Jessica Smart (nee Faerber), author of More Than Just Pretty, shares what she wants to tell girls on International Day of the Girl Child.
What do I want to say to girls on International Day of the Girl?
Well I know what I don’t want to say: ‘airy fairy’ things or things that are said all the time.
I want to say something powerful to girls, something that breaks down barriers and expectations, something that propels girls to fight for their dreams, something that encourages girls to rise together.
The barriers I want to break down are those which subtly but fiercely suggest that girls aren’t good enough, pretty enough, slim enough, smart enough, strong enough.
I’ve personally wasted way too much time trapped behind these barriers. It took someone handing me the key to unlock and unblock what was holding me back: my thoughts about myself. Only then did I live in freedom to be truly me unconfined and unrestrained. I want to hand that key on to other girls who can do the same for others.
It’s time to take back words that say we “aren’t enough” and redefine them. It’s time for us to reclaim them. We are not created to be doll-like in shape and perfection. We are not created to be objectified. We are not created to be what society deems to be “girly”.
It’s time for us to reclaim what it means to be a girl.
To claim that we’re enough as we are right now and we’re enough as we are in the future; to claim that we don’t have to fit into an ideological box.
To claim that beauty standards themselves are unrealistic and unattainable. We are pretty, but we are also so much more than that.
To claim that our bodies are good, no matter their shape or their size - and they are for us. To claim that we are flipping smart, intelligent and capable.
To claim that for those of us who are gentle, there’s so much strength in that. To claim that we are mighty and we are strong; physically, mentally, emotionally; as individuals and as a whole.
Once we realise this deeply for ourselves, the image of women marching comes to mind in my head. This image represents girls standing tall, aware of their strength and character individually and collectively and marching towards their purpose. It’s an image of strength, courage and unity (because we can’t do it on our own); all things we have, all things which shouldn’t be squashed out of girls.
So let’s not assess our worthiness, be confined and restricted, or dwell on how ‘enough’ we feel. Let’s spread the truth that we ‘are’.
We are girls.
We are more than just pretty.
We are strong.
Let’s reclaim what it means to be a “girl” and let’s starts now.