I often think about what little girls are influenced by. I ponder this, because I remark on how my upbringing and my experiences as a small child helped to form and establish how I feel, react, and process all the things that happen to me as an adult lady. Is it because I spent the majority of my childhood with senior citizens playing cards, doing crafts, and ‘gossiping’ that has shaped me into someone who can shoot the breeze with just about anyone, adapt to most craft styles, and facilitate a desire to have a social life and relationships that go beyond taking shots and fighting over boys? What kind of influence was it on my personality because I was overweight for most of my childhood? I know, as people often remark, that I’m overly kind, pretty attune to my sensitivity, and a fierce observer. Not fitting in (literally) as a child has made me more interesting as an adult, because the status-quo never suited me. In my opinion, I always had to think outside the box and dream up my spin on things, because simply most things didn’t agree with my height/bodyshape/personality etc. I don’t wait for something to become trendy to fall head first into it (come on crochet tissue box covers!), I don’t care if something is ‘cool’ (see any post on this blog haha 😉 ), and most of all I seek out and spend time with the things that bring me joy. Especially in my journey as a sober woman, I have never been more confident and in love with the identity I have.
Now, that seems like a statement of I’M THE BEST ADULT EVER, which is most certainly is not. Depending on who you ask my status an ‘adult’ is still pending most days. However, I had to reflect upon the morals, integrity, and respect that I posses and credit my own personal code after attending the M.I.A. concert last night at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
Now, do not get me wrong, when I looked around the venue there was a vast breadth of individuals – many with unique/interesting styles, all races, sexual orientations, and shapes/sizes. But, there was something wrong. As I looked at the younger women of the audience (~18-30), I saw nothing impressive. I saw giggly girls following each other around, dressed in ways that made me sad and embarrassed for them. They were mere clones of each other, wandering clones. I overheard empty conversations about Vine videos, if a boy was sexting another girl, gendered/physical name calling for concert maladies like bumping into each other, and worst – apathetic nothings. I’m not meaning this as a judgement, but more rather, as a concern. What is going on with these young women? What are their aspirations? Is it to be a size 0 and have boys sext them whilst they stand in a lycra leotard waiting for a political fugazi to perform at the same time having no individual opinion about the world? I surely hope not.
Is it purely a ‘growing up’ thing? A slow-to-mature issue? I’m hoping, because I am concerned. Where are the young girls who are fighting to be heard and pissed as hell they aren’t being heard properly? I didn’t see any young women like this last night, I only saw giggly girls. The more I am exposed to ‘youth culture’ and to what young women respond to and are expected to live up to the more I am sickened. Role models or not, the objectives of most young women these days revolve around gross self-confidence issues, in my opinion. When I see most young women, especially at bars/clubs, I can only feel disturbed. Where has the self-respect and confidence gone? Will it ever even form? Who will these giggly girls grow up to be? How will they benefit not only the female gender collectively, but the world?
I work with BRILLIANT women in my job – we joke about silly things and I teach them to knit and crochet on lunch breaks – but they are never missing that look of confidence. I know they have desires and dreams that inspire and make me want to be a better woman for this world too. What is missing outside academics? Why are little girls not dreaming up their educations or executive positions at fortune 500 companies? Why are little girls growing up to be giggly girls that hurl vicious words at each other over such shallow and vapid concerns?
Has it always been this way? I can’t say it enough. I’m worried about our world. Our social structures and compassion seem to be breaking down with each new app that is launched. I want women to be inspired to live to their potential. I want to see that brilliant confidence shine in every single little girl’s eyes.
Things need to change – they must. Where can we go and what can we do to begin?
But the basic starting point is to tell any little girls in your life that they matter. That they are brilliant. That they are worthy of everything.
Redefine the meaning of the traditional princess dreams for little girls. Make their dreams inspired by inspiring them to do great and awesome things.
7 thoughts on “M.I.A. – What do little girls dream about?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about these things too. I read this article How to Talk to Little Girls, and I’ve been trying to keep it in mind, and it’s amazing how I’ve had to make a conscience effort to be better. (And how I start planning conversation-starters for the younger girls in my family!)
So much to think about!
I read that article long ago, and found it to be so true…
I still occasionally catch myself out telling my niece how beautiful she is – instead of pointing out how smart or interesting she is 😛 I am making an effort to undo the stereotype cast in us by society, and praise girls for the inner worth rather than their exterior appearance.
I discussed this article many times with female friends and it got them thinking too
Thanks for sharing it 🙂
What a wonderful article. Thank you so much. I really am so glad to find that so many other women are talking and thinking about this issue and helping to guide young girls on a path to success. 🙂
Sometimes it seems we’re going backward instead of foward culturally speaking.I was intrigued by the above article so I read it and can say that the author saw it right….there is a lack of reading and consequently of true values among the young population!I remember that I fought a lot to be heard when I was young and had a lot of ideals for which living to….all things that girls don’t do nowadays….this is heart breaking because this world is worth to be lived properly,there are so many things that make our life better and pleasant,it is just a matter of giving them their real value…..thanks,Bree,for this great post and the sensibility shown about this difficult topic…. ❤ ❤ ❤
Thanks Tajana! I always appreciate your feedback and am so glad you think this is an important objective for women and girls. I agree that finding the value in things is most important and I really hope that more women take it upon themselves to help young girls realize their value and merit. ❤
you read my mind!
For what is worth, i always try to suggest teens and young women that one can think out of the box and have her own opinion, that they’re worth and have the right to aspire to a great future – be it in academy or in industry, that stereotyped roles are put on us but we need not follow them…
Hopefully, showing by example, it can inspire them to be more assertive and deep. I think it does make a difference, though small it may be. My teen niece seems to respond to it, to a degree.
In my opinion, it’s a lot down to peer and societal pressure – what young women are allowed to think, do or look like. Mostly, there is an expectation that women are beautiful and men are smart/powerful. There is a wild objectification of women in the media and this may result in a brain-wash scenario.
Basic self-respect and confidence are very low among young women, respect and compassion often seem to be replaced by aggression, name-calling or bullying. Perhaps it’s a mechanism they devise to protect themselves in an hostile environment? Also, the example coming from their families may play a role – my mother used to read a lot and she occasionally brought me to visit a museum or we watched documentaries together – I wonder what effect that had on myself as a kid.. I’d say a bold and long-lasting one.
The example of the women in my family played an important role in my development, I think.
Judith, I completely agree. I think family plays a key role in establishing character and personality. I also think that family has the power to instill original and unique identities versus peer pressure. I’m so grateful I was brought up to consider myself an individual and although sometimes it was lonely, I truly appreciate the childhood I had that did not include me ‘fitting in.’ I am now surrounded by the things that make me happy and by people (especially women) who inspire me and force me to look at the world in way that fosters growth. Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m glad to know that there are other strong, creative, and like-minded women working to instill character and individuality in our youth. 🙂