Friday, August 24, 2012

Aqua Girl Star

Today was the last day of my summer job, in which I taught lead mentored became the spirit guide of counseled kids at an art-centric day camp. I consider my counseling style to be like, a really balanced mix between stern disapproval and like quirky good-naturedness. Basically, I'm like the best camp counselor ever.

Anyway, during this week's course in clay, the younguns went at it creating underwater scenes with Nemos and octopi and such. A lot of the girls made tiny mermaid figurines, complete with clamshell bras and everything. So naturally Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor had to make her own mermaid.
The kids loved it, actually

How young is too young to be lectured on about the harmful messages of Disney's The Little Mermaid? (The median age was like, eight years old each week). Whatever, Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor was tired after six weeks of paint, scraps of paper on the floor and that one time that kid threw up and didn't tell anybody. Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor was very good and compassionate at her job until suddenly she wanted to hide in a corner and just eat her snack in peace.

Some of these kids broke my heart. Specifically some of the girls. Week after week I brought girls into the hallway for some deep breaths and a pep-talk as they sobbed. The cause was nearly always the same: the girl was confused by the project or was overwhelmed by it or thought she sucked and was awful and it was awful.

Let's remember, Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Counselor is also a feminist who hopes to spread the feminist agenda to as many impressionable young people as possible. Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor also wants her charges to be confident and empowered young ladies and it kills her to see these girls with so little self-esteem.

Now, not all the girls suffered from this. Some were happy and bubbly and wonderful little know-it-all's. They were nice to each other. One little girl even had "girl power" written on her folder.

But here's the thing: through all of my six weeks there, I only had one boy cry about the same thing. And he was six years old.

A lot of the boys did their projects incorrectly, had to start over again, got frustrated, blah blah blah but they almost always got back to work and were able to make something. Obviously I'm not bringing this up to suggest that boys are naturally stronger emotionally; but I feel as though they don't fear failure as much as the girls do. My assessment of the situation, as Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor in Analytical Mode, is that these boys, raised on Edison's "I have not failed not once I've discovered ten thousand ways that don't work," don't need to be as afraid. Most girls, and some women for that matter, feel that they must constantly prove themselves. This is self-conscious; I find myself doing it. We live in a society where women are and have been for centuries less-valued then men. Here are very young girls feeling the pressure of it.

And so there I sit in a hallway with these kids trying to think of a way to impart my Grumpy Worn-Out Teenage Feminist Counselor wisdom in them, trying to find a way to let them know they shouldn't be so hard on themselves, trying to tell them they should be incredibly proud of what they've already accomplished. I don't know if I made any kind of difference.

There's Angry Mermaid with her "Free Pussy Riot" T-shirt, and there's my answer. There's the kind of thing I should've told them:

Girl you're a star,
Girl you're my star,

Where it's at is where you are.


  1. hello, you are very great. (:

  2. OH.MY.GOD. You're my new favourite blog. AAAAAAHH I love this so much! Hope I don't sound stalker-ish! But this post is great. I'm following x

  3. That poster is amazing, I want to stick it on the face of every small child I see (as an educational tool, not to like suffocate them or anything)<3