If I were a ---blank---...

Kara Powell | Feb 17, 2011

These days I’m enjoying (and being convicted by) flipping through Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.

According to Orenstein, part of the problem with Princess mania for girls is that their perspective gets more narrow and truncated. She shares an interesting story about her daughter’s preschool class given an assignment in which kids completed this sentence: “If I were a—-blank—-, I’d—-blank—- to the store.” For example, “If I were a fairy, I’d fly to the store.”

The boys in the class had chosen to be a whole host of things, ranging from firemen to spiders to tigers to raisins.

The girls in the class fell into exactly 4 camps: princess, fairy, butterly, and ballerina.

Orenstein writes, “The boys seemed to be exploring the world; the girls were exploring femininity. What they ‘got’ to do may have been uniquely theirs, but it was awfully circumscribed.”

Of course, this was just one class of preschoolers - a limited data set to be sure. But I think it illustrates how girls tend to assume they have fewer options, and the options they choose are more dainty and girlie than adventurous and risk-taking.

As I read the book, I became more and more convicted about the language I want to use with girls—and guys for that matter, but this blog is about girls. Am I helping every girl in my orbit dream BIG dreams about her future and what God might be calling her to? Do I help her understand that as God calls her, there is NOTHING she can’t accomplish?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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