Monday, April 30, 2012

Movie of the Month: An Education

"If you never do anything, you never become anyone."

In the early 1960's, sixteen year old Jenny Mellor lives with her parents in the London suburb of Twickenham. On her father's wishes, everything that Jenny does is in the sole pursuit of being accepted into Oxford, as he wants her to have a better life than he. Jenny is bright, pretty, hard working but also naturally gifted. The only problems her father may perceive in her life is her issue with learning Latin, and her dating a boy named Graham, who is nice but socially awkward. Jenny's life changes after she meets David Goldman, a man over twice her age. David goes out of his way to show Jenny and her family that his interest in her is not improper and that he wants solely to expose her to cultural activities which she enjoys. Jenny quickly gets accustomed to the life to which David and his constant companions, Danny and Helen, have shown her, and Jenny and David's relationship does move into becoming a romantic one. However, Jenny slowly learns more about David, and by association Danny and Helen, and specifically how they make their money. Jenny has to decide if what she learns about them and leading such a life is worth forgoing her plans of higher eduction at Oxford.

After watching this movie discuss how this matched up with your experience of Girl World. How do the characters match up with societies expectations of relationships, girls, boys, and parents and how do they counter them?

(Idea adapted from Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, summary adapted from IMDB, and photo from

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book of the Month

“Life’s got to be lived, no matter how long or short… You got to take what comes. We just go along, like everybody else, one day at a time.”

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: This is a novel that begs the question of what is really important in a young girl’s life and how will the answer to that question impact the rest of their lives. The story is a fantasy that surrounds a family named Tuck who through accidentally stumbling upon a spring in a wood, which after they drink from are given the gift of eternal life. In order for their secret to ever be discovered they travel quietly around the countryside. But before too long a young girl named Winnie Foster learns their secret. Throughout the story she grows to love and care for the family so much so that she will do anything she can to protect them. As the story progresses that love is tested when a villain desires to steal the family's secret for himself. another battle that Winnie must face is whether or not she is going to choose to live eternally with the Tuck family or let her life play out the way it was originally meant to.
1.       How is the pond water similar to life itself?
2.      Why does Tuck liken himself and his family to “rocks beside the road?”
3.      What are your emotions surround the ending of this story?
4.     What do you think about Jesse's offer to Winnie? Would you agree to drink the water? Are your reasons that similar to Winnie's?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm

The second right for girls on Girls, Inc Bill of Rights is that girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm. The importance of this right is demonstrated in the following stastics:
-Fifty-one percent of girls surveyed said that they experience stereotypes that limit their right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.  Over a third (37 percent) of girls indicated that they feel constrained by these stereotypes, saying they don’t like them.
-More than one in three girls say it is true and they don’t like it that “girls are expected to speak softly and not cause trouble, and that 40% don’t like it that “people don’t think girls are good leaders”.
-Approximately one in three girls (32 percent) does not feel that she has “opportunity for open discussion in [her] classes.”
-A study commissioned by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation found that girls in middle school must overcome “subtle, but powerful messages reinforcing boys’ dominance in the classroom” from teachers and school administrators.
Through Girls, Inc’s programs of Project Bold, Media Literacy, Sporting Chance, Leadership and Community Action, Friendly PEERsuasion and Economic Literacy we encourage girls to take risks and master physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges and they build leadership skills, self-confidence, and knowledge within these girls.

(Photo credit Technology in the Arts, St. Vincent, Academic Diagnosis, Lena Dunham and statistics from Harris Interactive Survey Results.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Here's a thought... write a personal mission statement!

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” -Carl Jung

With this new beginning that spring brings what a perfect time to clear you mind and start fresh with a mission statement! Here's how to begin. Grab a piece of paper and your favorite pen. Sit yourself down somewhere comfy and answer some questions like these ones. But feel free to come up with more! There are no rules with this!
I am at my best when...
I am at my worst when...
My natural talents and gifts are...
If I had unlimited time and resources and knew I could not fail, what would I choose to do?
My life's journey is...
What would people say about you on your 80th birthday
Imagine you could invite to dinner three people who have influence you the most. Write their names and the one quality or attribute you admire most in these people.
What are your values? What is most important to you?
What are some goals you'd like to achieve this year?
What kind of image do you hope to project? Is it similar or dissimilar to the image you're projecting right now?
Allow your mind to wander around these questions and put down anything that comes to mind. It really helps is you can be completely honest with this. From here, you can pick key phrases as well as words that seem to keep coming up and weave them together to make a first draft of your personal mission statement. Put the words together and watch what appears in front of you.
(Adapted from A Girl On A Mission: How To Write A Personal Mission Statement! by gala darling and photo of Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book of the Month

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This rich social commentary is sometimes considered to be Jane Austen's finest novel. Austen sets her entertaining study of manners and misconceptions against the backdrop of a class-conscious society in 18th-century England. Spirited, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet is alternately enchanted and insulted by Mr. Darcy. She is quick to suspend her usual, more rational judgment when it comes to him. She also is quick to believe the worst gossip about this haughty, opinionated man, who soon manages to alienate Elizabeth and her family. But is the condescending air that Mr. Darcy wars an indication of his real character? Or has Elizabeth's pride gotten in the way of her chance for true romance?

Discussion Questions:

1.       Lydia and Wickham pose a danger to the Bennet family as long as they are unmarried and free. But as a married couple, with little improvement in their behavior, this danger vanishes. In Pride and Prejudice marriage serves many functions. It is a romantic union, a financial merger, and a vehicle for social regulation. Think about all the marriages in the book with respect to how well they are fulfilling those functions. Is marriage today still an institution of social regulation?

