Girls bully, too: A comment on princesses and how we treat women that “can”

Ok – just read this post by Peggy Orenstein. It’s not new, it was originally published in November. “princess” connection is fascinating to me. One of my daughters was very into princesses, etc. so to me its not the “evil” empire that some people feel that it is. But then when my daughter was invited to a princess party with other 6 year olds, she went as a pirate. Not a pirate princess, a pirate.  I guess I just had a different princess-parenting experience.I see the do-it-all-perfectly-and-effortlessly thing differently, I suppose. I don’t associate that with princesses at all. I associate it with the way women talk and the way they judge each other.

I think the limiting factor here is the very real possibility that you will be publicly shamed for leaving your house without perfect make-up, making the slightest mistake or showing any effort whatsoever.

Look at the number of articles related to Hilary Clinton’s hairstyle vs. Madeleine Albright! (FYI – 1.1 million in .25 seconds vs 180k in .53 seconds)

It is sad but true.

My 16 yo is presenting a seminar to teenagers this weekend at a local 4H leadership conference. The topic is bullying, with an emphasis on how to support the victim. She has done a lot of research to prepare and one of the stats she pulled was about the shocking percentages of girls that experience emotional bullying through negative comments DAILY. The comments might be about their hairstyle, their clothes, their grades, etc. but very often girls EXPECT to hear negative comments from their peers with any sort of achievement. In contrast, boys could expect bullying to be more physical and tended to be doled out to those who “can’t” rather than those that “can.” **

The message is clear – do well, girls, and there is an army waiting to tear you down.

This is what we have to fight, people.


Peggy Orenstein is an award-winning writer, editor and speaker about issues affecting girls and women.
** Please note – NEITHER form of bullying is ok. I bring it up because the contrast was interesting to me.

Making time to talk to my teenager

I was making dinner while Lizzi worked on a History Project at the dining room table. She had to work there because for some reason her teacher felt that in order to plan the next presentation, the group had to use a 4 foot square piece of butcher paper folded origami style into 24 sections. While I support his big picture thinking, it was an ungainly effort to make notes in the center boxes.

I had about 45 minutes from the moment we walked through the door from Lacrosse practice until we needed to head back out, pick up her friend and head to her 4H Camp Staff meeting. I started to make dinner and think about how to outline a new plan for a project at work. The timeline was tight and I needed to get back to my laptop.

As it turned out, Lizzi had something on her mind, too.

“I thought Pastor Dan had some interesting points in his sermon yesterday, but he got some things wrong, too,” she announced.

I looked up at her then back at the tomato I was dicing and asked in a non-committal voice, “Really, like what?”

“Well, like Heaven,” she replied. She then went into an overview of how she felt our pastor had included a few inconsistencies in his Easter message. She said that some people don’t believe in God because they just weren’t raised that way and maybe, he should have explained the whole you-should-have-a-relationship-with-Jesus-thing a bit differently to accommodate those different backgrounds.

“Insightful,” I replied. She is fifteen and learning to articulate big thoughts backed with reasoned, organized arguments.

I shared what I thought he meant, but mostly I asked questions. Questions that were open enough to make her think about what she believed. When she got stuck, I helped her. Filling in the blanks with my own experience and faith while sautéing the potatoes left over from Sunday’s dinner. She had some good points and I was glad to hear that she was not only listening, but processing what she heard. Of course, time seems to move more quickly in good conversations.

We were both feeling good about what was said when we noticed the time. I loaded her dinner into a plastic bowl and grabbed a fork.

Dinner in the car, again.

A few minutes late to the staff meeting, again.

But I would not have traded it for the world.

When my girls were little they needed me close by to kiss the boo boos, tickle their toes and tuck them into bed at night. Those days are behind us, but they have been replaced with something much bigger. Not better, exactly, but different and wonderful.

My girls still need me – my thoughts, opinions and insights into the world. They need my perspective on why boys do dumb things and why girls can be nice one minute but achingly cruel the next. They need to know where I stand on the issues and that it is ok for them to form their own opinions.

I never know what topic will follow, “Mom, can we talk?” but I am  certain that whatever else is on the schedule can wait.

Originally posted on  on April 26, 2011.

Smoothies for Dinner

Yesterday was the kick off for spring-time Tuesday craziness.  Volleyball practice and Fencing lessons overlap with each other and any semblance of dinner preparation.  As it also happened to be the hottest day of the year (so far) we were all about 20 degrees above normal by the time we were in the car heading home — did I mention it was about 7:45 pm at this point?

Anyway, when Becca suggested Smoothies for dinner I jumped on it!  They were perfect for cooling us down without being too heavy right before bed.

Dinner Smoothies
2 containers soy yogurt
2 banannas
2-3 cups frozen berries
cranberry juice and soy milk (start with about 1.5 cups in the blender)