International Day of the Girl is not one of the more well known holidays but it is an important one. Taking place on October 11th, Day of the Girl was started to bring awareness to the trials faced by girls. Yes of course steps have been taken to equal the playing field, but the fact is that many girls still face incredible obstacles and barriers. The day started as a youth lead movement to shed light on things such as underage marriage, inaccessibility of education, and barriers in the job market. The activists that organize the events – all ranging around 17 years old but some are even younger – work to emphasize raising girls in healthy environments and with a supportive community.
So how does that affect the average little girl in Berwyn? Well, it’s important for girls to know they can be heroes, can stand up for themselves, that they can be weird or sporty or heroic or vulnerable or strong. It’s important to show little girls that they can be whatever they want to be, no matter how odd what they want may seem to you. And since it has been studied that movies impact our sense of the world and our sense of self, maybe taking a day to watch a movie about a brave hero who also happens to be a girl could go a long way to helping your own girl believe in herself. When it comes to brave girls and heroes, these movies are fun to pop in and kid friendly – and may even inspire a conversation about what your little girl wants from her life.
Lilo and Stitch
This classic Disney movie about an alien looking for a family is also an important study in girlhood. The movie hinges around the importance of family, so naturally, when Stitch crash lands on Earth, he is immediately adopted. The movie makes an interesting choice to drop Stitch into a family that is only made up of two orphaned sister: older sister Nani and young Lilo. Lilo, for all her charm and love, is an outcast among the girls her age. She does things like keeping voodoo dolls of her friends in a pickle jar, locking herself in her home and blasting Elvis Presley music to feel better, and coming up with a tragic backstory for a doll. Despite how over-dramatic Lilo’s oddities are Nani never tries to change Lilo and often celebrates her uniqueness. Nani, for her part, is hard working and honest. She puts Lilo before everything and works hard to keep her small family together. When celebrating girlhood, Lilo and Stitch is a fantastic movie to look to, a movie that makes it clear that it’s ok for girls to be silly and odd and strong and to value the bonds of family.
A modern day retelling of the classic radio show and musical, Annie is just as important now as she was decades ago. This version of Annie, starring trailblazer Quvenzhané Wallis, puts a focus on the impact the foster system has on young girls. At one point in the movie, Annie is prompted to read a speech aloud and storms off. She reveals to a heart broken Mr. Stacks that because of her time in foster care, she fell through the cracks in school and never learned to read. Considering the fact that girls still face barriers to education even today – the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai being the most popular example – it’s an important topic. Mr. Stacks and Miss Grace raise Annie and all the foster girls in her home up, allowing them to flourish and thrive and ultimately find families. On top of that, well – it’s just a really cute movie and Quvenzhané and Jamie Foxx play off each other fantastically.
Bend it Like Beckham
It’s easy to overlook this movie as nothing but a silly sports movie, but Bend It Like Beckham actually focuses on important topics relating to girlhood. Namely, the treatment of girls in sports. It’s true many women have broken into the the sports world but there are still barriers. In this comedy, the focus is put on the struggles of Jess as she navigates playing soccer and her desire to go to college. Jess faces much backlash from a cultural standpoint because of her family’s views on how a woman she act. Added to this are her struggles and the struggle of her father to be accepted in the world of sports because of their race. The movie focuses on the changing landscape and how many conservative views of sports and women were forced to change as women started making a mark for themselves in the world. The ending is, naturally, a happy one, where Jess’s parents start to accept that they must change for the sake of their daughter’s happiness.
Easily the most serious look at sexism in this list, Whale Rider is a modern day classic and enjoyable movie nonetheless. While it’s not exactly the most obvious pick for a movie night with your young daughter, it is still kid friendly. At the very least, this writer enjoyed it a lot as a girl, if only because of my unhealthy obsession with whales. The movie focuses on a girl named Pai, whose family was killed several years before the movie takes place. Pai is the heir apparent of her people’s clan as she is descended from the whale rider Paikea, but cannot inherit this title because she is a girl. Pai spends much of the movie fighting with her grandfather over what she views as her destiny. Her grandfather blames her for many things including the deaths of her family, being better than the boys around her, and a whole host of things that aren’t actually Pai’s fault. The constant criticism weighs on Pai and she moves out of her grandfather’s home. Despite this, Pai remains determined to prove that she is a capable leader. The movie earned lead actress Keisha Castle-Hughes an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. At age 13, she was the youngest person ever nominated for the award – until Quvenzhane Wallis broke the record a few years later at age 9.
written by: kassie