The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Olympic Ads Encourage Girls to Go for Gold

World cycling champion Victoria Pendleton and Olympic silver medallist Shelley Rudman have today launched ‘Girls4Gold’ - a mass recruitment drive for young athletic women by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport, aimed to uncover hidden talent with the potential to rise to the podium at London 2012 and beyond.

Olympic TV Ads are re-enforcing the Girls For Gold Message

Over the past few weeks, British TV adverts have been hijacked by Olympic Fever: washing powders will protect your Olympic colours, finding the gold sweetie will win you prizes, and (somehow) even junk food is linked to achievement in sport.

The more cynical among us would see this as the inevitable cash-in on the nation’s excitement, an opportunity for sales companies to up their profits by tenuously linking their product to the world’s oldest sporting event. However, I have been more impressed by the positive messages that this sporting enthusiasm is sending to girls in the UK. At every ad break, we’re being encouraged to get active. Companies sponsoring the Games are offering free promotional sports activities and equipment so that we can “have a go” instead of just sitting on the sofa and watching others achieve. 

This celebration of sport has particularly effected how women have been portrayed in our TV ads: young girls are shown participating in sports and the traditional TV mum is shown as nurturing the great sporting talents of the future. Most notably, there has been a shift in emphasis from beauty to strength as a key aspiration for girls. This has been most apparent in antiperspirant campaigns, since this is a product which has to acknowledge the unladylike fact that women do indeed sweat. 

This is the proud proclamation of the Sure For Women Maximum Protection campaign. The women are shown as confident and unashamedly strong. Although the models used are attractive, they are not concerned with simply being beautiful. There is no cheesy, glaringly white grin or coquettish looks; instead there are physically fit women who are clearly comfortable being themselves. 

Being encouraged to get fit and to be proud of our strength is certainly an advertising concept that Team Girl can get behind. I hope that this message of empowerment continues past the excitement of this summer’s Olympics and keeps our girls going for gold!

-Vhari Finch
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

If the shoe fits…?

KORS Michael Kors Kids Bianca Shoe (Toddler/Youth)

Recently there has been a growing trend in the fashion world to make our young girls more fashionable. And by more fashionable that means overly sexualizing them and making them look like young adults. One trend that has been rapidly growing is in popular designer shoes lines.  Suri Cruise was seen wearing a pair of gold, low-heeled shoes three years ago, and now it appears that heels for little girls outside the dress-up box are becoming more common. Most recently designer Michael Kors released a toddler/youth line that has caused a bit of attention. The line consists of leopard prints, two-inch kitten heels, wedges and all sorts of embellishments. Quite honestly, I'm sure I have pairs similar to these in my own closet.

Which clearly raises the question, are these types of shoes acceptable for young girls? Are we trying to make them grow up too fast? Should a 33-year-old and a 6-year-old be wearing the same style of shoes? When in the product information you have the quote "Add some grown-up glam to any outfit with these gorgeously sophisticated shoes," I think we have a problem. Not to mention that the shoes are shockingly listed for toddlers/youths? I shudder to think of what parent would put their toddler in a pair of leopard print two-inch heels. Why are we so keen to have our young girls quickly become young adults?

And what about the safety and developmental issues of our young girls wearing these heels? "The fact children can wear these is worrying," said podiatrist Gregor McCoshim. "Any heel above 2 cm increases the risk of twisting an ankle. Wearing them can cause strains in the back which is a potential problem for their growth and development." As an adult heel-wearer I can attest to the discomfort not only in the feet but in the back as well as numerous close-calls in the ankle-twisting-falling-on-face department. Why would we want this for our young girls sooner rather than later? As women we have been convinced that pain for the sake of fashion is worth it (which is a whole other debate) but is it worth it for a 6 year-old?

