Janet Sumner Johnson
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High Heels and Science: Being Girly is Okay


07, 2014 |

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So this past week or so, this article about a Verizon
commercial has been going around:

“Powerful Ad Shows What A Little Girl Hears When You Tell Her She’s Pretty”

After watching the commercial, I have all kinds of things going through my head.
Things that have been swirling about for a while now, and I am tired of holding
it in. First, as a parent, I tell my boys not to get their clothes muddy, too.
Because, LAUNDRY. Need I say more? And who are they to tell us what a girl hears
when you tell her she’s pretty? I’m a girl. I know just fine what I hear.

Because here is the thing: my personal experience as a girl
was pretty much the opposite. No one took tools from me and said ‘let your
brother do that.’ Everyone told me how great I was at science and math. From
parents, to teachers, to professors. And knowing how much of a braggart I must
sound, I was great at it. All my
highest test scores and best/easiest grades were in math and science.

Everyone encouraged me to go into a science, depending on
what subject they favored: My orthodontist told me I should be an orthodontist.
My engineer dad encouraged me to be an engineer. My HS and college math
professors said I should major in math. My physical science professor
encouraged me to major in science.

And they were all men. They saw potential, they encouraged.
Good on them! Exactly what the ad said adults should be doing. And what the ad
suggests they aren’t doing. Keep in mind, I am old. Like in my 30’s *wink,* so this
was back in the day women were discouraged from science, right?

By all accounts, I should have been in that 18% mentioned in
the ad. Because I liked science. And I STILL liked it when I got to college.
Plus, I was encouraged, which,
according to this ad, simply doesn’t happen for girls. And right up until my
first semester of college, I planned to be an engineer.

So what happened? What went wrong???


That first semester, I realized that the classes that I loved
were not math and science. So I switched. Majored in English. And I am one of
those people who was somehow “failed” by society because I didn’t
major in science. Or so this study tells me.

Well I am here to tell you that I was not
“failed.” I did not fall out of love with math and science because
society discouraged me or told me I couldn’t be good at it. I simply loved
other stuff more. I know it is not politically correct to suggest that gender
might be an influence, but there it is.

In no way do I mean to suggest that there won’t be women
out there who love science best. Of course there are. And actually, I know and love quite a few of them. But why make the other
82% feel like crap for not choosing science? MUST we choose it simply because
we can? Simply because others aren’t?

I read an article where the author makes a conscious effort not to talk clothes or hair or pretty with little girls. And while I love a lot about the article, I was left with a
question: What if a girl loves fashion? What if she loves make-up? What if she
wants to cut hair? Are those desires unacceptable now? Are those subjects not
“smart” enough? Not educated enough?

The coveted high heels
Because I have a little girl who loves all of that stuff.
And trust me, this is not me thrusting girliness upon her. I was a Tomboy with
a capital ‘T.’ I loved sports and taking things apart and running around
without a shirt because my brothers could. So imagine my surprise when my own
daughter is not like that. When my own daughter insists on cute girly froofy
skirts that poof when she spins. When all she wants for her birthday is a pair
of high heels (I don’t even wear high heels!).
“But these jeans!” I say, “Don’t you want to
wear jeans? Like Mama?”

Nope, she’s having none of it. She knows what she likes, and
who I am to discourage that simply because the world says she should love
science, and sports, and stuff that is not cutesy? Stuff that is “educated.”

I have just read so many articles and seen so many ads (I’m
talking to you, GoldieBlox with your anti-pink Super Bowl ad)
on what you should and shouldn’t say to little girls, and what you should and
shouldn’t give. I worry that the swing from healthy encouragement of letting girls
be who they choose to be has switched to discouraging little girls from doing
things that are esteemed to be “girly.” Pink is not okay. Dresses are
oppression incarnate. Choosing to teach or study English, or heavens, stay at home
to raise children is letting societal stereotypes guide your life.

I assure you, it is not. And with that, I claim pink to be an
acceptable color, dolls to be acceptable toys, and dresses to be acceptable

In no way do I mean to belittle women who choose science. I
LOVE science! I think it’s great when women choose that—as long as it is their
choice and not society forcing it upon them. I am sure there are girls who did
not get the encouragement that I did. Girls who maybe would have gone into a
science. And for that, I am sorry. Just as sorry as I am for girls who are put
down for liking pink.

I defend the rights of girls to choose science or NOT. The
rights of girls to love pink, blue, orange, black, fuscia, or all of them. To be a girly
girl, a tomboy, or a mix of the two as they so choose.
Society would vilify these words. Tell you they are insults. But I disagree! To
be Girly is a joyous and beautiful thing. I know because I see it daily with my
own daughter. To be a Tomboy is exciting and a daily adventure. I know because
I lived it.

There is room for all of it, and we need to find a way to
encourage the one without denigrating the other (whatever your preference may

Speak up:



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Fun With License Plates


05, 2014 |

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I don’t know what it is, but April is akin to December at our house. Busy with all kinds of fun and crazy activities. I fully plan to tell you about my travels and the awesome writing conference I went to, but not today.

Today I wanted to share a little license plate fun.

First there was the one on the gray infiniti:

See it? In front of that white car? . . .

Okay, I was driving, and just couldn’t get the picture, but this was the license plate:

Awesome, no?
And then I saw this other gray car:

I don’t know why it struck me as so funny, that the car wasn’t pink. But now I need to know the story!
I ask this all the time, but I think the answer can change, so I ask it again: What would your personalized plate say today?

Speak up:



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