As someone who works in communications, I naturally have a lot of friends who do similar things for a living. I will regularly get an article or video forwarded via email or social media. I usually take a look, think how I may or may not have done it differently, and move on.
However, a friend who is also a fellow mom to a beautiful girl in elementary school forwarded me the video above with the almost frantic post: Anyone with daughters must watch!I expected to watch, and move along.
It was a video created by a documentary filmmaker for Always, the feminine product line, and asks women to do various tasks “like a girl.” The women fight “like a girl” by flapping their hands around, run “like a girl” by flailing their feet out, and generally show the statement of “like a girl” in a negative or frivolous way. In contrast, young girls who haven‘t yet hit puberty take the opposite road – when asked to kick “like a girl,“ they give it all they‘ve got.
It was a video that stuck with me – I couldn‘t shake this idea that our society is somehow teaching girls that as they grow up, it is no longer acceptable to do anything like a girl.
I looked into my own world as a parent – I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of instilling a good sense of self in my daughter. However, as someone who has written blogs for this site before, I thought, am I really showing my daughter what it is like to enjoy nature like a girl? Or am I buying in to the same old stereotype that we somehow have to sanitize nature for our girls for them to enjoy it?
As a kid, I had no problem playing in our neighborhood creek for hours, catching tadpoles, getting muddy and climbing trees. But how was I experiencing nature with my daughter? I was generally keeping her in our tidy (most of the time) backyard, playing in the garden (with gloves on of course), and maybe throwing rocks (but not too hard!) in the nearby pond.
I vowed that I would show her that playing in nature like a girl involved more mud, more mess and, possibly, more fun. And the biggest part of my promise to myself was that I would do it with her. I realized I was just like those older women in the video – I had lost my sense of what I loved most about nature, and to find it I’d have to play like that girl who loved the creek.
Psychological studies show that children learn from modeling behavior of others, and some of the strongest models of behavior are their parents. And a recent study by The Nature Conservancy showed that the person that kids are most likely to be out in nature with is their parent, more than a friend, teacher, or extended family member. That meant my daughter Abby and I were in it together.
Our first opportunity came at a family party that just so happened to be near a lake. Rather than turn on the sprinkler in the yard, Abby and I wandered down to the lake shore. Instead of our usual system of me holding her back while she throws rocks in, we walked hand in hand into the water. It was rocky and we fell after only a few steps in — we got wet… really wet.
We both laughed together, probably louder than we had in days or even weeks. When we got out, we lifted big stones along the shore to look for bugs and worms. We looked for sticks to roast marshmallows later that night. By the time we got back to the house, we were pretty gross. It was awesome.
I‘m going to continue to remember that I should be showing my daughter that it is OK to play in nature like a girl.
I know it can’t always happen, but when that opportunity arises, I hope she‘ll see from me that I‘m not scared to get dirty or fall because sometimes it can be downright fun.
If you have ways that you are enjoying nature like a girl, comment below and make sure to share it via social media with the hashtag #likeagirl.
By Rachel Roberts
Image credit: Tommy Wong via Flickr Creative Commons