And Michael Kors isn't the only designer targeting our young girls. Jessica Simpson Kids and Steve Madden Kids also have lines of girl shoes that include heels. New Look has also come under fire in the recent past for making heels available in size 1 which would fit a young girl. Shockingly parents are divided over the issue. Reviewers for the designer lines of girl shoes have raved over how cute and trendy the heels are. "So cute my child saw them and as soon as possible she threw off her shoes and started strutting it. She was so cute. I bought them she would not take them off..." Do I want my child "strutting it?" "My 6 year-old loves them. The heel is perfect! Just high enough for little girls to feel girlie. They are her favorite." Is this how we want the next generation to view girlie-ness? Through overt sexualization? However there are some parents who still have concerns over the shoes. "These shoes are so cute. Unfortunately my mom said that I cannot get them as I am not allowed to wear heels." Now is the time for a reassessment of trends that shape the future minds of our young girls. Now is the time to shift the focus from sexualizing our young girls and causing pressure to grow up to celebrating this wonderful phase in their life called girlhood.

-Marisa Lindholm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home and Away: Girls of the British Empire

Girl Museum is thrilled to announce that our newest exhibition, Home and Away: Girls of the British Empire, is now open. Sixty years ago, a young Elizabeth became Queen of the largest Empire the world has ever known. And though the world has changed tremendously since then, life was and still is different for everyone and depends on who your family is, where they come from, as well as where you live.

Girls who lived in the British Empire were in many ways voiceless and vulnerable. It is significant to consider since millions of girls today are still affected by decisions made during this era. These girls live around the world in places like Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, East Asia, India, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and of course Great Britain.

Explore what life was like for girls throughout the British Empire, and visit the Home and Away: Girls of the British Empire exhibition. And remember, Girl Museum is always open and always free, so please tell your friends.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No Trespassing: It's Girl Property!

Andrea from Beirut, Lebanon in her room in 2010.
Photograph: Rania Matar / Umbrage

As I was browsing through the photographic project A Girl and Her Room, the memories of my own teenage shelter drifted along. It’s common secret that a girl’s room is nothing less than a sanctuary, in which there is an absolute need for privacy and free spirit. Actually, there isn’t another room in a family house where these privileges are completely allowed or enjoyed. This doesn't make parents dictators; it's just the simple hierarchy of the family system. The decoration, the furniture layout, the cleaning rules and the overall schedule are normally applied by the older members of the family. But in a girl’s bedroom, it’s time for some individuality to shine.

In there, you could almost certainly expect to come across walls chock full of posters, distinct personal photos, scattered beauty accessories, mirrors in key spots, fashionable clothes, and a strong imposition of colour. It’s rather trite to assume that a girlie room is going to be pinkish from top to bottom. Girls express themselves more irregularly in every placement and ornamentation within their bedroom, because it’s an extroverted declaration of their self-determination. So, they might as well arrange their private territory according to classic style, romantic ambiance, rock mood, a kind of minimalistic deco, or boho attitude. In any case, it is a clear reflection of their personality in conjunction with a room cut out for coziness and independence. 

The significance of a space comes from the importance of the hosted activities. All being well, a girl’s bedroom is where fundamental learning is explored, confessions are sealed, friendships are confirmed, and pastimes are experienced to the maximum. Even when privacy is not fully granted, something positive may come out as a result. For instance, I have always been very possessive about my stuff, so having a bedroom in common with my sister throughout our adolescence provided me with a good sense of compromise and coexistence (I still have a long way to go on these!). Among Rania Matar’s photographs, I have spotted one or two that closely match my shared room as teenager. Did you find a similar depiction to yours?

-Magda Repouskou
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hollywood Demographics Seek to Divide and Conquer

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

Although not officially released until July 3rd, critics are already giving Marc Webb's reboot of the Spiderman franchise a thumbs up. As I’m writing this, Rotten Tomatoes has scored The Amazing Spider-Man an impressive 91%, although admittedly that is only based on 11 reviews. Many of the reviews note that the film focuses more strongly on the characters than some other superhero/comic book adaptations. Timeout’s Dave Colhoun calls it a "romcom upgraded to include 3D and industrial cobwebs," and The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin calls it "the first superhero movie aimed primarily at women" before suggesting that it is perhaps "Twilight in spandex."

