected this type of thinking? How can I support a more positive image for our growing girls?”  This is a great place to be in our society. Awareness. Awareness can bring positive change. We have the freedom to change, to make better choices when it comes to having conversations with girls.

Change doesn’t have to be hard, it can be quite simple.  You can support the girls in your lives to try new things, to feel empowered, build their self-confidence by letting them fall down and pick themselves back up. Show them through hugs and high fives that it’s important for them to be who they want to be, without any type of restraint of just "being a girl".

2. What about the girly girls?
Which brings me to my second point; girls should still be allowed to be girly.  I have to believe there is still a majority of us who want to be feel respected, have a gentleman open a door for us, look feminine, and be powerful. THIS, I think is more challenging. There seems to be this underlying message also being sent to girls that they need to be so tough and maybe "act like a boy". We need to stop this. There has to be a balance. More so than boys, there is an image factor to being a girl. We all come in different shapes and sizes and I feel we are trying to figure out how to be more accepting and less judgmental. As parents and caregivers, we have the responsibility of raising our girls and boys with respect for each other. Girls should be girls, whatever that means for their own self: learning style, talents, skills and thoughts, and the way they express themselves.  If a girl wants to drenched in pink or head-to-toe tomboy, let them! I love to wear heels, cute dresses, fun jewelry, and wear some makeup (even though I have no idea how to put it on). I have friends that live in flats or tennies, jeans or workout clothes, and low key t-shirts who could care less about applying blush. It never crosses our minds to say to each other, “You’re wearing that?!” Don’t get me wrong, I have had others, mainly through my career experiences, give me a look when I enter a room full of black or navy business attire in my pink or orange dress with heels on. I’ve learned that you can’t worry about what others think of what you wear or how you ‘come across’. More importantly, you stick to your guns and share your talents, show through your actions that you are a smart, driven, insightful girl who is going to fail but also comprehends that is all part of growing and becoming a better girl. Yes, girl, I am a girl, not just a person. There is a difference.

3. Where the girls at?
We've come a long way. In the past, it was frowned upon for girls to “act like boys”. Now we understand that there are all types of girls out there. But, what I do still observe over and over is the lack of interest girls have in technology and science. While there's a science to everything, there are still obstacles when it comes to girls being interested in the area of science and technology. We know that so we need to expand that thinking out to fashion, painting, weaving, designing, all girly areas that require much thought and intelligence to be successful in a digital world.

"Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know"

In the last few years since STEM/STEAM initiatives have been on the rise, the number of girls going  into these fields has been on the decline. How is this possible? Well, because these fields have catered to boys. Duh. It doesn't take a brainiac to acknowledge from first glance at the curriculum that it was developed by males and / or by females who didn't seem to be a fan of girly interests. Now watch this. Maybe this has an impact as well? You decide:

As far as the areas of STEM, not all girls are going to be interested, but how do we know if they don’t try? Just like sports, clubs, etc. There needs to be an attraction and until recently the attraction was male driven.  Made with Code is a new program which actually looks girly. Thank you Google!  Check it out and share it withsomeone who can start an after school club or a program during the day at your local school. I am.

Girls still have choices. There is also another program for girls who are interested in the more mainstreamed look of coding through the Hour of Code resources. We now have programs which meet the wide spectrum of girls out there. We are getting there, it’s taken some time, but I am positive that it will just keep getting better.

This week we celebrate our freedom. Our freedom to make choices. Let’s make a choice to be accepting and supportive all the amazing girls out there. Acting like a girl means many positive things. Let’s not make them negative.

"Baby, you're a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go, "Aah, aah, aah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe"

There's nothing wrong with girls wanting to wear pink, or blue. Wanting to shop or shoot a nerf gun. You know what's wrong: judging our girls based on their looks and interests instead of supporting them and encouraging them to share their unique talents to build a brighter tomorrow. Let girls have the freedom to make choices about what they want; to do, be a part of, to fail at and then get back up and try again. We just need to offer them opportunities for these experiences so they have more choices. It may take them awhile, so let them have the freedom to experience what life has to offer them. More freedom to act like the girl they are...and want to be. 

"You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July
'Cause, baby, you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth"

God bless you and yours this 4th of July and all those that keep our freedom alive!

Sing it Katy!

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