A Little Girl Defines Princesses

This story was sent in by PPBB Mom Katie N:

“She gets it! My seven-year-old daughter overheard me make a hypothesis.

Last night a young friend declared that princesses need rescuing. During my lengthy argume– discussion with him, it became apparent that this was very deeply ingrained. As far as he had been taught, princesses are always needing to be rescued. His dad is very anti-princess. My hypothesis was that his dad didn’t want his sister to be into princesses because he also believes that princesses are weak and always needing rescuing.

My daughter asked me why he believed that. I said he probably believes it because that is what our society teaches. That’s what video games show and what stories often tell.

She got a little riled up: ‘But princesses aren’t like that! Princesses are strong and brave! *throws up bicep curl/victory fist* So are girls. Girls are just like princesses!’

She walked on for a bit, seemingly over her moment of passion. But then she stopped to let me catch up. She told me that tomorrow we should have some girl time to see how strong and brave we are.”

Image via thedeadintern.tumblr.com

Image via thedeadintern.tumblr.com

Further reading: 

Historical warrior princesses vs today’s “princess camps”: A Princess Camp Worthy Of Our Girls

How parents can help redefine what “princess” can mean: Repackaging Princesses  and A Different Narrative

Pointing out how ingrained in culture “princess = girls” is: A Sparkly Mermaid Princess Did Not Remove My Gall Bladder

A book list that helps shift the princess image: The Redefine Princessy Book List

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

Room To Feel Uncomfortable

My daughter headed to second grade today feeling very rotten about herself and I did little to make her feel better. You see the night before while she was supposed to be reading her book report book she did an epic job of wasting time by holding a massive pity party. Her behavior was ridiculous and once she came around she expressed great remorse for how she had behaved and the time that she had wasted. She chose to skip dinner and go read in her bed, buried under blankets. After a half hour I crawled up to the top bunk and snuggled with her as she read the final chapters of her book aloud to me. We talked about her choices, that it doesn’t make sense to be upset about the past because it is not something she can change, and that the best thing to do is move forward making better choices from what she had learned from her mistakes.

At breakfast this morning she still had to write her report (three sentences), illustrate her point, and review her spelling words. The morning was rushed and hectic and she was tardy for school, which made her little brother tardy. We walked her brother to his classroom and she apologized to his teacher, taking responsibility for her actions. She and I then walked hand in hand to her locker and while I didn’t say anything to make her feel better or dissipate the seriousness of her disrespecting her education, I gave her lots of hugs and let her know that I loved her.

“I feel ashamed of myself,” she said as she hung her head and fought tears.

“Here’s the thing, Buddy. I love you even when you mess up. You messed up. Now it is done with. Focus instead on having a great day at school. Your report was completed, you may or may not do well on your spelling test, and you learned your lesson. Mr. Teacher is still proud of you and I am still in your corner.”

“Have you ever done something like this?”

“For sure I have. You bet. And I know the only way to make it better is to feel rotten about it first.”

“I feel rotten.”

“Yep, that’s what growth feels like, Smalls. C’mon, I will walk you to class and let’s get ready to improve the rest of our day.” Her shoulders were still slumped and the sparkle had not yet returned to her eyes, but she knew that I loved her and that I would be there with a hug at the end of her school day.

 

I could have made everything easy for her, reading the book to her so that she would finish more quickly or writing an excuse note to her teacher. I could have told her it was no big deal, we’ll just turn it in Monday. I could have apologized to her for her feeling badly and asked what can be done to make it all better.

I’m just not an “Everybody gets a trophy!” kind of mom. I’m okay if my kids lose or are not awarded prizes for every little thing. I don’t feel an obligation to make sure my kids feel fabulous all of the time. That is a tv commercial, not real life. Life doesn’t come with a sweet soundtrack and sparkles and cupcake parties and limited hard decisions like what color lip gloss to wear. She is not a princess for whom every need and want will be catered to. That is what the media tells her about life as a girl. I have a different version, and it is one that involves this little girl respecting the potential of her mind.

