At Girls at Work, Inc., a large part of our mission is to empower girls to shed society’s traditional standards and to become the strong, powerful and beautiful people they really are. The news this past week about Ray Rice’s abuse of his now-wife and the tepid reaction of the NFL – until the public became outraged enough to force its hand – is another reminder of why our mission is so important. Blame was heaped not only on the abuser, but on the abused as well. The round-the-clock airing of the horrific video in which Rice knocks out his then-girlfriend with a left hook has taken on the form of entertainment. What kind of message does all of this send to our young girls and to the women trapped in abusive relationships?
Our society does not encourage our girls to tap into their own power or strive to reach their full potential. Instead, the focus is on beauty and size. If you don’t meet the arbitrary standards forced upon us by television, magazines and movies, then you come to believe that makeup and diets will help you fit into the societal mold. Girls end up spending too much time trying to “fix” themselves rather than exploring the incredible potential they possess. On top of it all, they are bombarded by depictions of violent acts against women from all media. They are shown as victims. They are told they are powerless.
We need more images of strong women in all forms of media, whether it’s pictures, movies, television shows, or the Internet. The bottom line is it’s hard to be what you can’t imagine. So many girls have trouble imagining what they can truly be because positive role models in their daily lives are the exception, not the norm. If a young girl can’t see an example of the strong woman she can become, she has a lesser chance of ever becoming that woman.
Next week, we will spend a couple of days at the Hillsborough County Youth Center in New Boston along with more than 50 other businesses at Construction Career Days, sponsored by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWI). Each business will provide a hands-on experience for high school students, both boys and girls, where they will be able to get experience with everything from small woodworking projects to operating heavy equipment. They will have a chance to feel the power that comes from accomplishing these things on their own. They will learn that they CAN do it!
We are so excited that we are ramping up our efforts to get girls more deeply engaged in activities that empower them and give them the self-confidence they will need to become strong women. It is time for our society to slap the face of the media that continues to air messages of powerless girls and women. We all need to become part of the solution by providing positive images of girls and women to show our girls the strength, courage and determination that they all possess. Those are the real tools they need to tap into their own potential so that they will be able to do anything that they want to do with their lives. Let’s show them what we are all made of.