I was sitting outside with four of my 6th grade students – all girls. Tomorrow is Spring Picture Day and students don’t have to wear their uniform of red/white/blue polo shirt and tan pants. It’s a rare “Free Dress Day” for them.
“It’s Free Dress Day tomorrow!” One hollered.
“I’m not wearing a dress though, even though it’s picture day,” sighed another.
“Yeah, wearing a dress on Free Dress Day is a total waste!”
I did not think I’d like this show. But I’m hooked. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle had a vision and made it come true – despite many obstacles. The title might refer to boys/men, but the show is ALL girl. Erskine and Konkle are Executive Producers, writers, actors and creators of the show. Check them out on Hulu.com.
Their story reminds me of Seth Godin’s quote:
“Don’t try to be the ‘next’. Instead, try to be the other, the changer, the new. “
Salma Hayek told Oprah a story: When she was 10, there was a neighborhood flasher. This man accosted her and exposed his full frontal nudity. “I was terrified, just so scared…” She went home and told her grandmother who then gave this advice (Hayek offered a disclaimer – she is by no means telling little girls they ought to do this) BUT…
“The next time that man flashes you – even if you are terrified and alone – LAUGH at him. Point at his groin and LAUGH.”
The man DID flash her again. And little Salma stopped. She felt her entire body tighten with fear. But she remembered her grandmother’s advice. So she stared, pointed at his groin and laughed.
“He ran away, he cowered and ran away!” Hayek says, still incredulous.
Recently, I (wo)manned a booth at our school’s International Festival. We were making maracas using empty toilet paper rolls, duct tape and (uncooked) beans and rice. Kids of all ages and sizes came to make their maracas.
After just one hour, I realized something: six and seven-year-old girls came up confidently and chose their colors without hesitation. “I want blue! And red! And green!” They taped their rolls, scooped up rice, taped again and smiled radiantly.
Teenage girls, however, hemmed and hawed, wracked with indecision. “Ummmmm. I dunno. I dunno what to choose! Ummmm…” It took them far longer to decide and even after they decided, they second-guessed their decisions and did not seem entirely happy with their results.
While pregnant with her, the most astounding thing happened! I would put food in my mouth and chew. She’d kick like mad before I even swallowed. This occurred every time. I was incredulous – what a baby!
When she was two, she had chocolate cake. She kicked her feet high in delight. The frosting was all over her face and her eyes shone with joy.
At four, she had pizza. How she held it in her tiny, pudgy hands!
She’s had many meals since then. With girlish abandon, she eats what she wants when she wants: warm bread with butter, garlic mashed potatoes, steak, ice cream sundaes and healthy food, too.
She. Loves. Food. She likes high quality food. She can discern whether ingredients are fresh and she doesn’t like gristle on her steak.
She also loves dance class. She loves to learn challenging moves and practice them over and over and get good at it. She’s made such progress! Her body is lithe, supple and strong.
She’s my baby. She’s 15, but she’s my baby and I want her to be happy and healthy. I want her to love eating, dancing, laughing and playing violin all the rest of her days. I want her to enjoy life!
But our culture wants to destroy her. American society wants her mind to be cloudy with insecurity and a bit of self-hatred. Air-brushed models are in magazines, surgically modified celebrities are on TV, the Internet and film.
Even family members make comments. Grandparents plant seeds of doubt when they caution against weight gain. They compare sisters to each other, silently massacring dreams and self-confidence. They undermine the strong sisterly bond that exists. Well, they try anyway. These girls have each other’s backs, thank goodness.
If she were my son, would you tell him to watch what he eats? Would you scare him and tell him he might get fat if he “puts that” in his mouth? Would you comment on his figure as he stands in front of the fridge?
Please…I implore you…stop it. Stop with the comments and the body shaming. Stop trying to exert control through fear.