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Strong, Smart and Bold
by Girls Incorporated

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Whether you are 6 or 60 there are several things you can do to help girls become strong, smart and bold.

This list of tips will enable you to prepare girls to achieve their best potential and to overcome traditional stereotypes that encourage girls to be nothing more than "sugar and spice and everything nice." There are also some tips on what you can do to challenge these limitations and expand options for all girls.

Ways to help girls become strong, smart & bold:
  • Praise girls for their skills and successes, not only for their appearances. Say, "you did a terrific job," instead of "you look pretty today."
  • Avoid rescuing girls. Encourage them to get dirty, disheveled and sweaty climbing trees or playing in the grass. Allow them to take risks.
  • Debunk the myth of Prince Charming. Teach girls that most women will work for pay for most of their lives. Every girl needs to be prepared to support herself.
  • Teach girls to watch TV and movies with a critical eye. Discuss what you've seen together: Look for strong, smart women who are not limited to "traditional" roles.
  • Use TV to start a discussion about body image. Consider how girls are portrayed on TV: Are heavier girls shown as unpopular? Do they go out on dates? Are they used as comic relief? Are girls with voluptuous figures only shown as sex symbols? Do they seem to be smart?
  • Give girls more opportunities to be leaders. Let them choose the activity, make the rules, settle the dispute. A girl who has learned to lead is better prepared to take charge of her own education and career.
  • Give girls many opportunities to experience science, math and technology. Girls are ready, willing and eager to explore, but often haven't had enough exposure or encouragement. For example, girls can put objects in water to see if they float, attempt simple household experiments such as making vegetable dyes or they can learn to repair their own bicycles.
  • Help girls get beyond "yuk." Insist calmly that girls hold a snake, dissect a worm, get their hands dirty discovering the world around them.
  • Introduce girls to dynamic women who combine paid work, volunteer work and family life.
  • Be an example. By respecting yourself and other women, you set a standard which girls can follow.

Ways to change the world for girls:
  • Write complaint letters to toy and publishing companies that produce sexist toys, books and materials. Buy only non-sexist products.
  • Urge the fashion industry to expand its definition of beauty by featuring more diverse models and to celebrate women in ways that go beyond physical appearance.
  • Write to your senators and representatives to insist on legislation which makes career and family a survivable combination ó focus on parental leave, health insurance and child care. Circulate a petition to get additional signatures.
  • Ask questions and take action if you see something unfair or biased on television. Write a letter to your local station or the producers of the show sharing your concern.
  • Support the work of women campaigning for girls' and women's rights and equality. By volunteering your time or money, or by supporting women-owned businesses, you can make a difference in the world and in girls' lives.

© 1995 Girls Incorporated.

Girls Incorporated is the nation's leading voice for girls. Through innovative programs offered by a national network of 134 affiliates and backed by cutting edge research, Girls Incorporated is leading the effort to make every girl strong, smart and bold.

For additional information contact your local Girls Incorporated affiliate.

Or contact:

Girls Incorporated
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016-5394
Tel: (212) 689-3700
Fax: (212) 683-1253
E-mail: [email protected]

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