Sia’s mom always gifts her a pink frock every birthday. When Sia demanded cargo pants, her mom lost her cool. “What!!! To look an alley cat?”
My aunt brings me high-collared tops ‘to hide my jutting shoulder bones’ and tells me to rub raw, sliced potatoes on my ‘dark’ skin.
I love my aunt. But I won’t do as she bids.
This as I love my copper-coloured skin that is close enough to Cleopatra’s. I think so at least. And my collarbones, the way they are.
Manav, our classmate, says his dad scolds him for sitting atop monkey bars instead of doing push-ups, crying when hurt and thinking a quarterback to be a person with much of his back missing.
Both Sia and I hate that colours, toys, games, books, movies and clothes set apart boys and girls.
We agonise over ‘cannot’, a word that can drain girls of their hopes.
What if girls can interrupt, argue and refute? Outstretch their arms and legs? Go with a ‘can do’ attitude?
We let these thoughts settle in our minds. Wouldn’t that be something!!!
We then make up our minds to be breakaways…throwers away of rules.
We will strain, we will stretch and we will be unpredictable.
We will do things ourselves, not have others do them for us.
Speak up, not apologise for airing our opinions.
Be indestructible as boys, not quieted within a pre-determined matrix.
Measure up, not stay stuck. Feel complete, not shuffled off.
How will this play out? We wait with bated breath to find out.
Girls who took part in a recent study by the prestigious journal Science identified Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Spock and Sheldon Cooper as ‘smart’.
They did not name a single woman as ‘brilliant’.
The study showed girls to distance themselves from activities they see ‘as not for them’.
Ouch! These divisions pain Sia and me. It rattles us so.
At eleven, we decide the best way to come by answers to the vexing girl-boy divide is to go searching.
We talk to people and find no real girl-boy differences exist.
We see first-hand we shin up walls and do math better than boys in our class.
And boys create pieces of needlework far superior to our ugly patchwork.
So our clear-eyed awareness turns us into ‘we-know-it-all’ girls and ‘little miss tisn’ts!’
These are our first shouts of rebellion. No more wheedling timidity for us.
We know we will succeed in many things we try. We will fail too.
Our comfort will lie in having failed after trying, not because we did not. It will make us try harder, not give up.
Ma, who knows a thing or two about tween girls, reassures us. “Girls you can do it all and then some.”
“Pursue anything you want. What you believe is what you become. Find your own answers,” she says.
Though she is a no-frills person, she is our rock star. Our balm and buffer.
We learn in class a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex will hardwire us to our interests at this age.
How cool is that!!! Sia announces she will be a scientist. I opt to be a geologist.
This as she dreams of test tubes with simmering liquids and I love my stones.
These are ideas lit up in our own minds… our own choices… not impositions.
We know we will make mistakes as we lollop along the way, clumsy as we both are.
We know we will change our minds, young as we are.
Our success, Sia says, will not lie in not falling. But in rising every time we fall.
Sounds an absurd quantity of knowledge for two small souls?
Never trust the teller, trust the tale.
So why not join the dots? Test the truth yourselves?
Oomna at 11
Oomna at 8
Squashing ideas of bossy boots and wimps
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Living out our girlhood differently
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