Thursday, May 19, 2011

Empowering Girls: Our Responsibility as Parents and People, Whether You Have A Girl Or Not!

This week's Guest Blogger, Lola Tsai, author of “For My Girls” and founder of SpiritRising, is near and dear to me.  Lola is both an amazing friend and an outstanding advocate and activist for girls everywhere.  You may be wondering why I'd ask someone to come to a blog about a little boy, and write about how to make the world better for little girls, but the answer is simple.  Before I had even thought of having a child, I was at the gym one morning where I witnessed a moment I'll never forget. An older woman and a younger pregnant woman stood near me in the dressing room and the older woman asked the pregnant woman what she was having, a boy or a girl.  When the woman answered that she was having a girl, the older woman said "That's too bad. Maybe you'll have a boy next time."  It sounds so outrageous, right? Well, when I was pregnant with Aias, many people asked me that same question, and when I said I was having a boy, they were jubilant.  Everyone told me how hard girls are, how I won't have to deal with the sexist clothes and toys, etc.  The truth is, parents of boys have a tough burden on their hands too.  For every parent of a little girl who has to teach their daughter that they don't need to look a certain way, there is a parent of a boy who needs to teach their son that they also shouldn't hold women to that false standard.  For every parent of a little girl who has to teach their daughter that women have value and are equal to men, there is a parent of a boy who needs to teach their son the same.  I can imagine nothing worse for Aias than letting him grow up as anything but a feminist.  I want him to grow up in a world where girls are given a fighting chance.  People like Lola Tsai are doing everything in their power to make this happen, and I hope you will do the same.

Enough of my rambling!  I present to you a piece from the amazing Lola Tsai!

Illustration by Julie Tervo Dexter
My Dad had always wanted a boy, but we ended up with three girls, me being the oldest. He wanted a son so badly that his nickname for me when I was young was a boy’s name, and I had the ugliest boy’s haircut until I was halfway into high school. Even though not life-or-death detrimental, it’s had a huge impact on me as I grow older, trying to make sense of who I am as a woman. To this day, feeling and embodying being feminine is something I have to consciously work at, and is still learning everyday. As we raise a new generation of girls and make efforts to re-teach our world that wholeness and power is both masculine AND feminine, what does it really mean to “empower girls”, and most importantly, HOW do we do this on a daily basis?

First, I think it requires us to take a close and in-depth look at what we currently believe about girls. Certain concepts are so engrained in us that we might be the biggest advocates for girls empowerment but still unconsciously say or do things that degrade what it means to be a girl or feminine. “Crying is for girls” or “you run like a girl” are common things we say and hear that naturally reinforce that being a girl is weak and not a winner. Taking the time to slow down and observe what we say will be a powerful first step to examine what we believe about girlhood. We can only start to change what we are aware of, and this change starts with us.

Next, let us re-think what it means to be POWERFUL…after all, to “empower” is to bring out the power within. True power is authentic, whole, and serves on the highest level. In daily life, this translates into reaffirming our girls that their power and beauty lies in their spirit, their whole range of intelligences, and their ability to love the world.

• Power and beauty in spirit – Teach our girls that what’s truly powerful is not temporary or destructible. A beautiful dress or a nice body can be great temporarily, but what happens if they are destroyed or gone? True beauty and power lies in what never goes away: in what we say, in our actions, in our spirit, and in our intentions, despite what we wear or what our bodies look like.

• Wholeness of intelligence – Strengthen in our girls the whole range of intelligences that exist in all human beings, both masculine and feminine, logical and emotional, rational and intuitive. There is no such thing that science or sports are only for boys or that girls should be the only ones learning how to cook. The most powerful and efficient is when we utilize all aspects of our brain and being. We need to encourage our girls to grow in all areas of inner thinking and outer skills, to practice listening to their inner guidance and then actualize that wisdom by expressing it outward through actions.

• Ability to love – Perhaps the most powerful and the most magnetic is to remind our girls that, in alignment with what it means to be a girl, is the essence to choose, to lead, and to create what is LOVING for the world. Teach our girls to respect themselves and others. Teach our girls to nurture themselves and others. Teach our girls to affirm themselves and others. Teach our girls to love themselves and others. Therefore, teaching our girls that what we do to ourselves, we do to the world and vice versa. So to empower the world, we girls must first empower ourselves.

Thank you to all those who remind our girls to go within themselves, to find the power that is already there. Now we practice voicing it, amplifying it, showing it, magnifying it…in boldly loving ways.

Copyright 2010 Lola Tsai

Lola Tsai is the author of “For My Girls” and founder of SpiritRising, an empowerment company that teaches and coaches people how to live with love and spirit. She started the “Empowerment Girls. Change the World.” blog to promote her passion for raising girls’ potential around the world and her life mission is to inspire purpose, passion, and dreams towards positive world change. Lola loves children, enjoys spending time with her friends, reading, writing, walking and running along Kits beach, and traveling. 

The “For My Girls” book was inspired late one night to fulfill a dream: the dream that all girls around the world would hear and hold more empowering words in their hands.  Through this simple poem, we hope to encourage grown-ups everywhere to share more empowering words with the girls in their lives, and ultimately create a net of empowered girls worldwide.

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The "For My Girls" book and calendar project aims to spread power and inspiration to girls around the world through its simple words and images of strength, power, love and magnificence within the heart of every girl. Order your copies here:

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