Posts Tagged ‘empowering girls’

Samoas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Caramel deLites, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Samoa Smile, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Girl Scout Cookie Season, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.4 1/3, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Hole In One, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Samoas, Caramel deLites, Samoa Smile, 4 1/3, Hole In One, Girl Scout Cookie Season, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

From the moment visionary Juliette Gordon Low exclaimed “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!,” the fate of the Girl Scout Cookie was sealed. Her providential encounter with Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, led to that historic day on March 12, 1912, when Low gathered 18 girls to register the first troop of American Girl Guides (changed to Girl Scouts in 1913).

Liz and I passed Juliette Gordon Low’s Savannah home on a breezy morning bus tour last summer. Later that day, we would take Mom to see the childhood home of writer Flannery O’Connor, but the tour of Low’s home will have to wait until the next trip South. Juliette Gordon Low was a writer, too. Known as “Daisy” to family and friends, she supported and developed a lifetime interest in the Arts. She wrote poems and plays, sketched, and later became a skilled painter and sculptor.

She was also deaf and spent her life advocating for girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many activities. Juliette suffered chronic ear infections and lost hearing in one ear from improper treatment. At 26, she would lose hearing in her second ear on her wedding day after a grain of good-luck rice lodged in her ear, puncturing the eardrum and resulting in an infection and total loss of hearing.

Long before women had the right to vote, Low was instrumental in encouraging girls to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness, not only in homemaking, but in future roles as professional women in the arts, sciences, business, and marketing so their organization would be self-supporting. Cookie sales began as early as 1917 with the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, which (with mothers as technical advisors) baked cookies and sold them in the high school cafeteria as a service project.

After claiming humble beginnings as a simple sugar cookie (click for an original Girl Scout recipe), the Girl Scout Cookie business is thriving. Once packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen, there are now over a dozen varieties of Girl Scout Cookies sold all over the world. When I was a Girl Scout in the 1960’s, there were about 14 bakers (now there are two or three), Girl Scout Cookies were being wrapped in printed aluminum foil or cellophane, and a number of varieties were available including Chocolate Mint, Shortbread, and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies.

Courage, Confidence, Character, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Yum!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Thanks Juliette Gordon Low, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Today there are eleven varieties, including three mandatory ones — Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich (Do-si-dos), and Shortbread (Trefoils). I’m a Samoa fan (or Caramel deLite, depending on the baker). Liz’s #1 is the Thin Mint. I’m also the resident Cookie Monster. Just last week, I finished up our last box for the year, when Liz and I happened to step into a Walgreens yesterday and guess what? Right smack dab inside the door was a huge table of Girl Scout Cookies, complete with two Troop leaders and three Girl Scouts (sporting Junior Girl Scout Cookie Biz Badges).

What was the first thing we did? Buy two more boxes, one Samoa, one Shortbread. And, sadly, you can never eat just one!

After doing the research for this piece last weekend, I felt qualified to strike up a conversation about “Daisy” Gordon with one of the Girl Scouts in Walgreens. She was excited to tell me that their troop was writing a play for Juliette Gordon Low to be presented at their next meeting. “What’s the bestselling cookie this year?” I asked her mother. “Oh, the Thin Mint, hands down,” she said. “Followed by your friend (tap, tap, tap the box), the Samoa!”

Did you belong to the Girl Scouts? Were your parents involved (my mother was once the Troop Leader of Troop 38)? Or maybe you were a member of another girls service organization. If so, you owe part of what you learned to Juliette Gordon Low. She has had ships, schools, and even a stamp named after her; on July 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill authorizing a stamp in her honor, one of the few dedicated to women.

At a time when she was down and drifting through life, Low’s chance meeting with Robert Baden-Powell inspired her to pay it forward. Her legacy lives on in the 3.7 million members, and over 50 million girls, women, and men who have belonged to the Girl Scouts. On January 17, 1927, at age 67, Juliette Gordon Low died from breast cancer at her Savannah, Georgia, home on Lafayette Square.

Low was baptized, confirmed, married, and buried (in her Girl Scout uniform) at Georgia’s first church, and John Wesley’s only American parish, Christ Church Savannah. It was on those same steps in 1912 that she recruited many of the 18 original Girl Scouts. After her death, her friends honored her by establishing the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which finances international projects for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world.

