Parent, Teacher, Activist
“This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.”
I love this quote from Jada Pinkett Smith about her daughter Willows appearance. What I find especially important to think about is the focus upon the young girl’s agency. Agency is viewing oneself as an active participant in one’s own life, taking responsibility for one’s decisions and feeling the power to act to achieve one’s own goals and desires.
In this previous post, I talk about the difference between agency and the common media message to girls and women that they are and should be objects. Objectification is about learning to see oneself primarily as the object of someone else’s desire. When the media constantly presents girls with the idea that they’re value comes from being the object of other people’s desires, girls will begin to develop their identities based upon this social pressure.
It’s vital that we as adults challenge the objectification of girls, and one key way to do that is to allow girls to see themselves as the owners of their own selves. They are their own domain. What do you see as some ways that adults can work to help the girls in their lives develop agency? I’ll share some of my own later in the week.