The sweetest thing happened to me the other day…
As I was getting Rose ready for school, I picked out one of my favorite t-shirts of hers. It’s a vintage-looking Wonder Woman shirt in faded yellow with orange trim. With the shirt and her amazing strawberry-blonde curls, she looked just like she had stepped off the set of “Stranger Things.” I just HAD to have a picture.
As she was posing by the flowers on our front porch, she struck up a conversation. She said “Mommy, why didn’t you watch Wonder Woman when you were a little girl?” I told her, “Well, she wasn’t as popular back then.” I was a late-70’s kid, which meant that I was too young to have caught it on the first wave and not old enough for it to have been fashionably ironic yet.
I told her that I did love to watch the cartoon “She-Ra” though. I watched it every day after school. I was She-Ra for Halloween. I had a She-Ra birthday party. I had a whole entourage of friends to play She-Ra on the playground every day for about a year. I was ALL IN. She seemed to accept this answer, and we went about our impromptu photoshoot.
A few minutes later, as we were headed to the car, she said something which made me the proudest mother ever…
“Mommy, was She-Ra a strong girl?”
I smiled through my happy tears: “Yes, Rose. She-Ra was a VERY strong girl. Just like Wonder Woman, and just like YOU!”
It doesn’t happen all the time, but standing outside that morning, with the sun just rising above the trees, the grass wet from the sprinklers, and a slight chill in the air, I knew. I knew that I was doing everything in my power to raise Rose to be a strong woman. I knew that the strength my parents had instilled in me was being passed on to her. I knew that I would continue to overload her with images of female intelligence, self-sufficiency, and leadership. I knew bombarding her with strong images was leading to success evidenced by her thoughtful question.
So moms and dads, what CAN we do to make sure we raise our girls to be strong women someday? First, we can absolutely bombard them with positive female role models. Secondly, we can offer praise when we see a female character on television acting strong, self-confident, or showing leadership skills. We can speak highly of the intelligent female characters who are so sadly relegated to nerdy sidekicks. Except for Hermione, thank heaven for Hermione.
Take your daughters to a female doctor and dentist so they can see those role models in action first-hand. Substitute feminine pronouns whenever possible when talking about bosses, leaders, and CEOs. Make a big deal out of the female candidates running for office. Remind her that “Mommy can fix things too” when she naturally runs to her dad for help…
All of these things. We have to do all of these things and MORE. We have to overcome an entire world of biased images with which our girls are being bombarded every day.
So, can you overdo it? It’s a question I ask myself sometimes. Then I ask myself, would I hesitate to teach my son Dylan to be a strong leader?
And that is exactly why we can’t overdo it and why we have to continue to work at it so hard…because the more strong women are in the world, the more strong women they will raise…
Until next time,
Keep raising extraordinary kids,