Empowering Girls to Fly High

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pink, Pretty and Princess: It is not Nature its Corporate Nurture

The commercialization of childhood is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide; little girls still in nappies are already being bombarded with toxic messages from media, marketing and even toys.

Society reinforces these messages, as if pink, pretty and princess where genetically imprinted in every girl child. What is wrong with a cute four year old “princess”, playing dress up, wearing a beautiful pink frilly dress, pretty jewelry and glowing from a little touch of sparkle on her rosy cheeks?  Nothing, there is nothing wrong with that if it wasn’t for the fact that there is an entire corporate machine ensuring that is all they have access to, that is all they can aspire to be.

Pink

In the mid 80s, as parents started discovering the gender of their baby through the rise of prenatal testing, marketeers found a new way to increase sales by segmenting the market. Gender neutral disappeared and we witnessed the birth of a new meme: pink equals girl and blue equals boy. From that point in time girls’ choices were forever reduced to a sea of superficiality.

Today in the pink isles of a toy store you will find makeup, jewellery, nail polish, frilly dresses, sparkly high heeled shoes, princesses, dolls with impossible waist lines and very little else. Items that drive one single message; that her value comes from her looks.

Science kits, games and building blocks rarely have a girl showcased on the product packaging and are nowhere to be found in the sea of pink that are the “girl” sections of the stores. The rare exception is likely to be simplified and beautified beyond recognition.

Pretty

Who benefits from making little girls obsess with their looks? The multibillion-dollar beauty and diet industry does.

What is their strategy? Get them young, objectify them, and sexualise them. Make them believe that they are what they own and how they look. Make sure that they know that their value is strictly dependent on external approval. Peddle unattainable ideals of beauty to ensure they are forever hooked, addicted to a never-ending cycle of consumerism as they try to look like the photoshopped girl in the magazine or the doll with the pin sized waistline.

The impact is significant; eating disorders are increasing all over the world and impacting girls that are still in pre-school. High profile institutions are also very concerned with the effects of the rising sexualisation, some of the most recent activity coming from the American Psychological Association, the Australian Medical Association and the UK Government.

What is the price of sexualisation? Lets first define it:

“Sexualization is not about healthy sexual development. All people are sexual beings, and have desires and thoughts that are a natural part of development. Sexualization is treating other people and oneself as an object of desire, with their value primarily from sex appeal and physical attractiveness. When someone is repeatedly sexualized, they begin to think of and treat their own body as an object of other people's desires. We call this self-objectification.” Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

The price is paid by young girls as they enter their teen years. Pressured to follow the values and behaviors of celebrities like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, discarding professions that do not fit in with the stereotype, abandoning influential futures in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), showing lack of interest for leadership roles.

Princess

To date many of the princess characters have been portrayed as passive, compliant, in need of rescue and obsessed with external beauty. There is a glimmer of hope that the industry is starting to redefine this archetype. Perhaps Brave will forever redefine what it means to be a princess. We cannot afford another generation of women to be held back by stereotypes that weaken their ability to speak up, to assert their opinions and to acknowledge their value.

According to Peggy Orenstein the “Princess Industrial Complex” arrived in 2000 with the advent of the Disney Princess line. They earned $300 million the first year and $4 billion in the second year and by then there were 26,000 Disney Princess products. The choices are gone and little girls are peddled a combination of compliance, consumption and approval.

Pink, Pretty and Princess: It is not Nature it is Corporate Nurture

Every year corporations perform market research to determine what is popular for their target consumer segment. When anyone complains about the limited choices they market to girls, large corporate engines hide behind the research claiming that they are just responding to market demand. Do we really expect girls to come up with any other answer than pink, pretty and princess, after being peddled the same mind-numbing propaganda from the day they were born? It is a self-fulfilling prophecy! Corporations use the excuse that they know what girls want based on the stereotypes they have been promoting ruthlessly, using every single trick in the book.

Unplugging from the Corporate Matrix

As parents become more aware of the impact of toxic messages on their children’s future, they try to find alternatives, they look for ways to guide their daughters and provide them with empowering values. It is a very hard task, even if they manage to create an empowering environment at home, they have to deal with peer pressure at preschool, gifts from misguided friends and the fears of exclusion from social groups for themselves and their children.

The Rise of Pro-Girl

Some parenting and girl empowerment groups both online and offline are a safe haven where parents exchange advice, express their frustrations and share information in regards to books, media, toys and apparel that counter stereotypes or that are gender neutral. These communities are growing in number and strength and have also been able to influence corporations through the power of activism enabled by social media. Successful campaigns focused on Lego, JC Penney, Hamleys or Diva are good examples of the western world’s backlash against the sexualisation and stereotyping of girlhood. These communities are highly networked globally and can quickly self organise in defence of healthy girlhood.

Small values-driven businesses are also emerging focusing on apparel, toys, books and other media that counter stereotypes. But can small businesses really take on the corporate giants? It is hard, these businesses are typically ran by mumpreneurs, many rely mostly on word of mouth and online marketing, have limited investment capacity and spend most of their time driving literacy and awareness with parents and educators within their reach.

Our solution

A coalition of all pro-girl businesses from around the world, a values driven online marketplace similar to etsy.com but focused on products for girls. A way to unleash the passion of many into one single global brand, the combined power of the global pro-girl community creating a real alternative to the “Pink, Pretty and Princess Industrial Complex”. Taking back girlhood, showcasing that girls are strong, daring, intelligent, adventurous, athletic, outspoken, leaders and fun.

