Yesterday, we hosted a holiday get-together for members of our Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT). Allison and I had been very excited about this event for weeks. Right before we met, we went to my favorite store (yes, Target) to buy all of the multiple sugar items that we would need. When we paid for the items with our company card, the Target cashier (a woman) asked us “What kind of business do you have.” I said, “We run a summer program for girls.” “Oh! That’s cool,” she said. “Give them something better to do than texting and chasing boys.”
Our GGLT girls are some of my favorite people on the planet…no exaggeration. I love them because they are brilliant, brave, funny, strong, creative, loving, and bold. Many of our GGLT members have grown up with us in our program and seeing them grow into adolescence has been one of the biggest joys of my life.
The cashier’s statement makes me sad and angry that we live in a world where all of us (even women) stereotype adolescent girls in such limiting and potentially damaging ways. I want that cashier (and you) to know all the things we did yesterday that have nothing to do with cell phones or boys…
- We made and decorated sugar cookies and rice crispy treats.
- We played Telephone Pictionary.
- We created a gratitude garland featuring all the reasons we are so grateful to be Go Girls!. The girls said things like:
I am grateful for being able to be a role model.”
I am grateful for the younger girls who actually listen to me!”
I am grateful for the Go Girls! teachers because they treat me like a teacher too, not like a kid.”
I am thankful for a community.”
I am just thankful that Go Girls! exists.”
- We talked about some of the individual girls we worked with this past summer; sharing gratitudes for all of them, even the girls whose behaviors were more challenging…”I am grateful for the patience they taught me.”
- We laughed…a lot.
- We gave hugs and high fives and “see you this summer”s.
Can I say that cell phones never came out or that boys never came up in the conversation? No, I definitely cannot claim that. Those things are certainly important elements of a young girl’s life. But, they are not the only parts and they are often not even the most important parts. We have to stop villainizing adolescent girls. We have to wake up and realize that they are not shallow, self-involved mean girls (or victims) who are on put on this planet to annoy us. Adolescent girls are fun and silly and serious and smart and playful and powerful and possess the potential to lead us towards the better world we all want to live in. Got it?
Now, I have to go. I have to send a quick text.