Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glamorous Women

Most girls are five going on thirteen, twelve going on twenty and sixteen going on twenty-five. They want to dress older, wear more make up and read grown-up magazines.

This month Glamour Magazine has given us, adults and girls, a grown-up magazine article that we can all get behind - the 2009 Women of the Year. The women honored show us how to be glamorous without mascara and without stilettos but with inner strength and perseverance. Their stories can teach girls important lessons while allowing them a moment in that grown-up world they so much want to be a part of. To help get that conversation started, here's a little commentary on just two of the women honored this year. 

First Lady Michelle Obama is from a less than ritzy background yet pulled herself up by her own (very stylish) bootstraps to earn a law degree from Harvard University. She exudes the ideal of choice, having chosen a career when it made the most sense for her and choosing to be a full-time mother and wife when that made the most sense. Regardless of our personal preferences about careers and family, we can encourage girls to make their own decisions about their future, to be independent and to do what is best for them, just as Michelle has done. Her personal style, which has been compared many times to the famous Jackie O, provides another important teaching point: you can look beautiful and be fashionable while being modest and tasteful. Michelle's many fashion-forward outfits, bright colors and impressive accessories make her a great example of how class and style can mesh perfectly. Finally, when using Michelle as a teaching point, don't forget to mention, she is the National Honorary President of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Rihanna is now best known for her struggles with domestic abuse but girls knew her for her music even before then. The pop-idol demonstrates to girls that domestic abuse is sometimes a reality even for the coolest, most confident girls and women. Use Rihanna's experience to talk to girls about domestic abuse, both physical and verbal, to help them identify it and to educate them about how to stop it. (For  insights about how girls reacted to Rihanna's experience, read results from the Girl Scout Research Institute.) Beyond abuse, Rihanna can also teach girls how to take a terrible thing and use it to make a difference in the world. It may have been scary for her to speak so publicly but because she has, many women may now be better educated and more able to end or avoid abusive situations. Remind girls that to impact the world, they cannot be silent observers; they must lead by example and speak up.

Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year can provide many important lessons - that are potentially cool and grown-up since they come from one of the hottest women's magazines. The women are athletes, visionaries, peacemakers; clearly we've only just touched the tip of the iceberg here. If these lessons ring true to you, learn more about the women on or by watching the highlights from the event (above).

Go on, be glamorous.

-Cheryl Black

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