The other day, this commercial grabbed my attention. It so perfectly encapsulates how I do NOT want to raise my daughter.
Did you watch it? Did it move you?
It moved me – to tears, even.
According to the statistics at the end, 66% of girls in the 4th grade say that they like math and science. However, by the time they are in college, that number has drastically dwindled. Only 18% of the engineering majors are girls!
As a fourth grade teacher, this means that maybe 6-7 of my girls would like science/math, but maybe only 2 by college would do something with that passion. Incredible!
I know there are many, many more factors that go into those decisions, but our words DO hold power.
I DO tell my daughter she’s pretty – because she is. Personally, I think she’s one of the prettiest little divas around and I am incredibly blessed to have her prettiness in my world. But, I certainly don’t want her believing that her beauty defines her worth.
So, yes, I do tell my daughter she’s pretty, but what I DON’T do is leave it at that. I don’t tell she’s “such a pretty girl” and walk away. I don’t tell her every day how beautiful she is, unless I counter it with how sweet she is, how smart she is, how silly she is, etc. I want her self-worth to be in who she is, now how she looks. I want her to know that her tastes, interests and hobbies do not have to be dictated by her gender. Granted, I catch myself catering to her feminine side more, but I do try to find a balance in our home.
I do my best to encourage messy, imaginative play outside. We have a transportation themed sand/water table sitting beside a pink and purple Cozy Coupe. There is a pink swing hanging on a blue and yellow swing set. A girly set of gardening tools are sitting in the dirt, ready for her to dig up worms. This little girl wears red cowgirl boots with a Cinderella ballgown and chases birds and butterflies or plays with plastic snakes. We have watched Frozen and Cinderella as many times as we’ve watched The Jungle Book and Thomas the Train.
As we begin her schooling in a few years, I want her to be driven to learn and discover her passions. They may be math and science; they may be writing and reading. But, regardless, I want those passions to be dictated by her, not what the world says she should like. I never, ever, ever want her to look at a science project, a math problem, or an activity and think, “I’m a girl. I can’t like that.”
In my own way, I guess I have taken the infamous scene from The Help to heart – the scene where every morning Aibileen reminds Mae Mobley that she is kind, she is smart, and she is important. I want my daughter to know she is kind, she is smart, she is important. I want her to know she is beautiful, that she is pretty – but I want her to know she is beautiful because of who she is, not how she looks.
This sassy, independent, strong-willed, adventurous little diva I am raising is going to move mountains. This child is fierce – and I never want to diminish that spark with a dousing of “pretty”.