Picking up from yesterday –
So, I’m talking to all these different kids in different groups.
Once girl really stood out to me who seemed not as impatient, really together, and she was wearing a science shirt! I talked to her a little about her science ambitions. And I just thought, “look at this awesome girl with this confidence, and this drive to pursue athletics and science. I really hope our media and culture doesn’t ruin her and that she keeps this confidence forever…”
BUT! Guess who else is the problem (besides “media” and “our culture”)? That would be me! That’s right. I said me. *shakes head at self*
When it was time to have the kids go past me to the start line, I’d give high-fives and say encouraging things about how I hope they’re so proud of themselves, and I’d congratulate them on their amazing accomplishment…
But sometimes I also said things like, “I love your skirt!” “Your hair looks so cute!” etc.
And guess who got most of those comments that make it seems like image matters? Yep. That’d be the ladies, not the fellas.
Of course, my reasoning for this wasn’t because I thought it was important that girls look cute for running events… it was because the girls wore interesting, frilly, colorful, different running outfits! And the boys seemed to be in plain stuff.
BUT… did the girls worry about it because they felt they needed to? Quite possibly. And I’m SO sad that I maybe helped fuel that a little… I’ll admit even as a grown woman, I often don’t pick my running outfits based on comfort, but instead on how I’ll look in them. This whole, “I gotta be cute” thing – even when running a freaking marathon, it’s part of me that’s not going away anytime soon.
…However, when I see it in other younger girls, it makes me sad. I know that dichotomy doesn’t make sense. But what does make sense is empowering women. (I read Lean In! ;))
I know it’s important to complement children on their work ethic instead of their image (or their intrinsic abilities, since it’s been shown in studies that if you tell a child they’re smart, they’re less likely to push themselves on hard problems for fear of no longer being smart (if they were to mess anything up). If you tell them they’re a great worker, they work even harder to keep that compliment coming… Or at least that’s my understanding.)
I’m going off on a tangent, but the point is, I didn’t realize ’til I got home that I gave too many image-based compliments. It doesn’t matter if someone’s hair looked cool. There is no need at all for me to mention it (even if I had good intentions of making people feel good) when there’s plenty of other stuff to mention – such as her awesome accomplishment that we’re there celebrating!
Aye, aye, aye. *continues to shake head at self*
And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.