I recently saw Always' new #LikeAGirl "Unstoppable" PSA and, whatever their motivation, found it extremely compelling. It reminded me that I always need to question how I communicate with kids. Yes, I generally suffer from an untreatable case of "foot in mouth disease", but I do try to maintain a reasonable level of self-awareness when I'm filling those little heads with nonsense. Especially when I see adults, including myself, wrestle with crises of confidence and insecurities that linger from our childhoods.
How do we go about reinforcing messages that empower our kids?
When it comes to gender roles and self-esteem, I've read a lot of commentary about eradicating sexist terminology like "be a man" and "that's so girly" from our lexicon. Instead, I tend to go with an exasperated "Sweet Mother of Pearl!"; usage of the term is quite cathartic whenever I find myself frustrated by questionable behavior. Which is always.
Maybe quit with the sexist toys for kids. My friend Jenna over at High Gloss and Sauce, now Jenna's Type, penned an excellent post on the bullshittery that is the BIG BOX STORE "girls''" aisle (and boys' aisles are no better). Tell me, do we REALLY think a pink globe is what's going to make or break a geography-lover? No. Someone who enjoys memorizing Africa's 53 countries in alpha order is going to heart geography no matter the color of the globe's stand. And she, my friends, is the kid you want to sit next to during a test.
Rot your kids' brains with shows that portray men and women behaving as normal, capable human beings. Programs like Sid the Science Kid, Wild Kratts, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman promote cooperation without assigning gender roles. Crazy, right?
Picture books like The Paperbag Princess, Violet the Pilot Madeline, and I am Inventing and Invention are easy, fun stories that present powerful independent females as protagonists. There exists zillions of book lists that offer stories challenging traditional gender roles.
I'm not saying that kids shouldn't assert themselves when it comes to preferences (I loved pink as much as He-Man), nor am I so naive that I believe we can rid the world of sexism by changing some toys or watching a few shows. However, if we are more cognizant of just how we project gender stereotypes onto kids, perhaps we can empower these tiny people to grow into more confident, respectful adults.
#LikeAGirl "Unstoppable" PSA
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