I am a feminist. If you’re not really sure what that means, please read this blog post from last year where I share what a feminist is and why I want my daughters to be one. I feel so lucky to have my girls (and I know I’d also feel the same way if I had boys). However, raising daughters comes with a unique set of challenges, concerns, lessons, rewards, and triumphs in the world we currently live in. As a feminist mom of 2 daughters, here are 3 frustrations that have been weighing on my mind lately.
1. When people use the phrase “like a girl” in a negative way. I can’t even describe to you how much I despise it. Nobody has the right to use that as an insult. As if doing something like a female is not as good as doing it like a male. Have you seen the Always #LikeAGirl commercial? If not, I highly recommend you watch it now. Its purpose is to take the phrase “like a girl” with a negative connotation and transform it into a positive affirmation. How awesome is that?
2. Labeling. For example, there is no such thing as “boy toys” and “girl toys.” I encourage my daughters to choose based on their likes and interests, and ignore the gender stereotypes. Labeling is not allowed in my house. McDonald’s is notorious for asking if the Happy Meals you order are for girls or boys. Now I ask what the toy is before I answer. The last time we went there I ordered two “boy” Happy Meals because I knew my daughters would enjoy that toy more than the “girl” toy. Amazon has the right idea. They recently ditched the “boys” and “girls” categories for toys. Bravo! I mean, how can you possibly say that because you’re a certain gender you should want to play with specific toys? My oldest daughter also went through a phase where she would say she didn’t like anything blue because it’s a “boy color.” I nipped that one in the bud and told her there’s no such thing as boy and girl colors. It certainly helped that I was able to use her dad and grandpa as examples. Her daddy wears pink, her sister’s favorite color is blue, and her grandpa’s favorite color is purple.
3. The way society puts pressure on women to look and act a certain way. I don’t want my daughters to become obsessed with losing weight or being thin. What I do want is for them to strive to be healthy. I’m making a conscious effort now, while my daughters are still very young, to do what I can to prevent them from suffering from eating disorders when they get older. For one thing, I absolutely NEVER use the word diet. If they ask why I am (or am not) eating something I simply say that I’m trying to eat healthier foods. Females are much more likely to suffer from eating disorders than males.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD):
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
Those statistics terrify me. I want nothing more than for my daughters to keep the confidence they have now in themselves and with their bodies as they continue to grow older.
My rough and tumble, beautiful, sweet and innocent little girls. I hope that as they grow older they continue to do things “like a girl,” make choices based on what they like despite gender stereotypes, and maintain the healthy body image they have now.