Last weekend I took my two sons to see Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3. We don’t let our kids watch too much TV, but they still love Buzz Lightyear and Woody. And who wouldn’t – spacemen and talking cowboys? Awesome! But my leadership hat came on right after intermission when the heroines of the show, Barbie and the cowgirl started talking about love and wanting to be wanted by someone else. Here was Buzz flying through the air saving the universe and Woody taking a stand to stay by the child that loved him for 18 years, and the girl toys were only wanting to be held and loved. Barbie did save the day in the end, when she sexually allured Ken in her Barbie workout gear. What is this teaching our young children?
I am not a feminist, but what message did this tell all the young girls and boys in the audience? I was sad to see that these children were learning a harsh lesson: the media sees a woman’s value and power in her sexuality and beauty – not in how wonderfully smart she is or what her capacity of leadership may be. I could not help but think which little girl out there will remember Disney on Ice for years to come as she tries to look just like Barbie, focusing more on her make-up and every calorie than one day being president or a CEO? And what about all the black children out there that saw all the cute blonde girls in sexy clothes? Not one Barbie skater had dark skin. How sad.
As a woman leader, even with a successful business and wonderful family, every morning I look in the mirror and scrutinize a wrinkle or dimple, so I am just as guilty. I once calculated that the amount of time I spent from 13 to 23 worrying about my weight and looks was about 2 hours a day, or 7,300 hours. Over 300 days of my life, nearly an entire year, which could have been studying science or learning a foreign language, were spent in front of the mirror or on a scale.
For 2012, my leadership pledge is to help 12 young women lead with their hearts and minds and feel empowered to take on a leadership position in the community. If you have not seen Miss Representation yet, it is well worth the 2 hours. While women have made great strides, we can’t let up. Join me in making a pledge to help our future women leaders. Sign the Miss Representation pledge at http://missrepresentation.org/. Stay tuned for more, as She Leads is signing up to take the corporate pledge in 2012.