Friday, January 28, 2011

Little girls and role models

As a kid, I watched a lot of TV. At first, there was Power Rangers, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, All That, The Amanda Show, As Told By Ginger, Rugrats, and, of course, Pokemon; later on came Kim Possible, Totally Spies, Phil of the Future, Even Stevens, and The Brothers Garcia.

For the most part of my childhood, however, a lot of my attention was invested in Pokemon. My sister and I, we had the cards, a playing mat for the cards, tons of figurines, little plastic Happy Meal toys, plushies, and a guidebook on all the pre-Johto Pokemon -- mostly courtesy of our overindulgent father. Of course, we religiously watched the show every week 8.30 p.m. every Saturday. My favourite Pokemon ever was -- and still is -- Pikachu, and I pretty much wanted to be Ash Ketchum, who is, well, a guy. (Who wouldn't want to be the owner of the cutest Pokemon ever, going around and trying to 'Catch 'Em All'?)

I don't remember actually ever having a female role model when I was a kid -- not even Kim Possible or Hermione from Harry Potter. Well, maybe my mom, a little bit, but pretty much every girl goes through that (and most are smart enough to snap out of it!). So when I read Kira Cochrane's article that was published in the StarTwo yesterday, I was a bit perplexed to read that little girls these days do have/need female role models...and some of them are looking to women like Paris Hilton.

To be fair, I wasn't exactly the epitome of a little girly girl when I was a kid -- for a very long time, I liked what were considered 'guy' things. I refused to wear dresses, I despised anything pink, and I opted for the Hotwheels toys instead of the little Polly dolls with my Happy Meals; indeed, I have never owned a doll in my life. (This stage, however, only started after a period of excessive girliness before I was too young to know any better. My mother in particular loved dressing my sister and me up in prissy little dresses with tiny socks and shoes with buckles. I was a horribly girly girl in kindergarten, and that, admittedly, was by my own choice. I like to think my tomboy years were my way of rebelling.)

Anyway. I am of the opinion that Paris Hilton isn't exactly the best woman to look up to and want to be when you're a kid. It's an opinion Abi Moore and her sister Emma subscribe to as well, and so, Pinkstinks was born.

The idea of Pinkstinks isn't, you know, against Pink, the singer (who I imagine would be a pretty awesome role model -- in fact, she's listed as one of the role models on the site!). Here's an excerpt from their sidebar:

Our aim is to

    * Inspire, motivate and enthuse girls about the possibilities and opportunities open to them
    * Improve girls’ self esteem and confidence, raise their ambitions and ultimately improve their life chances
    * To challenge  the 'culture of pink' which is based on beauty over brains and to provide an alternative

I love the idea; kid me would've been completely adoring of it. My parents were open-minded enough to be okay with my tomboyishness, but it did cause some consternation among some relatives. I remember my aunty telling me in a McDonald's, "No, you're a girl, ah! You're supposed to take the doll, not the car! See? Polly!" She shook the little doll in my face and I nearly threw a tantrum; I was a girl, but I wanted the car! Why was I supposed to have the doll? Why did people always assume I would choose pink anything if I were given the option? Why did people regard me with something close to pity upon finding out I didn't have a Barbie?

(From Queercents.)

Because I was a girl. If it weren't for the shelter my parents provided, I would've been a pretty pissed-off little kid.

I think this website and these people are pretty darn awesome for bucking the stereotype. You don't have to like pink and glitter and sparkles and all that if you're a girl, and it's important for the littler ones to know that. You don't have to be pressured into wearing and doing and pretending to like things you just don't like at all. And, you know, dressing in articles that were made to be held up by boobs isn't acceptable at the age of eight, when you have none.

Not the best example, but I was semi-horrified by the girl in the center.
(From Tammy's Twitpic.)

My question, though, is why female role models? Does gender really matter in a role model? For a long while, my role model was Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance; he'd been depressed, a druggie, and a drunk, but had managed to overcome it all and front a world-famous rock band. But then again, I was old enough to admire people for their strength and traits rather than just wanting someone to model my fashion sense after.

In some ways, he's still my hero.
(From Mp3 Python.)

If that's the case, though, Pinkstinks might not do as well as I hope it will, since most of the female role models they named aren't very, you know, well-known. I-look-up-to-Lady-Gaga girl is going to laugh at I-look-up-to-Janine-Benyus girl for sure. (Yeah, I didn't know who she was either. She's listed here on Pinkstinks.) Houston, we have a problem.

The solution?

The world needs more Pink.

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