Anya attended Camp Congress for Girls today. This is an informative and fun seminar for girls ages 8-15 years old. The attendees learn about the American government and political system, manage a campaign and run for a political seat, register to vote for their election at the end of the day, and sign a bill into law. She had an amazing time, and she successfully won her campaign for President. I was slightly jealous that adults could not attend.
I ensured that she was ready with pens and snacks, yet upon arrival I felt that I did not prepare her enough. She wore her usual clothes – rainbow stripe jean shorts, a rock band shirt, makeup, pink hair, and a light hoodie. As I watched the other girls arrive, they were dressed in more formal clothing and even business wear. I began to wonder if I should have insisted she wear something different, a little more formal and nice. I wondered if she noticed and wondered this, too.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was being ridiculous.
Anya was attending Camp Congress, not a nunnery. Her clothes would not impede her education or her enjoyment. A pair of shorts would not deter new friends. Her clothes and her style are what make up her personality, and she would need that to run a campaign. And she WON; obviously her pink hair did not cause anyone to think she would not be a successful leader. Her individuality actually aided her today.
Because although society disagrees, clothing and appearance do not change the person.
I know, I know…there are jobs and careers that require some uniformity and professionalism. I’m not saying that a lawyer could show up to a trial in a bikini (or whatever example you had in your mind). But even if he or she did, would that change their training and education? No. Would a person with a ton of tattoos be incapable of doing the job? No. Would you judge that person’s ability by their attire? Yes, but you should not judge them.
Because appearance does not change the person.
I raise my children to know that their individuality is important, just as I believe and try to practice. It is part of what makes us fun, unique, and talented. Who you are and what you believe in is not so easily defined by your clothing, your hair or skin color, your makeup, your tattoos or piercings, etc. I want them to make their own choices, even if I do not like them, and appearance is no different.
Anya reminded me of something today. The clothes and hair color do not define the person as much as her voice, opinions, and intelligence. Perhaps her choice to be herself and her oblivion of what is “usually” done are needed more. Perhaps as each generation grows into adults, our society grows closer to judging the person and not the appearance. Perhaps stereotypes are just that; a broad assumption of someone without knowing their whole person.
Because appearance is not the ultimate definition of a person, nor should it be.
Please enjoy the pictures of my little Leslie Knope in the making as she tears down dress codes and formalities with her campaign platform of equality and change. So damn proud of my pink haired girl; her confidence and intelligence will take her far.
If you would like info on Camp Congress for Girls or the Girls in Politics Initiative ™, click here!