I have the great privilege – and occasional stress – of raising a girl. Right now. In the midst of the Disney, Hannah Montana, pink/princess media blitz. It’s been . . . challenging, but I have to admit, mostly really cool. The coolness factor comes out of all the fun things about new technology, 21st century kid power, and, of course, the resurgence of awesome books. After all, it’s good to be a geek now. It’s especially good to be a savvy, personable geek who can put together an excellently creative outfit or two (let’s face it, some things never change . . . ).
But the dark side of all this is essentially the “pink.” And (rant coming, apologies!) not just the color, but all that it seems to mean: treat me like a princess, dress me up like I’m 15 when I’m 7, please look at me and notice me and want to be me . . . etc. etc. Not to rain on everyone’s princess parade, but let’s be real. What does that look like when you’re 16? 18? 20? Having fun teaching these girls in the classroom? Yeah, I thought so. I realize that not every girl becomes a pink princess monster and that some pink is ok, I mean, I’m all in for everything in moderation. However, there’s something incredibly insidious about the layers and layers of pink, and how and where we (don’t) place girls and girl power today.
I’ve tried to check this with my daughter. The trick has been how to do this without it all coming from me. Luckily, I have had some excellent allies and feel compelled to give them a shout out, particularly since this is the week the new Twilight movie is being released. And while Movie Bella is a bit tougher, Book Bella sets girls back about 200 years. (There, I said it, let the hate begin. For reference: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37545960/ns/today-entertainment/) So, personal shouts out to 3 pop culture/media icons who care about others and never play stupid: Hermione, Carmen Cortez, and Katara. Because one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that there’s nothing like pop culture to counter to pop culture.
To Hermione, the top of the list, who made reading, being curious, asking questions, and being a bit odd seem really brave and cool – I thank you. I could write an ode to all the ways my daughter has looked to you as a role model over the years, but that would just take too long and probably get too sappy. I’ll just say that my daughter first watched Sorcerer’s Stone when she was three and she hasn’t looked back since. She’s hanging out reading as I write this, as a matter of fact. And while I’d like to take all the credit, well, there’s no denying you’ve left your mark. We hated that Warner Bros. made you wear pink in Goblet of Fire, but we all know you would rather have worn blue, and that’s what matters.
To Carmen Cortez (one of the Spy Kids), thanks for encouraging my daughter to be tough and not at all demure around boys, especially ones related to her. And you sing and dance too, which, in this family, is a huge bonus.
And last, to Katara (from the Last Airbender), although you’re probably the most traditional “girl” of the bunch, you ask all the right questions about what one does with their own personal power and the choices set before them. And you face them, head on. Movie-you debuts this week as well, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because, as Hermione well knows, certain types of girl power don’t always translate well to the big screen.
At least they’re “letting you” wear blue. Rock on.