The Twilight comparison immediately made me roll my eyes because I'm not a fan of that particular franchise, for many of the reasons laid out by Miriam in her blog post, but it got me thinking about how films are marketed, particularly blockbusters. Marketers are always going to segment the general population; that’s their job. But is it too simplistic? By pitching films to entirely male or female demographics, marketers appear to be deliberately halving their potential audience. This strategy no doubt does make money, otherwise they wouldn't do it, yet it’s an approach that relies on hollow stereotypes: women like romance, men like explosions.

When I think of big blockbuster comic book adaptations, the two that spring to mind are The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK) and Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Both these franchises are box office and critical smashes and have been watched and loved by all genders. Yes, comic book audiences have typically been male-dominated, but men and women alike have embraced these films because of their intelligent plots, engaging characters, solid scripts, and exciting action scenes. These are elements that appeal to everybody, regardless of gender.

It is more than possible to create intelligent, exciting blockbusters that appeal to men and women alike without reducing either to shallow stereotypes. I hope that there will be more to come, including The Amazing Spider-Man.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Losing your temper in sport – is it a man thing?

David Nalbandian was disqualified from the Queen's final against Marin Cilic after kicking an advertising panel into a line judge's leg in a moment of frustration

Recently top tennis player David Nalbandian was disqualified from Queens Tennis tournament for kicking an advertising board into the shin of a line judge causing a gash in his leg. Even after apologising he will be fined and forfeit his runner-up prize, not to mention he disappointed hundreds of fans who had paid to see a full match but only got to see two sets before the match was halted. His reason for kicking the board? He lost his temper and was unable to control his emotions. He certainly was not the first sportsman to do so – remember John McEnroe and his ‘you cannot be serious’ rant or David Beckham and his red card moment of 1998? So I ask, is this just a man thing or do women also get this rage when losing games and sports?

After much searching there was only one female sportswoman that appeared on the temper tantrums lists and that was Serena Williams. Maybe the lack of women on these lists point to better control over our emotions - on the other hand maybe we prefer to stew over losing rather than let out all the frustration at once. I know from experience that not all women are graceful losers but we tend to refrain from showing this outwardly as it is less acceptable for a woman to lose her cool, whereas men are seen as more competitive and prone to violence or anger. If you were to witness me at a computer when it freezes however, you would seriously debate the lack of angry outbursts from a woman. I would love to know if anyone has any examples of when a woman has lost her temper when playing a sport as I am sure Serena Williams is not alone.

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Little Miss Vanity

Almost 2 year-old Eleanor June Rees-Sutherland

Ok, so your girl has an urge for beauty. But how far will a mother go to support that? And do parents even need to encourage it at a very early stage? These questions may not sound so tricky to answer, but there is a true story behind them that calls for deep contemplation.

A 23-month old (!) girl is going to participate in Miss Mini Princess UK, which is the first national beauty contest to be held in Leicester for little girls. Apparently her mother, Robyn Sutherland, regards it as quite natural to enter her not-yet 2 year-old daughter in this beauty pageant. She is the youngest ever contestant, thus provoking a lot of criticism. Even her dad has serious concerns about this experience as well as his daughter's constant use of make-up. Maybe there is "nothing wrong with wanting to look like a little princess for one day," but there is visible jeopardy when a girl is utterly obsessed with her looks. Eleanor June Rees-Sutherland is only a kid and already amazed at the glamorous effect of cosmetics; however, nail varnish and glossy lipstick aren't really reminiscent of childhood. Something is obviously wrong in this equation.

The worst case scenario is that all this girly femaleness will not fade out properly and it will cost her valuable playtime, hence a sane girlhood. I think it would be closer to normal if Eleanor June's parents focused on filling their daughter's photo album with more moments of her playing around unpretentiously, like the one above.

You can also read Jessica's recent blog, which is relevant to girls growing up too fast.

-Magda Repouskou
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Perfume or not to perfume?

People wear perfume for many reasons: for some a certain scent may provoke memories, maybe their grandmother wore that scent or it reminds them of a certain time in their life; others may use it as a form of individuality; and many believe the right perfume can help attract a partner. 