Can't Eat Just One!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Can't Eat Just One!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Can't Eat Just One!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 9th, 2009

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Last week I read the book Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, Ph.D., and this week Jim is reading it. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this book, you’ll nonetheless recognize the phenomenon it describes — the adolescent girl’s loss of self.

Just think of a typical 10- or 11-year-old girl. Gangly, unconcerned with how she looks, willing to speak her mind without fear of embarrassment, curious, brash, silly. Now picture the same girl at ages 12, 13, 14. She’s moody, sometimes sullen, often preoccupied with saying just the right thing or saying nothing at all since nothing can’t be judged as “dumb” by her peers.

I’m reading Reviving Ophelia because in the short time Dee’s been in middle school, I see subtle changes in her and her small group of friends. I also see big differences between them and some of the other girls their age. I figure Dee is heading to where those other girls are, and I’m hoping I can help guide her journey there.

I’m also reading the book because friends of mine who are therapists working with girls this age suggested I read it. I’m taking their advice because I love who Dee is at her core, and I want to do what I can to help her be faithful to her true (goofy, in-awe-of-nature, big-hearted, mischievous) self.

It’s a lot harder to navigate the halls of adolescence today than it was when I was a kid. Yes, we had peer pressure and parents (like mine) who weren’t always overly involved in our lives. We had pot, and we had beer, and we had Annie Greensprings. But at least our media-influenced “ideals” were mostly about long, straight hair and white teeth (a.k.a. Marsha Brady and Laurie Partridge).

Today, tweens have the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and sex, plus they’ve been bombarded with images of a narcissist heiress leaving prison in skinny jeans and Marcello Toshi shoes, a genitalia-shaving-and-flashing drunken celebrity who parties and rehabs, parties and rehabs, and who else? Lindsay Lohan?

Dee and her peers live in a world of tube tops and breast implants and nose jobs. They’ve got girl-bashing music and sexualized everything. When last did they hear that it was en vogue to be kind to unpopular kids, to care about the poor, or be concerned by global warming?

This is not a now-that-she’s-in-middle-school revelation. Dee’s first day of second grade: A fellow seven-year-old arrives at our house wearing black mini skirt, black boots to her knee, red-and-black off-the-shoulder t-shirt, and black fingerless gloves that go past her elbow. She looks like a baby hooker. 

You can say (I did) that that girl’s parents weren’t on the ball. That they were at fault for buying their daughter that get-up. But the point is, that get-up was available at stores everywhere! That and t-shirts touting bad girls and sexy girls and spoiled girls. Elementary-aged girls can wear their own versions of the same high heel shoes that adult women wear.

Reviving Ophelia isn’t about anything we parents and others don’t already see and know, but it is a wake-up call to something for which I’ve become inured:

We are going backwards.

The other day, Dee brought me a Halloween circular from Party City. “Who’s this,” she asked, pointing to a woman with tall pinkish-white hair. “That’s Marie Antoinette,” I said. Then I started to study the image. 

I’ve included it at the end of this post. Take a look. They’re all women, and every one of them, without exception, is a sex kitten. This is the front cover; the back cover is just like it.

Alarmed, I rifled through the rest of the mail. I came across a postcard for a rug-cleaning company. I’ve included the flier’s image at the end of this post, too. Look at it. Tell me what you see. How old do you think the girl in the photo is? And what exactly does her near-naked body add to the notion of rug cleaning??

Wake up fathers, mothers, aunts!

Tell the 11- and 12-year-old girls in your life about lookism. Point out to them what it is society thinks they should be. Encourage them to choose different options. To be individuals and independent thinkers. To resist what has become the norm for girls and women today.

Explain that they might be shunned, but help them be strong. Be there for them. Guide them through choices they have to make.

Dee is not ours for much longer, but for the time we have her, we’re going to do our best to show her a different way.

Party City Halloween costume circular, front cover
Party City circular featuring Halloween costumes. Three pages filled with women as sex objects. October 2007.

Serafians Rugs flier
Serafian’s Oriental Rugs postcard flier featuring a young woman lying naked except for loose fabric, promoting rug cleaning. October 2007.

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