FROM THE DESK OF: Nina
I’ve been thinking a lot about generations lately. GI, Silent, Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, iGen… each group distinguishes itself by very different, and often conflicting, characteristics. But no matter the time period, one theme seems to repeat itself, time and time again: this idea that the generation to follow one’s own is spoiled, crazy, and downright doomed.
I have to admit: I am pretty creeped out by the generation that follows mine. Granted, I realize how crazy Millennials like myself must sound to people born in different times (“What do you mean you want to do what you love for a living, but expect to get paid bank for that with no experience straight out of college…”), but hey – those iGen kids? The ones who were born and raised in the age of Instagram, Snapchat, cyberbullying, and a whole lot of junk on the Interwebz perpetuating this idea that self-branding and curation of your life story is a completely normal thing? Terrifying. I can’t imagine what it must be like for these kids to be born into this mirror-filled society, in which everything that surrounds you is pretty much a chance for you to take a look at yourself and measure your worth based on how you project yourself to the world. I can’t imagine how these iGen minds work.
And what about the young girls who have to grow up in this kind of environment? How are we supposed to encourage our girls to find their voices and build confidence when we live in a world where self-image is everything? These are things I worry about, and sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible for girls to feel empowered today. Dramatic, but hey – those thoughts really do cross my mind sometimes.
But then, every so often, I’ll come across a young woman who is brave, honest, and just so incredibly boss at being a strong-minded individual… and I see a shining glimmer of hope for the future.
Here are some cool chicks who inspire me to be a better person – and give me hope that more young girls will follow in their footsteps to becoming some BAMF boss ladies.
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. The women who created and contribute to this site are onto something. This is such a fun site with good reads and great YouTube shows. Founded by comedian Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls focuses on delivering stories that encourage young people to be curious, imaginative, and their own goofy selves. It’s breath of fresh air amidst all of the “he said, she said” (read: gossip) blogs out there.
Pretty Much All of the Rejected Princesses. Now, don’t get me wrong – I do love me some good Disney movies. But what about all of those untold stories of super-strong heroines? This site pretty much fills that void, highlighting some preeeeettyyy BAMF women throughout history who DGAF‘ed their way past societal norms and weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty/get s*!+ done. (This site is also going to be made into a book, which I will most definitely be acquiring and saving for my future daughter/son/nieces/nephews/etc.)
The Stanford Survivor.* This woman demonstrates modern-day bravery in a world in which we’re still learning how to let women’s voices be actually heard. After being sexually attacked on a college campus, this young woman faced and addressed her assailant directly; elected to relive her attack through the grueling trial process; and fought for justice on behalf of girls everywhere by taking a path paved by unfathomable, agonizing vulnerability. That to me is a living, breathing example of incredible courage and selflessness beyond measure. If you haven’t read her story, you can click on the hyperlink* above. Reading it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach every time, but her ability to confront her fears and pain in the hope that others will be inspired to stand up for themselves never ceases to humble and amaze me. *Note: This link leads to the letter the Stanford Survivor wrote to her rapist. While an important read, I should mention that it contains graphic details, and may be too intense for younger readers.
Malala Yousafzai. The youngest Nobel Prize laureate ever, Malala Yousafzai is a fierce advocate for female education and human rights – and doesn’t let the threat of death get in the way of her efforts. This girl straight up looked Death in the eye and said, “Pfft, you’re scary-looking, but I bet I know what scares you more.” And scare she did: at the age of 12, Malala began to speak out about education rights in Pakistan as a contributor for BBC Urdu, and at 15, she was shot in the face three times by a gunman for the Taliban for her gallant outspokenness. Malala recovered from the attack, continued to speak out against the denial of education for girls, and paved the way for education reform not just in her native Pakistan, but across the globe as well. She recognized, and continues to recognize, that fighting for what she believed in – the right to education for all people – was more important than her fear of death. I can only hope that other girls and I will channel that sense of conviction in all aspects of our daily lives.