We all love a good perfume and certain smells can make us happier, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I like to go swimming once in a while and have, on several occasions, choked and spluttered as a great waft of heavy scent swims across my path. Why wear perfume in the pool?! Many people that overdo the heavy scent also end up transferring that smell onto their belongings. Now I can see how this may be sentimental in some cases – a scented jumper that still smells like someone you loved perhaps, but do people’s books and CDs really need to smell like them?

Heavy perfume is more of an old fashioned trend – in Louis XIV’s time it was merely used to mask the lack of hygiene. Now however, breathing in the scent of someone’s perfume is seen as more intimate, a smell that should be apparent only to those in very close contact with you.  Unfortunately this new perfume etiquette in the amount and strength of perfume people wear has not reached all sectors of society. Women of an older generation, for example, still stick to the same heavy scent they wore as a teenager and men under the age of 35 still seem to feel that the more scent the better – thanks to the 25 years of advertising by the Lynx marketing department. 

Sure, a heavy scent will get you noticed, but think about  all those people that you can’t go near after swamping yourself in chemicals because they’re allergic to them, never mind the fact that they will have difficulty breathing. Also remember that it is pheromones that primarily create the ‘chemistry’ between partners; the more perfume you wear – the less of you they get to smell.

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Workplace Fashion

Times are tough, and many people are seeking to get themselves an edge when seeking new work, a promotion, or a desire to stand out (in a good way) to their employer. One fast way of changing the way others perceive us is to dress to impress. A post on Above the Law recently interviewed Anna Akbari, a ‘thinking person’s stylist.’ Akbari’s advice here is specifically tailored towards those working in law; more specifically, women:
While most men are able to slip into a suit and head out into the world looking dapper as can be, women have to worry about their hair, their makeup, their Spanx, their heel height, their bra, their accessories, and most importantly, the social mores of their office.
Doesn’t seem entirely fair, does it? When talking about male workers in law, Akbari seems to assume that they are more powerful than their female associates, who should dress to please them and not themselves. But continuing to do that will just reinforce sexist stereotypes about women in the workplace; that appearance matters more than competence. It seems like something from a storyline in Mad Men.

We all judge others on appearance, and dressing in a manner that’s appropriate for your workplace, whatever that may be, is important. Until very recently, I was looking for employment and I spent a great deal of time choosing what to wear because I wanted to convey to the interviewers that I was a well put-together candidate. I’d like to think though that I was chosen for my competencies and not because I wore a skirt instead of trousers.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Perfect penmanship, no hands needed

Annie Clark, 7, who was adopted from China, holds the pencil between her forearms.
Larry Roberts/AP

7-year-old Annie Clark from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has won a national penmanship award despite being born with no hands. Zaner-Bloser Inc. recognized Annie at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin with its first-ever Nicholas Maxim Award. Annie received a trophy that was nearly as big as her and also a check for $1,000 from a textbook publishing company. After accepting her large trophy, she showed the crowd just how she goes about writing by holding a pencil between her forearms.  Of her writing skills, she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 'I think about doing words and spelling,' and has 'learned to go slow.'

But Annie hasn’t stopped with just excellent penmanship, she has learned to paint, draw and color.  She also swims, dresses, eats meals, opens cans of soda by herself, and uses her iPod touch and computers without assistance. Someday, she wants to write books about animals.  It is so inspiring to see a girl at such a young age to be seemingly unfazed by her disability.  This is girl is truly remarkable.  And it is no surprise given the supportive and loving family that she is a part of.  The girl's parents, Tom and Mary Ellen Clark, have nine children – three biological and six adopted from China, including Annie. Annie is one of four of the adoptees who have disabilities that affect their hands or arms. The Clarks also have an adopted child, Alyssa, 18, and a biological daughter, Abbey, 21, with Down syndrome.  "Each time, we weren't looking to adopt a special-needs child, but that is what happened," said Mary Ellen Clark, 48, of McKeesport. "This was the family God wanted for us."  "She's an amazing little girl," said Tom Clark, 49, who owns an automotive dealership. "It's a shame because society places so many rules on how people should look, but the minds of these kids are phenomenal."  Mary Ellen hopes the award encourages her daughter "that she can do anything."

