Day 208: International Women’s Day

Today’s inane image of the day:

This year’s theme: Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures

I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across this, but I saw it and thought it would be interesting to try something new. Gender Across Borders and CARE are hosting this online event — I encourage you to check out their websites.

Anyway, the question I’ll be musing over is: How can we, as a culture and as members of the global community, involve, educate, and inspire girls in a positive way?

Here are a couple of my [rather jumbled] thoughts:

I attribute much of my success to always having strong role models and mentors to look up to — my parents, teachers and professors have all contributed tremendously. Thus, I believe that by connecting young women at an early age to an invested mentor, we can make a positive impact on young women. Furthermore, I think it’s imperative that we expose girls at an early age to women who are successful in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] fields — I have written before about how few women pursue science-based careers and I will say it again: it’s maddening that there are so few women in science. Anyway, I digress.

A huge issue that young women face is that of body image. We all went through it at some point in our lives and many women still struggle with it today. I personally remember how tough it was to be a pre-teen or teenager at the mall — left and right there are images of women who have been airbrushed and cropped to a size that is either underweight or right on the bottom border of a healthy BMI. Or even just watching television — everyone always looks glamorous with perfect make-up and exotic hair styles! How can we try to address this? Well, how about by reinforcing what healthy really means (eating right, staying physically fit) and discussing how beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Maybe by having these dialogues early on, we can veer young women away from eating disorders and other damaging behaviors.

I also believe that acceptance is key — exposing young women to non-judgmental individuals allows them to grow and discover things they are passionate about. When I’m expressing my thoughts to someone, I am always searching for a reaction, and if my words are met with a disgusted or disappointed expression, I tend to take it personally. When I was younger, many of my actions were directed by these responses, which leads me to believe that it’s vital for girls to be surrounded by other open-minded individuals that can guide them.

Ultimately, girls need supportive, devoted mentors that are invested in their success and that’s where we fit in as members of the global community. All it takes is a couple hours a week to connect with  a young woman — in the end this small investment will probably make a huge positive impact on her future.

2 thoughts on “Day 208: International Women’s Day

  • March 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    “discussing how beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – yes, but that’s frequently viewed as a clear-cut cop-out and I haven’t really seen it work that well. One line of reasoning that may be helpful is, “it’s these people’s job to look like that – do you really expect to be able to look just like that without it being your full-time job?”. And of course most people could be much more attractive if they actually worked out somewhat strenuously on a regular basis.

    “exposing young women to non-judgmental individuals” — judgments are always made if any action is taken; brains are based on heuristics and pattern recognition. I would rather advocate effort towards objective discussion rather than simply the ignoring of facts that is “not being judgmental”. IMO that should be phrased to avoid “premature judgment”, etc.

    In general, I would agree very strongly with the message here, but I don’t think that telling people to ignore reality will do better than slowly discussing how and why to accept it.

  • March 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    @Anon: You offer very valid points — can’t say I disagree with any of them. I guess I might not have been very clear on the discussion portion — I do not advocate for ignoring issues, but I think that discussion is best when it first is between someone you know and trust (i.e. a strong female mentor) so that ideas can be freely expressed and flushed out.

    Thank you for sharing!

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