Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures…

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My blonde little swedish sobrina (niece) told me about a year ago, when she had just turned 4, that she wanted to have yellow (blonder) hair – like the princesses in the story books. I asked her why, she said it was prettier…

plan international

Another little sobrina, in the Dominican Republic and also 4 years old, complained about her skin getting too dark in the sun. I asked her why she worried about that, she said lighter skin was prettier…

I can’t remember having similar discussions with my 12 years younger brother when he was their age. The only time his looks ever came up was when he wanted me to comb his hair like Superman (with the little curl hanging down his forehead).

At their age, should they be so concerned about their appearance? Or at any age, for that matter. Clearly, no matter how girls look, they never seem to look good enough. From the colour of our hair, to the shape of our bodies, to the color of our skin – there always seems to be something that we could change for the better. And what scares me the most is that the importance of their looks start at such a young age. How can we change this? How can we inspire the girls around us?

We keep talking about how far we’ve come, how good girls have it today – and yes, things have definitely improved (in some parts of the world) – but girls are still being discriminated against for being girls. From beauty and body issues to being denied an education and forced into marriage when they are still children.

credit: Stockbyte

There are great organizations that we can support, like Plan International and their Because I am a Girl-campaign. But there must also be things that we can do to encourage and inspire the girls we have around us. Because even if the girls close to you don’t have to face the horrible future of being a child bride, she still has issues to face simply because she is a girl. If we, the adults around them, would make an effort to appreciate them for other qualities, read them books about girls who are smart, brave and good friends, instead of simply beautiful and in need of a prince charming – could we make a difference then? If we took the time to spend some real time with them, go to museums, talk to them about things that really matter, things they enjoy that aren’t directly connected to beauty – could we make a difference then?

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