The Nicholas Maxim Award is so named for an exceptional boy who, like Annie, was born with no hands. He received a unique award for his participation in Zaner-Bloser's 20th annual National Handwriting Contest.  Zaner-Bloser was so inspired by his ability they decided to create a new Special Needs award category in his honor, The Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship.  Now in its 21st year, the National Handwriting Contest is an annual event that Zaner-Bloser sponsors to promote legible handwriting. Open to any student in grades 1-8, the contest is free to enter. The contest has also seen an increase in popularity as it has continued to grow over the years.  Kathleen Wright, head of the company's handwriting department, told the Tribune-Review that the National Handwriting Contest has grown from about 20,000 entries to more than 325,000 in its 21 years.  In an age where children are becoming increasingly dependent on technology and typing on a keyboard is more commonplace, it is nice to know that there are still children out there priding themselves on and being recognized for their lovely penmanship.

-Marisa Lindholm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And the winning museums are…

Family activity at the Haslemere Educational Museum.

Besides International Museum Day, May also had the annual awards for outstanding European museums. 

For starters, the Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence were held on May 16th and the long list of winners is impressive. The Classic Award Winner for 2012 was the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, a real attraction for families and schools. Among many interesting categories, this year’s Educational Initiative Winner was All the King’s Fools, which was successful in its frankness, and was presented at Hampton Court Palace and performed exclusively by actors with learning difficulties.

The European Museum Forum announced May 19th the European Museum of the Year  was the Museo de Madinat al-Zahra in Cordoba, Spain. What a sublime introduction for kids to an archaeological site and a museum collection of artifacts! Other categories praised the interaction with local communities and volunteers, the transformation of the conventional display and several resourceful approaches.

Having been the Readers’ Award Winner at the Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence, Haslemere Educational Museum in Surrey was also the recipient of the 2012 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award. The latter, formerly known as the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award, is the most prestigious museum award in Britain solely judged by a team of families and co-supported by the Kids in Museums. Plenty of museums across the UK support the Kids in Museums Manifesto in practice, which is comprised by 20 family-centered recommendations to reveal the true essence of a pleasurable museum experience. 

In fact, this simple but meaningful guideline is in no way different from similar policies which should be taken into effect by all cultural institutions and art spaces. Being a good host is as uncomplicated as making the visitors feel welcome and enjoy themselves. The final winners and the short-listed museums above prove that they are on the right foot as regards the successful engagement of families. Once again, what's not to love about museums?

-Magda Repouskou
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Plight of the Former Alpha Female

In this Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 file photo former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waves to supporters from a prison window in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Ukrafoto, File)

To be a female leader is seen as a great achievement, something of a breakthrough. But what happens when that power and prestige is taken away? Among recent weeks all eyes have been on the Ukraine for various reasons - many of them football related - but also because former female prime minister and leader of the opposition Yulia Tymoshenko, who was imprisoned back in October, has been sent to hospital subsequent to going on a hunger strike and after allegations of abuse. The reason for her imprisonment relates to ‘abuse of office in the handling of gas negotiations’ a serious charge which holds much convenience for the opposition and holds a sentence of seven years. Usually I love to dissect the complexities of politics, the struggle for power, and the influence of corruption, but this case has so many twists and turns it is like trying to drive through thick fog. What this situation does highlight however is the vulnerability that follows when a powerful female loses that influence and control.

This is not a new phenomenon. Take Joan of Arc for instance, after leading armies and being seen as a French heroine she was later defeated and burned at the stake. Mary Queen of Scots was another woman promised for great power but who ended her days imprisoned before being executed. It seems the greater the power, the more enemy’s one makes and when the protection of power and influence is taken away the opportunity for people to act and take advantage is all too great. Not all stories end this way however and it’s not only alpha females that fall hard, men too fall foul of this vulnerable space after power.

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Girl Is Quite the Charmer!

Young snake charmer Emily Sobel, aka Serpentini.

