I take my role as founder of Girls on the Run very seriously. I realize that I am and will be, throughout the remainder of my life, a role model for many, many young girls. The cards and letters I get are beautiful and at times overwhelmingly open…I can literally feel the love put onto the paper from those amazing 8 year old hearts, souls and minds.
I remember several years ago…I was going out on a date. My kids were at their dad’s house for the weekend and so I did my best to dress date-esque. Typical attire for me usually means jeans and a t-shirt, but for some reason, on this particular date, I made the decision to sassify myself more than usual…a lower-cut than I would normally wear shirt, pair of jeans, heels, “fixed” hair and accessories my fashionista daughter would be incredibly proud of.
My date arrived. We chat and decide upon a fabulously upscale and trendy restaurant. We arrive, we go in and lo and behold if there aren’t four Girls on the Run families off in a corner of the restaurant.
“Hi Molly!” One mom shouts. “Come over here, I’d like you to meet my daughter.”
I walk over and we chat for a minute…but I am not there at all…not really. I’m freakin’ out about what I’m wearing, how that will come across and what message I may be sending to this girl and her family. I nearly forget my date’s name and eventually fumble over to a very disjointed introduction.
As we walk away, I immediately turn to my date and state in a voice that says I really mean this, “We have to go”. I just couldn’t be wearing my uber-sassified date-self in such close proximity to the parents and children of our Girls on the Run program.
I read this and I admit…I sound totally paranoid. “Come on Molly. Give yourself a break, will ya? I mean it is important to model a healthy work/life balance…all that stuff we read about in magazines that says women can have it all and be it all;” but the truth is there still rests, at times more strongly than at others, within me this conflict between my mother-self and my sassy-woman-self; my hard-line-old-school feminist self with this newer more be-yourself-whatever-feels-right-to-you-feminist self. Many of you walked through the “Naked Face Journey” with me several months ago and these issues were discussed, among literally thousands of women, in a very open and sometimes painfully revealing manner.
I say all this because lately there has been a great deal of discussion around Katy Perry’s new movie. It is a huge hit in movie theaters with “tweenage” girls attending….in droves. Dressed in candy-fied outfits and pink hair streaks, they arrive prepared to be inspired by the baring it all lollipop girl herself. The movie isn’t all sparkles and frosty cakes. It inspires. It tells her truth. And those are values I have to honor and do honor everyday both within myself and all of the amazing women and men associated with the work that I do.
And so if I tell my truth to you now, I admit that, it can still, at times, be pretty confusing trying to determine where my sexual identity plays out in my life. I know I’m not alone in that confusion. I hear it a lot…from my colleagues, my running buddies and the moms involved in our program. From the early days of girlhood right on up into our 50’s and 60’s and 70’s, the mixed messages exist There are days I think I’ve landed into a totally healthy space and then there are other days, I simply have no idea of what healthy is or looks like…especially when it comes to parenting, not only my children, but my younger self who was never allowed to participate in any kind of open, nonjudgmental and honest dialogue on the topic.
But I do know this…that by opening up and being boldly honest about our culture’s confusion and mixed messages on the topic, as well as our own, we are freeing up space for our girls to discuss the topic without fear, shame or ridicule. Instead of harshly judging the Katy Perrys, Britney Spears and Taylor Momsens, we instead choose to ask the hard questions as to why they, along with many girls and women, are trying so hard to figure out how much or how little sexuality plays into our woman-life experience.
I don’t know. I do know that figuring it all out is part of the journey…
(Your comments on the topic are totally welcome…as a matter of fact encouraged.)