So my 12 year old female cousin told me that laser was the best way to go about hair removal and it freaked me out. I walked into a conversation between her, her 8 year old younger sister and her mom casually talking about unwanted hair. I was shocked that this was even a topic of conversation let alone the fact that the girls seemed to be so well versed in this area. The 8 year old is apparently so embarrassed of her legs that she won’t wear shorts even with the 70+ weather Charlotte’s been having this week. When I tell her it doesn’t matter how her legs look she immediately gets embarrassed and covers her legs. The 12 year old told me a girl in her class pointed at her arms and said “ew”. It took me a while to wrap my head around insecurity at such a young age.
Of course my reaction was extremely relative to my personal experience of growing pretty ignorant of how my body looked. I arrived pretty late to the game of dress up, and didn’t really start wearing eyeliner till i was around 16 years old, much later than many of my friends. I remember having to be literally convinced by my friends that getting your eyebrows done isn’t the worst thing in the world and it was one of my best friends who bought me my first blush when I was 16, shocked that I didn’t own any.
But my real concern with this situation is that the double standard of expectations seems to be starting at such a young age. My cousins are ambitious kids who each play instruments and are a part of several extra curricular activities. I’m sure their male counterparts are as involved as they are but I doubt they are worried about how their legs look especially at ages as young as 8 years old. Given the fact that we live in a world where being embarrassed of your body starts so early, we most definitely need campaigns like #banbossy.
— Teach For America (@TeachForAmerica)March 10, 2014
I’ve read Lean In and recently noticed the #banbossy campaign, and was bit skeptical of the overly simplified line for a pretty complex problem. But the catchy campaign seems to be targeted towards younger girls and although I believe women and girls should embrace being the “boss”, the concept behind the campaign is something we need to definitely get behind.
Spring break with my cousins has also meant a lot of kids’ shows. For example, watching Phineas and Ferb for an entire week has brought up a whole host of issues in my mind. Next time, let’s focus on the fact that most cartoons and kid’s shows always show the older sister or a girl completely obsessed with a boy or fighting over a boy whereas the boys in the show are busy inventing or discovering things. Dexter’s Labratory had the same story line when I was growing up. The quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Beyonce’s song “Flawless” applies here:
When I look at the #banbossy campaign I look at it as a way to tackle one unacceptable expectation of young girls on top of everything else in an increasingly competitive world.