You know how most people generally want to stay away from snakes?  Well not 7-year-old Emily Sobel!  Emily’s hobby is dancing with partner Rajnesh, a 3-foot-long Indian Trinket snake, making her the world’s youngest snake charmer.  Emily was born into a house that loved snakes, as her father Heath had snakes before she was even born.  Currently the Brooklyn natives have five snakes in their home – Rajnesh; Ghostface, the corn snake; Baller, the bull python; King Venom; a Reverse California King Snake; and two Florida Amel King Snakes named Moe and Icicle.  As far as how to handle serpents, Emily said she came up with her own technique after watching her father “20,000 times.”  “I keep them calm by just moving them around,” she said. “It’s like I take their cues and I just go the way they are. And you don’t hold them too tight.”

This natural ease and affinity for snakes at such a young age was noticed by Serpentina, renowned snake charmer on Coney Island and good friend of Stacey Sobel, Emily’s mother. The Sobel family had often frequented Coney Island and after Emily saw Serpentina’s stage performance, she decided that was what she wanted to.  When she was five, Emily had her first go on the stage after Serpentina suggested she take a turn on the stage.  Emily loved it, so much so that not even a snakebite by Rajnesh at the age of five could stop her from doing what she enjoys most.

Since making her debut, Emily has performed the opening weekend of the annual Coney Island summer, the Mermaid Parade, the motorcycle show, and the final weekend each year.  She also performs with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cavalcade of Youth, a traveling circus for performers under 21 years old, when that group is in town.  Emily’s first major gig however has been recently where she appeared as her stage persona, Serpentini, and worked 16 shows, eight each on Saturday and Sunday, at the annual Super Freak Weekend put on by the Congress of Curious People at  the Sideshows by  Seashore in Coney Island. This girl is so brave and with the loving support of her parents, no doubt will keep doing what she loves.  “I love this,” Emily said. “I just love snakes, so it’s fun. It’s my favorite thing to do in my free time.”

-Marisa Lindholm.
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How much alcohol is enough?

One of Anna Utopia Giordano’s pop bottles, part of an art project to raise social awareness on teen alcohol abuse.

Who doesn’t remember those banal phrases with which our parents used to escort us to the door as teenagers? ‘Don’t talk to strangers,’ ‘Don’t be late,’ ‘Don’t drink.’ And it’s only now as grownups that we get what they actually meant, isn’t it?

Despite the repeated warnings, probably some of us had a few forbidden sips at teenage parties. An innocent slip is one thing, while crossing the line into abuse is a very serious matter. Unfortunately the limits are overstepped intensively by underage drinkers and there are indications that girls keep up with the boys as regards this hazardous habit. There is an upsetting tendency towards drinking on behalf of the teens, even a precocious familiarity with liquor brands. As for the origins of alcohol dependence amongst teen girls, specialists underline the significance of psychological factors, such as stress and depression, the parent paradigm, as well as other common patterns manifested in the particular age range, like peer pressure and aping behaviour. Much the same goes for smoking. 

Recently a new dispute kindled in the UK, soon after Scotland went on to apply a minimum pricing for alcohol as a policy to prevent citizens from drinking. Some people argue that this measure will not make any difference on regional or national level and it’s likely that they’re right. Maybe societies need to start from scratch; a better policy in the long run would include a solid educational programme against alcohol misuse and rigid restrictions of spirits commercials. 

Alcohol binging can never turn out safe and it will surely ruin the fun. Because there is no better feeling than waking up in the morning with every single detail in mind of last night's gig or getting carried away by the sheer amusement you had with a bunch of good friends. Life is truly enjoyable when it's experienced in sobriety. Maybe girls just want to have fun, but they can definitely manage without the alcohol excess.

-Magda Repouskou
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Are Dancers Athletes or Artists?

Dancing is one of the top 5 most popular sports for women and yet those who choose it as a profession are still considered artists before they are referred to as athletes. This, I have discovered, is causing great controversy in the dancing community. As you will see in this video, dance is a sport that requires great discipline and ability, equalling and occasionally exceeding that required from many other sports where men dominate. Despite this many companies will not entitle dancers to the same levels of therapy and rehabilitation treatment after injury as other sportsmen and women.