Making it all better for her would sell her short and signal that I am not doing my job. It would also signal that I do not respect her. As her parent it is not my responsibility nor in her best interest to anesthetize the world for her. Of course I want to protect her from harm and provide her positive experiences, I just need her to recognize that sometimes positive experiences don’t feel great. They feel rotten.

 

Teaching Our Daughters Not To Apologize For Using Their Voices

This morning I shared this thought, and it led to a bigger discussion than I was anticipating…..

Something I want parents to think about: This morning I was talking with some ladies in my print shop trying to figure out the logistics of a large wholesale order that I have coming up. During our conversation one of the ladies spoke up and offered some very good advice that was just what I needed to hear. I thanked her for comments and based on what she said we moved forward with our plan.

But when she was finished speaking, she put her palms up in the air and said, “You know I’m just nobody, I don’t know all that much!”

I asked her not to sell herself short, that clearly she did know quite a bit because she helped me worked through my dilemma and that she had been very helpful.

I frequently hear women do this (and sometimes men) and it drives me crazy. Here is what I want you to think about — when you make excuses for your intelligence instead of owning it, what do our kids but *specifically our girls* learn about using their voices? When you apologize for using your voice with a “I’m sorry but, this is what I think….” or in some other way disqualify the importance of what you are saying, what do our kids learn about who has the right to speak their truth and who doesn’t?

Don’t apologize or excuse away your intelligence. Own it. Use your voice.

Use Your Voice button from New Moon Girls, available at www.pigtailpals.com

 

The discussion that followed went on to analyze why people say, “I’m sorry, but…..” or “……, just kidding!” in ways that disqualify their statements. We also talked about why girls and women let the end of their sentences trail up, turning their statement into something more of a question. The historical context of the issue we are discussing is steeped in patriarchy and being told our voices do not count, do not matter. Girls and women are taught to take up less space, remember our places, never be arrogant, never be opinionated and rock the boat. Pretty and pleasing. I call bullshit!

Yes, it is learned behavior that (mostly) women have to unlearn and yes, that is not easy. Still, it is important that we are aware of the game being played and how we contribute (or not) to it. Even more important is that we not teach this game to our daughters.

If apologizing or erasing statements is a habit you have, please know this: I am not telling you to have confidence. That isn’t something you just “get”. It is something you build.

I am telling you not to give your permission away.

I am telling you not to apologize when you speak, especially when you do it in front of your daughters. What other people think of you is really none of your business. Speak your truth.

If you are having a civil discussion there is always room for disagreement, you do not have to disqualify your own words to make room for it.

Hear the difference between, “I’m sorry but” or “I don’t know anything but” and:
~ “My experience has been blah blah blah, of course you are welcome to disagree.”
~ “This will not be a popular opinion nonetheless it is a part of this conversation, blah blah blah”
~ “Blah blah blah blah blah, but I’m open to hearing what you have to say.”
~ “There are different angles to this, my thoughts are yadda yadda yadda.”

 

Parent Question: “My 8 year old daughter often speaks with the up ending in her sentences. I don’t know where she gets this (probably a friend at school) because I don’t speak this way. Any advice in how to help her with this? She’s incredibly shy about expressing her opinions and I don’t want to make her feel ashamed about how she speaks in any way.” -Julie

PPBB Answer: We really don’t want her to lose her voice and her confidence in using it. An important thing to remember is that her personality may be introverted or extroverted but that is not an indicator of her self confidence or self worth. She may not like talking in front of people, or prefer to share her ideas with a small group as opposed to the whole class. We need to be respectful of this, and I’m sure that you are.

Talking with her teacher to make sure she is participating in class and stating answers to questions is a good start. Maybe you and the teacher can develop some goals and confidence boosters for her, like raise her hand once a day during her favorite subject.

