The Power to Empower Children

Laura-Jane here, newly renamed Laura-Jane Wallace after my wedding! The farm that I got married on was a home to two young girls between the ages of seven and ten. They love and admire brides, (usually from a distance), but never the less I was happy to have them there on the day. The event planner (who is their aunt) told me that the girls thought I was a princess, and at one point during the day I waved at them and they were thrilled to feel so special.

It hit me again, like it always does when I go to parties, that young girls are craving role models. This is the main reason I emailed Amy last January asking to be a part of Enchanted Fables. Acting is passion of mine, dressing up as a Princess fulfills every childhood dream, but children’s education is where my passion lies in this business. So I hope to write a few blogs on aspects of childhood education and drama education to help you see how we can raise a generation of empowered young girls and boys.

Seeing women rise to fame by their talent or beauty, and in turn using their new platforms to spread positive or socially pressing messages has always been inspiring to me. A great example of this is the new Miss Universe, Ashley Callingbull, a Cree woman from Alberta who has wasted no time in calling out racism that politicians have displayed.

Callingbull states on social media:

“People think I’m too political for my first day as Mrs. Universe. Did you really think I was going to just sit there and look pretty? Definitely not. I have a title, a platform and a voice to make change and bring awareness to First Nations issues here in Canada. I’m getting all this media attention and I’m going to use it to the best of my ability. I’m not your typical beauty queen. Look out… I have a voice for change and I’m going to use it!” – Ashley Callingbull (August 31, 2015)

Ashley Callingbull

When I walk into a birthday party, a hospital or community event, I am a child’s hero; possibly just because I’m a pretty Princess, but because of that, they will listen. This is why I have to consciously choose what I am saying to children. For instance, I will try to comment on how kind or courageous a young girl is, opposed to focusing on how pretty her birthday dress is. I will encourage boys to choose whether they want to be a fairy or a pirate, a princess or a superhero, instead of assuming they want to be the traditional masculine role. We let girls play with swords and boys wear crowns. We try to be gender inclusive by saying, “OK everyone!” instead of, “OK guys!” There are so many things we do and say by habit because of the society we have been brought up in, and I want to challenge all of you to think critically about what you choose talk about with children.

When a young girl says, “Snow Princess I have pretty braids like you!” I respond, “Do you love your siblings like me too? Are you kind and brave like I was when helping my sister?” These kinds of comments make the child think about wanting to possess the qualities of the Snow Princess, rather than the looks. These things that we do and say are small, but I hope they have a impact on each child, and that these young girls can grow up in a society with more value on the qualities one possess over their looks.

I want to leave you with this beautiful poem I came across that captures how sorry I am for my past ignorance, but how there is so much hope for the future:

“I want to apologize to all the women
I have called pretty
before I’ve called them intelligent or brave.
I am sorry I made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is the most you have to be proud of
when your spirit has crushed mountains.
From now on I will say things like, you are resilient
Or, you are extraordinary.
Not because I don’t think you’re are pretty
but because you are so much more than that.”

– Rupi Kaur

– Laura-Jane Wallace
Creative Director/Performer

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