My daughter’s sixth grade class participates in an annual tradition in her school called “The Wax Museum.” The children choose a person/character they would like to represent, and then dress up during a special day in which the entire school participates. My daughter’s first choice was Massie, the Queen Bee of a prep school in the Clique book series by Lisi Harrison. Then she decided perhaps Dawn Wells, Mary Anne from Gilligan’s Island was a better choice until she Googled her and learned about her reckless driving arrest, et al.
“What about Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court?” I asked.
“Susan B. Anthony? You can be handcuffed and be her when she tried to vote.”
“Kathrine Switzer, the first women to register and run in the all male Boston Marathon in 1967? You can wear a jogging suit with your number half way ripped off like it was on the day she ran when the race director tried to pull it off.
“Margaret Thatcher? You can use your British accent.”
“No. Tell me some women around today,” she asked.
What was so distressing is watching her dejected face each time I suggested a great woman. Clearly, no feeling of pride for what women endured and eventually overcame. Finally, I convinced her that Jackie Kennedy was a grand choice, “She redecorated the White House; she was lovely and glamorous; and she became a book editor after her husband died.”
When I polled her friends on their choices, I was told – Laura Ingalls (young life), Laura Ingalls Wilder (older), Queen Elizabeth, I don’t know, JK Rowling, Snape (male character in Rowling’s Harry Potter series – don’t ask), and Annie Oakley. That’s the best we’ve got for our girls, two girls sharing Laura Ingalls Wilder? She’s a great choice, but where are the contemporary role models?
The Washington Post printed an article in February of this year suggesting great movies for girls with positive role models – A League of Their Own (not bad), Miss Congeniality (huh?), Fly Away Home and Whale Rider. Really? That’s the best we have to offer our girls?
Not surprisingly, kids (including mine) watch far too much television. This article suggests, “One report indicates that for girls ages 12 – 17 years old, 3 out of 4 of their favorite television shows were reality TV shows.”
I think the only clear choice for us moms is to torture our children with one story a week about a woman who did the unthinkable, solved the unsolvable, reached the unreachable and put her stake into the big mountain of I DID IT!
And maybe, just maybe they will understand what it means to really want something so badly that attaining it may just diminish their personal bank of character, will and reputation. Let’s hope that our girls will some day learn that the reward for of one’s hard work is more than money. Daughters of the 21st Century are going to be shocked to find that some things just can’t bought, instead the price is much higher and often much more difficult to spend.