At home, ask her questions about things where the answer is more than a “yes or no” and she has to tell what she thinks. Or ask her to help be problem solver, because there is a lot of room to give solutions without knowing the one right answer. An example might be an issue with a sibling, a family practice that needs to change (maybe you need to get better about recycling, walking the dog, not wasting food), how to help a neighbor, plan a holiday meal, come up with a plan for to help the local food bank. Whatever, just get her talking. Make sure to speak to any siblings ahead of time so that they understand we are working as a team to grow her confidence and that any ridicule or rudeness towards her remarks will not be tolerated.
Maybe it is a BIG thing — like a proposal to the PTA or city council for recycling at school or helping the animal shelter. Even if you don’t actually go to the meeting and make a proposal, go through the motions at home. Her stuffed animals can be the audience, or maybe some moms from your group of friends. Or, have her draw a picture of the topic of discussion, post it on the fridge, and ask your spouse to ask her about it later that evening.

So how do we get her to stop up ending her sentences. That is a great question. When I hear kids do it, I always say, “Are you telling me this or asking me?” They say, “I’m telling you this.” I reply, “What you said was smart. Now say it again as a statement instead of a question.”
Or when she says, “I want chicken for dinner?” repeat it to her as a statement, “I want chicken for dinner.” Or make a joke of it, and add, “I want chicken for dinner. Please, dearest sweet wonderful mother of my life.” If she hears you model it, she will learn it. Just like when my kids say, “How many monies is this?” I say, “That is a good question. How much money does this cost?” I am acknowledging the correct thought process, and then redirecting the execution. Picture yourself as a basketball coach. You aren’t ridiculing her for missing the free throw, you are teaching her the correct form so that she has the skills to make bucket after bucket.

Listen to Girls, Celebrate Girls, Use Your Voice stickers/magnets/buttons by New Moon Girls available at www.pigtailpals.com.

Do you need a little reminder to help encourage good speaking habits?

Check out the New Moon Girls shop at www.pigtailpals.com.

These gorgeous designs come in posters, stickers, buttons, and magnets!

 

Should – Guest Post by Cammy Nelson

“Should” – A Guest Post by Cammy Nelson

“Should” is a powerful little word that has drained more energy, caused more stress and produced even more frustration than I want to think about for as long as I can remember.  I should do well in school, I should be a good friend, I should always be happy, I should make everyone around me happy, I should be the leader, I should get as involved as I could, I should make a difference NOW, I should, I should, I SHOULD. The word seemed to come at me from every area of my life: school, family, organizations, sports, and even myself. Then, a whole new level of should’s came at me. These were much worse and much more frustrating…

These shoulds told me that I should wear makeup, I should lose weight, I should go on a diet, I should have a boyfriend, I should hate my body, I shouldn’t speak up in class, I should always be nice, I should eat less, I should have perfect teeth, I should be popular, I should be PERFECT.  These should’s were trying to make me believe that I wasn’t good enough and I needed to “fix” the things that could be changed.

Well, I’m here to tell you a little something about that heavy “should” word – it’s just a word.  When I was in middle school, I would have loved it if someone had said to me “you can ignore that word, and any word, that makes you feel like you’re not good enough or that you need to be something you’re not.” The negativity surrounding me was horribly draining for me, and it still is for many girls.  THAT is what really needed to change.

For every girl who feels like she has a constantly growing list of “should’s” that need to be followed, I’ve created something better for you.  If I could hand my 12-year-old self a list of “should’s”, this is what it would look like…

