Thursday, June 16, 2011

Girls Will Still Be Girls

The other day on my classroom’s interactive white board I wrote: "What are your interests? What are you hobbies?" I wanted to buy my students magazines to read when they finish their two-hour finals. (They have to stay in the classroom for the full two hours, even if they finish early. They can't use their iPods or cell phones. )

In their answers, the gender lines could not be clearer.  The boys said their interests include dirt biking, electric guitars, hunting, go-karts, video games, astronomy, the New York Giants and soccer. And girls.

The girls' interest? Fashion.

Yesterday afternoon, I walked out of Barnes & Noble and into the humid late-spring air with a bag full of magazines: among them, Smithsonian Air & Space, MLB Preview and Teen Vogue and People Style Watch. I couldn't bear to buy the regular People magazine the girls asked for. Except for articles about President Obama's fathering and the Royal Wedding, the issue is full of articles about men betraying women.

I didn’t know then - and I still don't now - whether to be sad or sympathetic that the girls’ interests appear so limited. I was a girl once. My dreams were not deep. As a teen, I spent hours trying out different shampoos and various combinations of lemon juice and olive oil treatments so my long hair would shine just so. I pored over Vogue and Glamour magazines, believing more with every turn of the page that my slender body was fat. I talked to girlfriends about crash diets and tried them all.I’m not that girl any more. I’ve never been that kind of woman, either.

And now I am wondering: when and how did I start to consider the world a place in which I might participate instead of just decorate?


  1. I think this is part and parcel of all girl teens to go through in this world we live in (unless they live a very sheltered life or have some super hero parents- to which I say- lucky them!). I grew out of this stage- you grew out of this stage and I am looking forward to the day my sisters grow out of this stage.

    And I'd bet that there were some other interests for girls that they would have shared had their self esteems been larger than the size of a pea (another thing teen girls grow out of).

    One of the best things that helped me at this age, was having a mentor. She was someone to which I poured out my life's troubles and joys. she listened most of all, then offered a few bits of well needed advice. I'm trying to be that person to my sisters and any young girls I encounter.

    God Bless!

  2. Sarah: You are closer to your teen years and your growing-out-of-teen years than I am. By a longshot. So I really appreciate your insights.

    Yes, a mentor really helps. I was blessed with two in hs - a local mom and my English teacher. The first taught me to sew and bake bread and both women encouraged my writing! God sends such wonderful people our way sometimes.

    How wonderful you can serve this role to your sisters and others.

  3. I'm way past my teen years, 53! But I have the same recollection - shampoo and my frizzy hair, how to fit into the Landlubber hip-hugger jeans, and things along those lines.

    I see my 14 (15 in 2 weeks) year old stepdaughter reading those magazines now.


    Thanks Allison.