No-one denies that dancers are not artists – their sport without question requires grace and skill to create a performance that pleases the eye and often sends a message or translates a story. However the physical demands and competition of the sport are often overlooked to the extent that they may be forgotten about as athletes. Maybe it is the fact, as with many other female dominated sports, they are just overshadowed by those involving more men, or is it assumed women cannot make a living by doing a very physical job?

The popularity of shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance have assisted in raising the popularity of dance and showcasing it as a means to get fit – but do they show dancers as athletes? Or are they just adding to the ideas that dance is just entertainment and an art form and not sport

-Emma Hatherall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strike a pose!

Steve McCurry’s portrait of a girl from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

When it comes to choosing art's form, the majority of people would most freely go with photography. If anything, it's the safest option and the most likely to initiate a direct relation with the viewer. Like all other art presentations, photography has long been inspired from girls and has provided us with some brilliant flashes of girlhood from all over the world.

One of the most legendary photographs ever and literally the most recognized photograph in the history of National Geographic magazine is the Afghan Girl, which was originally published as the front cover of the June 1985 issue. The portrait was taken by American photojournalist Steve McCurry and it wasn't until 2002 that the girl's identity was revealed. Another Afghan girl was recently the main theme in an admittedly cruel shot, captured by French photographer Massoud Hossaini. His photograph, depicting the overwhelming distress of the 12 year old Tarana Akbari after a blast in Kabul, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in the category of Breaking News Photography. 

Maro Kouri is a Greek photojournalist who has travelled and explored foreign cultures on a large scale. Her ample archive consists of engrossing "global stories," some of which plainly narrate the everyday moments of girls worldwide. The simplicity and frankness in children's photography was also a challenge for American photographer Nan Goldin. Her images are natural and spontaneous, which could be attributed to her familiarity with the photographed kids.

Photography drills a lasting impact on the viewer by means of directness and genuineness. Even when using disguised models, like the provocative photographer Cindy Sherman, best known as the"'Queen of the Self-Portrait," there is still a vigorous artistic statement. Girlhood is widely an authentic inspiration to photographers and the best confirmation of the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words."

-Magda Repouskou
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

On February 6th, 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary ascended the British throne upon the death of her father, George VI, and was coronated 16 months later on June 2nd, 1953. For 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II has served as the British Head of State, ruling over 12 different prime ministers (one served twice), and she is head of the 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations. She is also the second longest reining British monarch, behind Queen Victoria.

Elizabeth was only 25 when she ascended. In her lifetime, she has given birth to four children, has eight grandchildren, and currently has two grandchildren. She has witnessed the first man in space and the first moon landing, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, resignation of Richard Nixon, and the release of Nelson Mandela. In 1978 the first test-tube baby was born and in 1996 Dolly the sheep was the first successfully cloned mammal. She has been witness to the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. She saw the end of the Cold War and fall of the Berlin Wall, and watched with the world the Tiananmen Square protests. Beyond all that, Elizabeth has seen countless conflicts around the world, including World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, and the Gulf and Iraq Wars, to name just a few.

Through the deaths of her sister and mother and the marriages and divorces of her children, Elizabeth has served as Queen with dignity and grace. Not exactly politician nor celebrity, the British royalty occupies a unique space within the hearts and minds of the British public, and for nearly every day of her life, Elizabeth has been in the spotlight. Often pointed out as a example, the Queen has largely lived her life as a role model for young girls and women. She is polite and dignified, and if perhaps considered a bit stuffy, Elizabeth must walk a very fine line to represent her country and people in the best manner possible.

And yet her 86 years are not all trapped in the past. Her coronation was the first to be televised (including experimental 3-D technology), despite the misgivings of then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. And more recently, the royal family have a website, a Twitter and Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. In addition, the Queen has at least one iPod, a gift from President Obama in 2009 (it is believed she had previously purchased one in 2005), and is reported to have--and enjoy--a Nintendo Wii. 

For more on the Queen and her Diamond Jubilee, visit the official Diamond Jubilee website, which includes a timeline of events that have occurred during her lifetime.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.