Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preconceived Pink Box

My name is Marci and this is my last semester here at UCF. I am an Interdisciplinary Studies Major and minor in Political Science. I love people! I love to help people and feel like I am making a difference. I hope to continue my education and get a M.A. in International Relations, and make the world a better place. I truly believe that you must be the change you wish to see in the world! I have previously taken two Women’s Studies courses: Introduction to Women’s Studies and Third Wave Feminism. Both of these courses opened my eyes to a world unknown and have given me strength I did not even realize I possessed. I am taking this course to fulfill my requirement for Humanities as well as broaden my education in Women’s Studies. I greatly enjoyed my two previous courses and expect the same will be said about this one.

I believe that Sittenfeld effectively captures girlhood for the most part. I could not personally relate to her story in the sense that I was never the girl who ran fast, or threw a ball hard. I am not athletically inclined at all. The parts of girlhood that I can associate with that Sittenfeld portrayed were the constant feelings of never feeling beautiful enough. Sittenfeld at one point states that “everything about you is horrifying: your voice, body, hair, inability to be witty and panicky desires for approval and companionship (5)”. This quote sums up girlhood in my opinion. Every girl goes through that “awkward” stage as many like to put it, where everything is truly horrifying. For me that was about 13, I was overweight, had mangy hair, and braces. I was so insecure. I believe that girls are always trying to win the approval of not only other girls but boys as well. Girls have the innate desire to be noticed, to be called beautiful. We try in our own awkward way to relate to boys and find common ground, but as we journey through girlhood the gap gets wider. At the end Sittenfeld dreams of old times in elementary school when running a timed mile dreaming where “for a minute, in the sunlight, they smiled at you, and you smiled back as if you all had something in common (10).”

From the time girls are born they are given this preconceived idea of who they are to be. From the moment of celebration of a little girl everything is all pink and frilly. As children we are given Barbie’s, puppies, make-up, and anything else pink and “girly” to play with because that is who we are suppose to be. We are not supposed to be interested in catching a ball; after all, it might mess up our newly manicured hands.

The stories in Red show real girls whose struggle in their childhood had such a profound effect on their future. The girl in the first story talks about her love affair with a rock. She talks about how the boys worked harder “craving approval and praise from the crowd” while the girls “stuck to the intermediate wall, climbing about three-fourths of the way up and falling down” (177). This is a perfect example of the typicality of the girl playing the innocent, weak victim, needing to be rescued by the big, brave boys. We are teaching our girls that helplessness is the norm. But, one girl broke away from the preconceived notions not only gaining confidence and strength in her path, but also discovered who she was.

In another story Jaclyn starts by sharing her desire to be a doctor inspired by her own woman pediatrician. Her desire intensifies when her mother was assaulted and put into the hospital. It was hard for her to see her mother so helpless, when she viewed her as this strong, fighter. She decided that she no longer wanted to just sit there helpless in a hospital and never would again, and even began volunteering at hospice. The experience she went through and images in her head haunt her everyday, enough so that she took immediate action.

I love the story “The Management” the girl tells her story of working in a pizza shop and how her male boss treated her. I love how she stated “you taught me about the type of person I never want to be (197).” Our childhood and girlhood will either teach us who we are to be or who we do not want to be. As teachers, mothers, and friends we need to encourage the young women in our lives. We need to support their ambitions in all aspects whether they aspire to be a make-up artist or go into the military and fight for our country. It is time we break out of the little pink box we are so use to and just let girls be themselves, not who our society believes they should be. Girls will never feel confident with who they are, but we must teach them to embrace and love who they are, for what they are.


Jess said...

Hi Marci! I was wondering where I can find the PDF. for Red. I cannot seem to find it and I hope that you can help me. Thank you so much.

Your classmate,


rinaresca said...

Hi Marci, I can relate to your analysis of the reading thus far. Sittenfield does an excellent job capturing the daunting and discouraging experiences many girls deal with throughout their adolescence and how in turn our lives are affected in the future. Just like the anecdotes of Red shed light on the way girls' experiences, no matter the apparent significance, mold their worldview and their attitudes toward themselves.
Your metaphor of the "preconceived pink box" is apropos to the subject of girls' studies because girls are probably the most targeted and most vulnerable group exploited by our capitalistic tendencies. And by trying to take ownership of girls via media, school systems, and legislation they fall victim to what you refer to as the preconceived pink box. Let's help them find their way out rather than perpetuating any further damage.

rinaresca said...

Also, one of your comments sparked a question. You say girls have the innate desire to be noticed, to be called beautiful. I wonder how much is really inherent and natural human desire for validation and how dramatically that is perpetuated by severe pressures regarding appearance in our culture, ESPECIALLY for females.
Think about it, what is the first department in almost every shopping chain?
The make-up aisle

mhendrix said...

Hi Jess,

The PDF was linked on the syllabus the teacher sent out here is the link:"your+life+as+a+girl"+sittenfeld&source=bl&ots=9_SqOHJGWp&sig=ea9bkP09DT7sCBaPuTIt-nJoD7Y&hl=en&ei=1OFSSpn4DqTIMpm4kf4I&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=%22your%20life%20as%20a%20girl%22%20sittenfeld&f=false

Read the first Chapter entitled "Your Life as a Girl" starting on page 3. The other reading is in the book "Red" one of our required books. There is no PDF for Red, there is two different readings.

1. Chapter 1 of the link posted above
2. Pages 177-208 in our book "Red"

Hope this helps!

Jess said...

Thank you so much! It did help.

mhendrix said...

Hi Marina,

Thanks for pointing that out, your right. I do not think it is innate, but more taught and learned. It is a desire to be accepted by society and fit into those standards. There are severe pressures regarding appearance in our culture and sadly it are the girls and the generations to come that will have to carry this heavy burden unless something changes!

Misty Black Coltune said...

Hi Marci,

I have taken both of the courses you have and enjoyed them also. I feel they gave me more strength and insight. I have trouble explaining the courses to males that I know because they feel very left out and talk about how masculine roles are enforced upon them. I could relate to being told to "pipe down" and fade into the background. Sittenfeld certain describes the awkward stage to the point that most of could probably relate to some aspect of it. I now forget which story it appears in but the whole fairytale aspect is interesting because like the movie "Enchanted" with Amy Adams, we learn to ask questions about the male we've been persuaded to seek out and marry.