Hallelujah! Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, author of Lean In (a must-read for anyone rearing girls) and founder of Leanin.org has teamed up with the Girl Scouts of America to launch a celeb and power-packed campaign entitled BanBossy (banbossy.com), looking to ban the use of the word "bossy" when describing little self-empowered girls. She has enlisted Beyoncé, Diane von Furstenberg, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Jennifer Garner, to name a few, to share their messages about the word "bossy." This makes me want to scream Hallelujah from the mountaintops!
I happen to be a mother of a two girls. The older one is a fierce gymnast who has the loveliest spirit, gets along beautifully with just about everyone and is very amenable. The little one, less so. She is a perfect gem just like her big sister. How she is different from many is that she has a very high self-empowerment quotient, similar to that which you would traditionally find in the dominant elements of our culture: white men. My husband and I just love it! Why shouldn't she be confident and completely unfazed by her or other kid's gender, race or position in society? She stands firmly on two feet, is thoughtful and speaks her mind. What is wrong with that, right? Well, she is the girl that others, especially boys, call "bossy."
Sheryl Sandberg points out that we call our girls bossy and that -- make no mistake -- there is certainly a negative connotation that comes with the use of the word, that our society values likeability over leadership in girls, and that bossy is only the first B-word these girls are called. When they get older, especially when they find themselves in professional environments, that B devolves into "bitchy."
We are conditioned to avoid at all costs being considered unlikeable, and because our leadership comes with that pitfall, leadership loses out time and time again. Worse yet, in my opinion, not only leadership loses out. We all lose out. When we thwart who we naturally are, not only do we lose out (we literally lose ourselves!), but the world loses the opportunity to be the recipient of our gifts.
I see it as my job as mom to help my girls be who they naturally are and to live out their lives, not those that "they" have prescribed are acceptable for her. I see it as part of my job as a media professional to help girls see positive images of themselves and to help young women become more of what they want to be. So when I saw Sandberg's campaign, I had to immediately jump on the bandwagon. After all, I had already banned the word bossy from our family's lexicon. So, ban bossy in yours, go to banbossy.com to learn more and share the message! #banbossy