At this point I’m kind of hoping Blaire Wilson gets a storyline of being just a simple farm girl and raising a lamb and a pig as a 4H or Girl Scout project. Just something quiet and peaceful and where she gets to be a kid and have fun and enjoy her childhood. No “I have to sell my beloved animals to single-handedly save my family farm from financial ruin” or “I’m raising this adorable piglet to earn money to buy my own farm even though I’m ten”.
I’m hoping for this because I feel like it’s tough for me any more to get interested in some of the Girl of the Year stories. To me it seems like at this point, the characters are so often feeling compelled to save the world or make a difference on such a huge scale, in ways that no longer feel very realistic, relatable, or appropriate.
Saige’s story illustrates what I’m talking about. All she wants is art classes back in school every year rather than every other year, and eventually she is forced to hold a press conference, something she flat-out does not want to do (and seems pointless in the end, honestly). Kanani has to run her family’s business to raise money to save an endangered species. Gabriela has the burden of saving the community arts center put onto her heart. Grace literally starts her own business at nine years old (!!!). Luciana has to start her astronaut training sooner rather than later or else she won’t be the first kid on Mars?
I don’t think it’s wrong to tell girls that they have strength and that their voices matter and that their ideas are valuable, because all that is completely true. Society actively tries to silence and demean young girls, and outspoken girls are the perfect way to counteract that. And I think it’s important to teach girls that their actions matter and that they absolutely can make a difference in the world, no matter how small and powerless they feel. But I wonder if by presenting nearly every Girl of the Year as having an endless amount of bravery and and perseverance, that this idea has started to drown out the voices of girls who aren’t ready to take on adult responsibilities so early in life.
Because those girls are just as valid and important as the girls doing great things. They don’t have to prove anything, especially not their worth. They don’t have to be Great and Outstanding to still be considered useful in the world. Nobody does. Ever. The idea that only “valuable” and “dynamic” people matter hurts everyone, but to me almost seems anti-woman? It invalidates all the work women have historically done to keep households running, bring up children and animals, and raise crops that feed whole communities. Work that women have done for millenia without being recognized or praised for it.
So if all you can do is raise a little lamb for 4H and maybe shear her fleece and maybe make a little knitted hat for someone’s new baby, then that’s wonderful and beautiful! And if someday you feel compelled to be the first woman on Mars, then you can and you should move toward that dream because how cool would that be? But….. you have your whole life ahead of you. You don’t need to achieve all your dreams before you’re even a teenager in order to still be appreciated. In the meantime, enjoy your childhood for as long as it lasts.