What does it mean to be a girl?
What does it mean to you to be a “girl?” Does it require strength or compassion? Kindness? Intelligence? Why not all the
above? If you need some help answering this question, check out this fun book (this hyperlink opens The Gender Book) that showcases the diversity of gender and is celebratory and affirming of the LGBTQ+ community. The Gender Book is free to download, but they take donations.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is often an insult to do something “like a girl.” This comes from stereotypes, or widely held assumptions about particular people and things, about who girls are and how they should act. We will look further into this phenomenon during our video discussion later.
Some people may want you to believe that simply because you’re a girl, you must be the idea of beauty that is trendy that week, you can’t possibly be good at sports, and you have to care about someday becoming a wife and mother above everything else. Those people are lying.
In the activity for this lesson, Girl Power Crafting Hour, I want you to think about what girlhood means to you by drawing photographs of what your culture says it means to be a girl and what you think it means to be a girl. Those pictures may be the same or they may be different. Here is a sneak peak of what I created, proudly displayed in my living room:
In some cultures around the world, girls must risk their lives to gain access to an education, while young boys never have to question if they’ll go to school. Those cultures see girlhood as less important than boyhood. As a result, nearly two thirds of women in the world are illiterate.
Additionally, more than 17 million girls have been displaced amid the global refugee crisis. The free short film Brave Girl Rising follows the life of one young woman living in a refugee camp. Because of their personal lived experiences, the girls in this movie may have a widely different idea of what girlhood means to them. To learn more about what it’s like to be a young girl and an immigrant, check out this reading list.
Personally, I’ve learned from my friends and family as well as through popular culture that part of being a girl means being a strong advocate. It means being someone who stands up not only for themselves, but for others as well. Embodying this idea are people like Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activist and the 2019 TIME magazine person of the year; Mari Copeny, otherwise known as Little Miss Flint, who has been urging politicians to fix the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, since she was 8; and Sarah Rose Huckman, who lobbied to extend nondiscrimination protections to transgender people in New Hampshire while she was in high school.
Your definition of girlhood may not match mine, and that’s okay. It may not match the definitions of your family or your friends either. What is important is that your definition of girlhood is your own. It shouldn’t be constructed by what people want you to believe being a girl should mean, you must think for yourself above all. To help you come up with your own definition of girlhood, which you can then use in our crafting adventure, I want you to investigate the following: create, listen, and learn activities!
Grab your mobile device and click this link to create your own empowering “This Girl Can” poster. Check out the one I made below!
This one is for my fellow podcast-lovers. Listen to this podcast from Critical Feminist Conversations where Lisa Corrigan and Laura Weiderhaft talk about their own experiences with girlhood.
Throughout your life, you will likely see injustice in the world. Right now, that injustice might live in your school, your community and maybe even in your relationships. The Spark Movement is here to help. They have compiled resources, advice and opportunities to help you become a better activist here on their website.
Watch, Learn, Discuss!
Watch this Nike Ad, “What will they say about you?” (also embedded below) and reflect with those around you.
Keep these questions in mind as you watch the video and try to answer them together after you’ve finished.
- Question 1: What are some stereotypes that you have heard about girls? Are they true?
- Question 2: Can you recall an instance where you were underestimated because of your girlhood? How did that feel?
- Question 3: What can you say in response to someone who tries to disrespect girls? How can you support other girls as we break stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a girl?
For Your Listening Pleasure: A Playlist!
I have created a YouTube playlist for you to listen to while you create the Girl Power Craft Hour for this week. You can look forward to new playlist with each module! I hope you enjoy it so much that you listen to it beyond just our Craft Hour this week!
Girl Power Crafting Hour
We want you to teach us about what the culture of girlhood is by using imagery. Draw photographs of what your culture says it means to be a girl AND what you think it means to be a girl. Would the picture for those questions be the same or different? These could be sketches of your room, of items at the store, but something that signifies for you the answers to these questions. Post it in a place you can look every day.
- Materials list:
- Paper, canvas, or anything else you can draw on.
- Writing utensils such as pencils, markers, paint, and colored pencils.
- Get creative! Find things around your house you can use to make your masterpiece. This could be cutouts from magazines, glitter, even uncooked macaroni noodles.
Watch this video to see my friends and I participate in the Girl-Power Crafting Hour!
Thank you for joining us for this amazing hour together! I cannot wait for you to visit us again next time. Remember, you are amazing!