  • You should be YOU. Exactly who you are right now. That girl is AWESOME and I want to see the rock star that she is.
  • You should do and wear whatever makes you feel confident!
  • You should write your own definition of beautiful. Make it whatever you believe real beauty looks like, sounds like, and acts like.
  • You should not be afraid of your bright light. Do not play small for anyone – that only hurts you.
  • You should learn about you and discover what you are passionate about.
  • You should be quiet if you need time alone to think, process, and develop ideas.
  • You should speak up when you want to share your voice, speak your mind, ask a question, share your dreams, help a friend, laugh… or whenever you want.
  • You should learn about the advertising you see every day. The reality behind it will shock you.
  • You should be a leader be a leader sometimes and a follower every now an then. You will not and do not need to know the answer at all times. Give yourself room to grow and learn.
  • You should do YOUR best. That’s the greatest strength you will ever feel.
  • You should never hide your intelligence. Smart girls are AWESOME!!!
  • You should be a good friend to those who are a good friend to you.
  • You should always believe in yourself – with confidence as your wings, you will fly higher than you can imagine.
  • You should learn about your body. Understand it, listen to it, take care of it, and love it. Your body carries you through life and will be there through all the amazing experiences you will have.
  • You should take it one day at a time. Things will seem overwhelming from time to time, but remember that the future comes one day at a time.
  • You should forge your own path, follow your dreams, and always, ALWAYS know that YOU ARE ENOUGH! You are everything you will become and you have it within you to make all of your dreams a reality.

 

To the brave girls reading this, you get to start making decisions for yourself now. You get to decide who you want to be, what’s important to you, and how you will get to where to want to be. Listening to the “should’s” of life will only hold you back. Spend your time thinking of the amazing experiences you will fill your life with, the people you want to surround you, and the dreams you have for the world. Try new things, make new friends, and step outside your comfort zone.  Ignore the negativity that comes your way and remember, the only thing that will ever really matter is that you are being you.

Cammy Nelson

 

 

Cammy Nelson is a speaker on girls, goals, and personal power. After spending nearly her entire life speaking on self-esteem and the media, Cammy is committed to creating change for girls through her inspiring message of empowerment and leadership. For more information on Cammy and her mission, visit www.givegirlsmore.weebly.com.

The Amazing, Incredible Birthday Card That is No Where To Be Found

My parents were down for a visit yesterday to celebrate Benny Boy’s 4th birthday, and my mom had brought along a little granny gift for Amelia – a beautiful encyclopedia of the ocean and all its wonders. Attached to the gift was this card…….

The Original Pigtail Pal is really excited about her card featuring heroines of the past.

The opening text says: “Granddaughter, the world has known some very remarkable women, and they all started out as remarkable girls -“  and the card goes on to show Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Marie Curie. Each women has her birthdate listed, and a 1-2 sentence bio. Susan B. Anthony’s reads, “Once arrested for daring to vote long before women were allowed (and then refusing to pay the fine), Susan spent her life working to inspire others to  believe in equal rights for women.”

How about that!?

This beautiful card is by American Greetings, out of Cleveland Ohio. I tried calling them today to tell them how much I love this card, but it was very difficult to get through to a person. I’ve also inquired about selling this on www.pigtailpals.com, so stay tuned for that.

The OPP's Gigi altered the card to be a Full of Awesome message.

The final panel of the card says: “Growing up with dreams and plans all your own, each year it becomes more clear that you’re going to do amazing things with your life! But for today, take time to celebrate the one-of-a-kind wonderful girl you already are.”

SERIOUSLY!!

My mom found this while shopping for Valentine’s cards (she thinks it was Wal-Mart or Target), and couldn’t wait to give it to Amelia. It is originally a birthday card, but my mom altered it a bit to be a Full of Awesome card. She said it was such a nice change “from the wall of pink princess sparkle unicorn crap”.   

I couldn’t agree more, and I have a little surprise headed your way this spring when it comes to cards and awesome kids. More to come on that.

I went to the American Greetings website, and it looks like in my area they are sold at Target, ShopKo, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General. I have never seen a card like this before. Ever. Neither had my mom, who did a happy dance in the aisle when she found it.

I’m not sure how to tell an item number for the card, but I bet you could approach your friendly store manager, ask if they carry the American Greetings line, describe the card and if they can order style #13390930. Or it might be #4397264. I’ll let you know what I find out once I’m able to speak with American Greetings.

I don’t have anything against princesses and unicorns, but I do have something against solid pink walls of princesses and hearts and kittens and unicorns and NO other choices for girls. And I’ve never seen text like that inside a card for a little girl unless I’ve hand written it. That needs to change. Choices for girls need to change, since there are so many amazing ways to be a girl.

Th