I don’t pretend to be the perfect mom. I’m the first to admit that my preferred way to clean the house is with an industrial-sized bubble machine. I also probably shouldn’t tell you why I know that the car attachments for the ShopVac work awesome on the toaster over. I live outside the box, so when I was introduced to the Mighty Girl Movement, my mind grabbed hold with both finger-painted hands.
As any mom of a fabulous toddler girl knows, our society can be..well, a little slanted. We get used to it and simply stop noticing until something jars us back to awareness. My most recent awakening was a long drive to see relatives and swinging (in desperation) through a McDonald’s drive through. The cashier asked if the Happy Meal was for a girl or a boy. Wha? Why? Oh right. Gender segregation. And I should line up and blindly trust that Ronald McDonald will know exactly what girls and boys should like. Grrrr.
If you have a daughter and haven’t heard of A Might Girl you need to (www.amightygirl.com). A momentum geared towards re-re-re-minding us how so many awesome women have participated in shaping our world through medicine, science, art, education – many without much more than a footnote of credit. The Mighty Girl movement brings these female hero’s contributions back into focus, imparting on us that we are not just a pink Happy Meal with a Disney Princess toy. We are quite Mighty.
Growing up, my personal world view of what made a strong and powerful woman was based on old ZZ Top videos. If you were gorgeous, you had it all. Ugly women stepped aside to let you pass, men fell at your feet with gifts, and limos pulled up out of nowhere to drive you away into the sunset. Hmm. My mom was awesome and we got a great foundation on what made a good person, but there wasn’t a lot of leadership there on what made a good woman, probably because that wasn’t a “thing” then. Society was left to fill in the blanks on that, and quite frankly, society sucks. So here I come, new mom with a girl child – what can I do that will help her aspire to be more than just a pretty face?
With my Mighty Girl goggles on, I can better see where the holes in the fabric of female empowerment are, and better identify them when they come up. Here are a few places I’ve noticed that I need to take a stand and lead by shining example at home:
Exercise: Yes, my downward dog looks more like a dead elephant but I’m doing it. I care about my health and physical wellbeing and my daughter sees that as a value important enough to be made into a daily way of life.
Eating Right: You can’t tell a kid not to eat cookies for dinner and then do it yourself. Eat healthy. Filling your body with vegetables isn’t a chore, it’s a privilege.
Being Authentic: We are very silly in our house. We spend hours perfecting animal noises, taking crazy-face selfies and having dance parties. And when we go out in public, it is no different. We are unembarrassed because there is nothing wrong with being who you really are.
Appearance: My little fashionista will spend weeks wearing mis-matched socks because she simply couldn’t choose which pair she liked better with her outfit. Who says we have to wear matching socks? We wear what makes us happy. Sometimes we learn difficult lessons about proper footwear or not wearing a jacket, but for the most part we are beautiful and completely original!
Weight: I will never, ever complain about my weight in front of my daughter. It is a pledge I made to myself when she was born. I’ll never joke that “Mama’s too fat to wear a bathing suit to the water park” or “Mama would break the swing if she joined you”. Nope. She’ll hear enough judgmental messages from the outside world, she doesn’t need to hear it at home.
Aging: When I started going grey in my early thirties, I took up my place in the armies of women dying their roots to hide their years from the world. Why? Everyone grows older, it is natural and expected. Around the time I became pregnant I made the decision that I wouldn’t add unnecessary toxins (hair dye) to my body. But it became more than that. The sprouting grey became a badge of wisdom and another level I can proclaim my authenticity to my impressionable daughter and the other young girls of the world.
Communication: In my house we made a rule – no yelling. They say once you raise your voice, you’ve lost the argument. That was never more true than with a toddler. When we cease to listen, we get ourselves so worked up that we feel like we have to yell. Take an extra moment to listen. To understand. Walking through the problem teaches life skills she’ll be able to use going forward.
Goals: All women need goals. Little girls need to watch women go through the process of deciding what they want to do and then watching them work for it. Share what it looks like to work towards personal and professional accomplishments. Wether you are training for a marathon or climbing the corporate ladder – illustrate the process with your little ones – especially your little girls!
A Mighty Girl has multiple social media accounts with tips, reminders and strategies on raising your own Mighty Girl! We are beautiful, strong, smart, independent and we don’t need your “girl” toys anymore, thanks.