I learned something today. I don’t want to look like Barbie. Not even a little tiny bit. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure I’d be sick, unhealthy and miserable if I did look like Barbie. As I did my research, I learned that due to her proportions, she wouldn’t be able to reproduce, could never shop at a regular retail store, and possibly most frightening - Barbie would have to walk around on all fours if she was a life-sized woman. Pretty hard to drive a sweet pink convertible when you can’t sit up, right?
Why am I talking about this, you ask? Over the past couple of weeks Boston GLOW’s dedicated Organized Women volunteers, led by the fearless author of Scarlet, AC Gaughen, have been delving into the roles of women and girls in Boston through our Write Outloud Workshop Series.
As we continue these conversations, we here at GLOW have decided that we must take some time to address the issues facing the young women in our community and share resources. As it is our goal to ensure that all voices are heard, we certainly don’t want to leave the voices to the workshops – we want to share them – with the internet! Therefore, while Jenna with B*tch on Mondays, we will take a few minutes mid-week to further explore some of these issues.
So. Back to Barbie. Last Saturday, one brave young woman ventured her opinion:
“sometimes I think it’s just that girls think it’s more important to be pretty than to be smart”.
It’s not that surprising that we think this way. After all, it was Teen Talk Barbie who told us in 1992, “Math Class is tough”. She wasn’t the only one sending this message-
Remember these t-shirts?:
The message retailers are sending young women are that you can’t be pretty and do math. If you are pretty (which everyone is!) then you don’t have to do math. Here’s the reality though. We can sit here aghast. We can complain and get angry. Or we can take action! Personally, my favorite part of the Write Out-loud Workshop Series is not complaining. My favorite part is IGNITing CHANGE. As we passed around images of these shirts, there was a constant buzz in the room. Plans developed to make positive apparel for young women. Workshop participants ventured, “what if girls and women wore shirts that said, ‘I’m great at math’?” Another explained, “let’s show the positive role models and bring women into schools to teach boys and girls about equality.”
In conclusion, certainly we can talk about what’s wrong with Barbie and these t-shirts. We can postulate for hours, gripe and complain about the message we are sending to young women. Or, we can change it. Because in reality, I’m sure Hilary Clinton has to do math as Secretary of State, Lady Gaga doesn’t rely on her brother to calculate her record sales, and that we can all count to 3 to know that it was 3 WOMEN who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. So, yeah, sorry Barbie but Boston GLOW is changing what we talk about.