I saw a book advertised on http://www.amightygirl.com today called “Strong is the New Pretty – A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves.”
Strong is the New Pretty. What an awesome message to send little girls. As I edited some photos from Wyokiddo’s final Pee Wee soccer game, I realized how far we’ve come, as women, in terms of how we view ourselves and how was ask others to view us.
I grew up a tomboy. My favorite sport was soccer. Across a league of more than 100 kids in my grade level, I’d say there were less than 10 girls in the league. My best friend and I were two of them. We played with boys and were coached by men. Always men. Same with baseball and basketball. The girls were often treated as second-class citizens, usually plunked on the bench to wait for the boys to run up the score or shoved in the outfield because they boys had the infield covered.
I once asked a soccer coach if I could please play offense in one game. He told me something like “I have to have girls on my team. I don’t have to let you lose the game for us.”
Never mind that some of us were, GASP, actually talented, or HORROR OF HORRORS, actually better than the boys.
I knew I was facing an uphill battle. I had wonderfully supportive parents that never forced their square peg daughter into the round mold society tried to dictate. But my dad was upfront with me, telling me things like “A lot of men my age aren’t used to tough little girls that like sports. They don’t think you can do it. Keep working and prove them wrong.”
At first, the uphill battle didn’t bother me so much. But after years of going to every practice, working my butt off and still not getting a chance, I sort of lost heart. I knew I wasn’t as good as a lot of the boys. But I also knew I was better than a lot of them, too.
Luckily, I found horses. I had a strong, independent woman as a riding coach that didn’t take anybody’s grief. In her and the other girls I rode with, I found my tribe. I think that’s one of the reasons I loved riding and showing horses so much. It didn’t matter if I was a girl. I was judged on my abilities and performance, not my genes. And everywhere I turned in the horse show world were encouraging, supportive, kind women and men. We competed, but we were all a family, too.
Now, some thirty years later, Wyokiddo is playing soccer. She has a team of six, and four of them are girls. Her coach this year is a woman, and she is awesome. Coach Kaitlyn has helped the kids improve some basic skills and introduced them to concepts like offense and defense and making stops.
I know there will come a point in time where Wyokiddo will be told “Girls can’t do that!” or not treated the same because she isn’t a boy. But I love that her introduction to sports is filled with girls and women alike showing the world that yes, yes we can. And that strong really is the new pretty.