We already have the support of many Pro-Girl experts, not for profits and businesses, what we need now is the support of the general public. We need to prove that parents and educators care and are behind this project. Support the movement: AChainOfGirlGoodness.com

Inês Almeida
Chief Super Hero Wannabe @ A Chain of Girl Goodness and @7Wonderlicious

Inês recently resigned from her highflying role as an executive in a Global IT Consulting Firm to focus full time on this project: A Chain of Girl Goodness. She has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science and her experience includes business strategy, marketing, product design and development where Software is the enabler, leadership, organisational design, and change management. She is also the founder of 7Wonderlicious a parenting community and social business focused on overturning the gender stereotypes that limit our girls ' true nature and potential.





Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dolls that inspires her to be active and sporty!!!


I believe that when good people come together they can drive real change in the world. I am truly humbled by the support and generosity of all our partners in crime from all corners of the world. I could not have chosen to be in better company, these amazing sheheroes inspire me everyday.

Over the next seven weeks you will have the opportunity to win some amazing prizes. Items that were donated by our awesome partners as a gesture of support for the Chain of Girl Goodness. Businesses, not for profits and experts all connected by one single goal, to make the world a better place for women and girls.

I am delighted to introduce to you our first Shehero and her amazing giveaway.


 Jodi Norgaard created Go! Go! Sports Girls™ Dolls as a fun and educational way to promote self-appreciation and the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and sleeping habits, self-esteem and overall healthy life-skills for girls ages 3-12.

Jodi created these dolls by working very closely with her expert consultant, her daughter that was 10 years old at the time.

Go! Go! Sports Girls™ are age and size appropriate. The image is innocent with a subtle yet strong message - appreciate and be true to yourself!

Jodi and her business the Dream Big Toy Company™ demonstrate that you can be successful without putting profit ahead of values, better yet, you can be in the business of inspiring healthy options and driving positive change in the world.

Jodi kindly donated three of her dolls in support of a Chain of Girl Goodness. If you are a blogger or own a website you have the chance to win one of the dolls.

Here are the detailed instructions on how to enter the competition:

1) add our Indiegogo donation widget to your blog or website by copying the html code bellow:

<iframe src="http://www.indiegogo.com/project/widget/78450" width="224px" height="429px" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

The widget will look exactly like the one at the top right corner of our blog page. You will need to keep the widget on the site until the end of our crowdfunding campaign (22nd May).

2) add a comment at the end of this blog post with the url of your blog or website.

3) the contest winner will be announced at the end of our crowdfunding campaign (22nd May).

Don't Worry! if you do not have a blog or a website you will have other opportunities to win a Go! Go! Sports Girls™ Doll. This is just the beginning!

IMPORTANT! I want to create a values driven market place, a market place where, in one single place, you can easily reach amazing businesses that care about the future of our girls. Please do help by donating to our crowdfunding campaign, I will not be able to move forward with this project if we don't demonstrate that there are enough people out there that support it.



Love,


Have you heard the news? SheHeroes  and  New Moon Girls have launched a fabulous contest! They want you to help tell the Secrets of SheHeroes around the globe.

This contest is open to all girls under 18. You don’t have to be a member of NewMoonGirls to enter.

Deadline for all entries is April 30, 9pm, central daylight time. You can enter in two ways:
  1. Make a short video interview of a SheHero in your community – see details below.
  2. Watch the videos of women that are already posted at SheHeroes.org and make a short response video – see details below.
All entered videos will be posted on both the New Moon Girls & SheHeroes YouTube channels starting on May 20, 2012.

An international panel of girls and women will choose winning videos in 3 age groups. All the winners will be featured on both New Moon Girls and SheHeroes starting May 20! All winning video makers will receive special prizes.

Entry Guidelines for SheHero Video Response

Check out the amazing women already posted on the SheHeroes website. Make a video of yourself telling us what you think of a SheHero’s video and how it inspired you.

Entry Guidelines for Making Your Own SheHero Video

Find a woman in your life, school or community and on video ask her:

  • What did you like to do or study as a kid?
  • What challenges have you faced in your life?
  • What inspired you to become the person that you are today?
  • Why did you choose your path or career?
  • Ask her anything else you’d like to know about her.

All videos must be shorter than 3 minutes. Upload your video at:

You can enter as many videos as you want to before the deadline.

Girl Power!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I am giving away all 7Wonderlicious products in return for your support

Every day I receive 5 to 10 requests to provide parents with recommendations of great products for girls. Parents are constantly on the lookout for:
  • gender neutral apparel, 
  • books and movies with great female role models, 
  • dolls with a healthy body proportions and age appropriate clothing, 
  • games and toys that promote critical thinking and develop the passion for science, math, engineering and technology,
  • or any other item that counters the toxic stereotypes that surround our girls every single day.
At the end of this month I will leave my career as an executive in an IT consulting firm to work on a project that I believe can change the industry's standards in regards products aimed at girls. A project that will connect parents and educators with like-minded businesses that care deeply about the future of our girls.

This project is huge and I will not be able to move forward without your support. In return I am literally giving away all 7Wonderlicious products, including products that have been sold out for months and products that have not yet been released. I am putting it all on the line because I believe this project can have a massive positive impact to girls all over the world. 

Today I start a crowdfunding campaign, will you please take part in investing in the future of all girls.

If my work over the past year has been of value to you and your girl, please help me create A Chain of Girl Goodness and in return I will share some awesome 7Wonderlicious goodness for the girl in your life. 

Girl Power!




PS. over the next 60 days I will also be sharing with you some great surprises from our very generous partners in crime. Happy Dance!