2.      What are your feelings about Mr. Bennet? Is he a good father? A good husband? A good man?

3.      Elizabeth Bennet says,".... people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever."Do any of the characters in the book change substantially? Or do they, as Elizabeth says of Darcy, "in essentials" remain much as they ever were?

(Adapted from Norton Critical Editions and Penguin Classics Edition and photo from My Book Covers by Megan Wilson)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes

The first right for girls on Girls, Inc Bill of Rights is that girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes. The importance of this right is demonstrated in the following statistics:

-60% of girls say that they experience stereotypes that limit their right to be themselves.

- An international study found that the stereotypes most associated with women were “feminine,” “affectionate,” “emotional,” “superstitious,” “attractive,” “sensitive,” and “sexy.”  The stereotypes most associated with men were “masculine,” “adventurous,” “forceful,” “strong,” “tough,” and “coarse.”  In every country surveyed, the female stereotype was weaker and less active than the male stereotype.

Through Girls, Inc’s programs of Project Bold, Media Literacy, and Economic Literacy we fight this stereotyping, girls feeling of being boxed in by those stereotypes, and encourage girls to be themselves. To conclude here is a fantastic video wonderful  little girl sharing her thoughts on gender stereotypes.

(Photo credit from Stereotypes and Short Stories; statistics from Harris Interactive Inc. and Pancultural gender stereotypes revisited: The five factor model.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Movie of the Month
"Poor cat! Poor slob! Poor slob without a name! The way I see it I haven't got the right to give him one. We don't belong to each other. We just took up one day by the river. I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It's like Tiffany's. "

Working but not yet accomplished writer Paul Varjak moves into a New York apartment building and becomes intrigued by a striking, unique neighbor of his named Holly Golightly. Holly's lifestyle confuses and fascinates Paul. In public she mingles and mixes through parties with a sexy, sophisticated air, but when it is just the two of them she changes into a sweetly vulnerable bundle of neuroses.

After watching this movie discuss how this matches up with your experience of Girl World. How do the characters match up with societies expectations of relationships, girls, boys, and parents and how do they counter them?

(Idea adapted from Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, summary from, and photo from

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle: Meg Murry, a high-school-aged girl, who just doesn’t seem to fit in with most people, is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O'Keefe to rescue her father from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. A Wrinkle in Time contains a powerful message about the power of love and the need to fight the darkness of ignorance and conformity as well as recognizing your own personal talents and abilities.
Discussion Questions:
1.       Meg, though certainly not an everywoman figure, has characteristics many people can relate to. Using specific textual evidence, create a description of Meg. Is she a character that you can relate to?
2.      How does Meg’s character effect the decisions she makes and the actions she takes in the first six chapters?
3.      Meg experiences various types of love throughout her adventure. How does her understanding of love develop over the course of the novel?
4.      If you had the opportunity to time travel, would you? If you could chose the time, what time period would you travel to? The past? The future?
(Adapted from 100 Books for Girls to Grow Old On and and photo from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Here's A Thought...Get Over That Girl Hate!

1. Separate girl hate from real hate.

It’s probably someone you don’t know too well—maybe you have mutual friends, or she’s in one of your classes. When you see her or she’s mentioned in conversation, you panic a little on the inside as your mind immediately goes to anything about her that could be at all negative. Find it! Quick! Reassure me of her flaws! Step one is seeing these annoying feelings for what they are: girl hate. Girl hate is not hating someone who happens to be a girl, it’s hating someone because we’re told that, as girls, we should hate other girls who are as awesome as or more awesome than ourselves. That there can ever only be ONE cool girl, ONE funny girl, ONE smart girl, etc., in a circle of people. Now that you know that, you can understand how stupid it all is, and differentiate between the girls you hate because you’re told to be jealous and the girls who might actually just not be nice people.

The bad news is that sometimes jealousy is more personal than that, and really does have to do with just you and her. You probably feel a little threatened by her because you two are so similar, but you’re afraid she’s an even better version of you. Here’s the thing—the horribly, eye-rollingly cheesy thing: no one can be a better version of yourself than you. And becoming the best possible example of your you-ness does not include focusing on how much you dislike another person.
2. Realize it has nothing to do with her.

Seriously. Look at her. You barely know this girl. She walks a certain way, answers questions in class a certain way, wears stuff no one else could pull off? Look: confidence is not a crime. It does not mean she thinks she’s better than you. It just means that she likes herself. I don’t want live in a world where any girl with healthy self-esteem is not cool, or where you have to dislike yourself to be considered a nice person. People not liking themselves seems to be where their hating other people begins. So get ready to reevaluate your opinion of this girl. Break the habits of looking for any little things she has done that could count against her, quit listening to gossip, stop judging her pictures on Facebook, and start giving her the benefit of the doubt.
3. New and improved, try Girl Love!

Trust me—you secretly want to be best friends with this girl. Because she’s like you! That’s where the jealousy comes in, remember?  Sometimes we can convince ourselves that pointing out flaws in others makes us feel good, but ultimately, those moments of pleasure are fleeting. In the long run, they get you in the habit of looking for flaws in everyone, including yourself.

4. And above all, maybe the most important thing to keep in mind…

She’s probably insecure about herself, too. We’re all going to be insecure no matter what. It sucks, but it’s why we can find friends and things we love to make it easier. Let’s not make it harder for one another or for ourselves.

(Adapted from Tavi Gevinson for Rookie)