The Good Girl
I am the mother of a seven-year old girl. As a typical mom, I think she is just a bundle of amazing. She's beautiful, smart, funny, imaginative, loving, sweet and playful. And what is really great, what warms my heart, is that she thinks so too. She believes it with every fiber of her being. She wakes up every morning feeling that she is just as special as I think she is. Even with her hair all out of place, missing teeth and a chocolate milk mustache, she thinks she is beautiful and the cutest thing in the whole wide world.
When she dances across the floor, she does it like a prima ballerina. When she sings, she does it with the confidence that she has a terrific voice. There is no doubt, no hesitancy on her part. She loves herself. She is strong. She is talented. She can do anything.
Unfortunately, I can't help but dread the day when she will lose some of that. Hasn't it happened to all of us at some point? Someone or something came along and started to wear away at that amazing creature we knew were. We started to doubt how amazing we were. We stopped dancing because we were unsure of what we looked like. We stopped singing because our voice isn't really that good. We stopped looking into the mirror and loving the image that reflected back to us. We started to feel not smart enough, pretty enough, not thin enough. We started to only see the flaws, where we didn't measure up to some ideal that someone else presented to us.
And why in the hell would we do that?
Why would we let ourselves lose the fact that we are amazing? Why would we let someone take that away?
I think that's what really upset me when I came across the story of two recent clothing items, produced by and for major retailers. The shirts aimed at young girls, girls of my daughters age and older, that had blatantly sexist remarks. First, JC Penny came out with a girls' shirt that said "I'm Too Pretty for Homework." It was quickly followed by another shirt with the phrase "Allergic to Algebra" from Forever 21. Are you kidding me? How does something like this even get made? Explain to me how a buyer sees this stuff and thinks, yeah, this is just so cute because, you know, girls like to be pretty and hate numbers.
Both were eventually pulled from the stores after an outcry from parents. What I find troubling is that the retailers seemed oblivious to the message they were sending with these shirts. If you're pretty enough, you don't have to work hard. Things will come easy to you based on your looks. It's beauty over brains, because that's what society views as important and a measure of your true worth. You're too pretty to put in effort. That's for ugly girls. (If you're not pretty, well then you better be smart and be prepared to work hard.) What kind of message is that for young girls? I find it disheartening and shameful.
"Allergic to Algebra" just reinforces the stereotype that girls are bad at math, even though there is nothing that supports line of thinking. Girls should never feel that boys have an inborn advantage in math and science due to the fact they are males. The message is a harmful stereotype that can be incredibly detrimental to a child’s personal achievement.
We should not let a slogan on a cheap shirt demean our daughters.
It's time that we told those people they are full of it. It's time we take back what they took from us. It's time that we make sure our daughters never lose sight of the fact that they are and always will be amazing.