I love heels – the higher, the better. The color pink is one of my favorites. I could spend hours shopping for useless hair products, overpriced makeup and designer purses. I use the word “cute” to describe anything that I deem favorable. I enjoy the occasional mani-pedi at my local nail salon. I cry over chick flicks, … sometimes. I giggle. I read “Cosmopolitan” religiously. I want boys to hold the door for me and pull out my chair and offer to carry heavy things. I am a girl.
But, being a girl isn’t easy. Just ask feminists.
For decades, women have had to fight for equal rights. These women paved the way for future generations of women. They made it acceptable for us to be firefighters and police officers and journalists and construction workers. They opened the doors to higher education. They gave us the right to vote and the right to be political leaders. They gave us the right to be strong and independent-minded. They obliterated the term “weaker sex.”
Despite all of that progress, however, there is still a lot of pressure on women today.
Now, some people believe that all women
should shun all the fuzzy, pink stereotypes that I hold so near to my heart. These people think these things have inexplicably become associated with flightiness and a lack of ambition and complexity.
Take, for example, the newest muppet joining Elmo and the rest of the “Sesame Street” gang. On Aug. 22, PBS introduced a new character into the show’s 37th season: Abby Cadabby. She’s pink and fuzzy and has sparkly hair and a magic wand. She’s a fairy-in-training. Her catchphrase is “That’s so magic!”
Immediately, controversy erupted.”New York Daily News” columnist Lenore Skenazy called her “the Gisele Bundchen of the preschool set,” and said that her character was “exactly the kind of sugar and spice stereotype you’d hope “Sesame Street” wouldn’t stoop to.”
Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, had this to say about Abby: “The last thing little girls need is one more pink fairy.” She says, “My understanding is that she’s a little incompetent with her magic, too. I’m concerned that now even the Sesame Workshop has bought into the girly-girly commercialized image of what it is to be feminine. They could have had an Asian girl, they could have had a girl who’s really good at math. They could have had someone who’s just more complex.
“But, despite her pink, fuzzy, sparkly appearance, Abby is more complex.She has a distinct personality. She’s three-years-old and very talkative (except around strangers – sometimes she gets shy). She’s ambitious.
She’s learning to be a fairy godmother, just like her mom, who does the job fulltime. She works hard. She can turn things into pumpkins, but she’s not so hot at turning them back. She’s an individual – one of only five other female muppets on the street where the air is sweet.I think the Abby Cadabby debacle is not that uncommon for the modern woman.
The line between “being feminine” and “being feminist” is becoming more and more blurred, as evidenced by the fact that a pink puppet on a children’s television show can start a national controversy.
But I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to be a girl.It’s OK to rock the stilettos and splurge on the occasional M.A.C lip gloss or a Louis Vuitton hand bag. It’s all right to cry over “The Notebook” and get excited when you see the latest issue of “Marie Claire” or “Glamour” sitting in your mailbox. It’s even acceptable to ask your boyfriend to help you move that heavy dresser in your bedroom when you get the urge to redecorate.
Just don’t forget – it’s not all about the pink sparkles.
Erica Palan can be reached at