In my last blog, I commented on the complexities of everyday life and how the quest for the marshmallow can be seen as a bit fairytale-like. That got me thinking about fairy tales. Especially about fairytales and girls, and what all of this means for educating and launching girls into the women we hope and expect them to be.
We live in a world of princesses. They reign supreme. They are ubiquitous. On clothes, lunchboxes, notebooks, TV, in the movies and in our homes. Our girls have become princesses, much more than figuratively, and so much so that princess and girl have become synonymous. But isn’t this just what make girls girls? Harmless and cute, and something they will grow out of? Maybe.
But what if not? Girls need to prepare for real life. Schools play an obvious role in this. But schools won´t prepare girls for the real world unless teachers can inspire big dreams and give them the tools to make them come true. Girls are already underrepresented in fields like science and math, and often lack the confidence to take the world by storm. Three of the most common disorders in girls are low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders.
Life is not a fairytale. If the princess-like attitudes and airs – “once a princess, always a princess” – bear the slightest bit resemblance to how today’s girls see and act on their reality, girls will find themselves shortchanged from early on by shallow dreams and unrealistic and inaccurate notions of how the world works. The challenge is to move forward, not to return to medieval times. This means getting rid of stereotypical and gender-based prescriptions of time passed and unrelentingly pushing new frontiers where those with grit and brains win out.
Happily ever afters don’t just happen. They are made. Intentionally. Step by step.