In June, Peggy Ornstein, known for writing and speaking about issues affecting girls and women, wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine, about a video that went viral on the internet, showcasing 8- and 9-year-old girls dancing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” The article, and subsequent blog about the video, raised questions about whether these girls were being empowered by their performance, or whether, they were not only being prematurely exposed to sexualized content in magazines, on TV, and in music videos, but actually being encouraged and congratulated by their parents and other adults for their spot-on portrayal of the original music video.
The precocious dance routine is not the only example these days of girls being rewarded for dressing and acting like provocative women. The popular program, “Toddlers & Tiaras” follows young beauty pageant contestants and their families, as they go to extreme lengths and costs to compete dressed, and made up, as glamorous women. There is clearly an appetite for the entertainment provided by little girls pursuing a superficial ideal of beauty. Experts are concerned about the rise in pageant attendance by little girls, and worry about the long term effect of the emphasis on beauty and early sexualization at such a young age. A nice counterpoint to the barrage of images and ads facing girls and young women, is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, emphasizing confidence over stereotype, nicely expressed in this moving ad.
Girls attending camp at Aloha Hive and Aloha, spend their busy days dressed in green shorts, and a t-shirt, hair air-dried after a swim in the lake. Shifting the focus away from clothes, hairstyling and accessories allows girls to move beyond the facade of perceived beauty and fashion, and spend their time and energy on weightier matters. Girls at camp have the opportunity to truly be themselves when they do not have to worry about what their clothes, hairstyle or make-up are saying to others. Girls who are hiking, or canoeing or throwing a pot don’t have to worry about ruining an outfit, or wearing the wrong shoes. At camp, being empowered means learning new skills, making great choices and reaching important goals. Girls and young women who spend their summers at camp in Fairlee, Vermont, are able to listen to their inner voice, without the distractions and anxieties caused by what’s “hot,” or what’s not. At The Alohas, the best accessory for every girl is a confident smile.