This is my official plug for the movie Girls Rock!. We took Si and Ry to see it on Saturday and Si keeps talking about the empowering messages......let me back up. I've been keeping my eye on Girls Rock Summer Camp in Portland, Oregon for a couple of years. As is the norm, it begins at 8 years old (as does BandWorks). I thought maybe we'd take a week's vacation in Portland one summer so she could do it. Well, they're expanding, and for the first year they're going to do it here. It's called Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and it's for one week in July at the Julia Morgan School for Girls (serendipitous for those of us interested in this school, no?). It's run by women involved with the Portland school, so hopefully the transition will be fairly seamless. Okay, back to the movie. It focuses attention on mostly 4 girls (two 8ish year olds, a 15ish year old and a 17ish I think year old). You can read the Common Sense Media review (be sure to watch the video review as well). They each need this camp for different reasons, but in the end it is because they need something......Si keeps commenting - "I can't believe that girl didn't like herself! Who doesn't like themselves? But by the end of camp she did! She learned to like herself through the music!" Are you ready for your 8 year old to see this? You should be. Research does show that girls' self-esteem begins to drop starting at 9. Yes that's right - 9! In grad school I did research and a proposal for a psychoeducational girl's group for 6th graders that I hope to implement this year. Why? Let's start with body image. The average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds. Most fashion models are thinner than 98 percent of American women. More than 50 percent of high school girls want smaller hips, thighs and/or waists. The media plays a huge role in shaping our standards of beauty. The models that are chosen by companies to sell their products help to frame those standards. Studies of prime-time television indicate that programs are dominated by thin body types and that thinness is consistently associated with the portrayal of favorable personality traits. There is a shift in focus from the pre-teen to teen years for girls; the body becomes an all consuming passion, project, and barometer of worth. Self-esteem becomes too closely paired to physical attributes. Oh, you say....but I live in the bay area.....my kids don't watch t.v. Okay - well do they interact with kids who do? Say, at gymnastics? Or swimming? Or soccer? Or singing class? Etc. etc. etc. Yeah, you can run, but you can't hide. So the faster we figure out how to empower our daughters, the stronger they'll be. And I've only touched on body image. What about brains? Between 5th and 9th grade, gifted girls, perceiving that smarts aren't sexy, hide their accomplishments. I'll make it easy on myself and give you the Julia Morgan link as to why it may be advantageous to go to a school for girls only. Biased, to be sure....but definitely based on a demonstrated, researched need for girls to have an alternative environment in order to help find their voice.
Sigh, all this for a movie review you say? Well, yes and no. All this from a woman who had to go back to graduate school and get a counseling degree with all the requisite child development and child psychology classes because when she had children they didn't come with a manual and she needed to figure out what to do with them. This is obviously my passion.....and not only am I going to promote these kinds of things to my personal friends, but to my school parents as well. It's that important. So in that vain, a few resources for you:
NYU Child Study Center – Self-Esteem
Enough for now. Si has sent in her application for summer camp so she'll be rockin' and rollin' this summer along with her brother who'll do another session of BandWorks.