Once upon a time there was a girl with a big, fat mouth. She liked to talk and she liked to think that people were listening. She also sort of felt it was her mission in life to make sure that people did things the right way.
This is where the trouble started for the little girl with the big, fat mouth. You see, people don’t like to be told what to do—even if deep down, you’re looking out for their best interest. When someone did something wrong, she felt it was her responsibility to make sure the person knew that what they did wasn’t right. Whether she was trying to protect that person from getting into trouble or she was trying to protect someone else from the trouble the person may have caused, she couldn’t keep her mouth closed.
That’s when it started. People would get angry. They would call her bossy or they would say she was a tattletale or a goody two-shoes. The disapproval from her peers mixed together with the devastating loss of her father and created a cocktail that shut the little girl with the big, fat mouth up.
In case you can’t tell yet, the little girl was me. And while I’ve gained my big fat mouth back in some areas of life (my sister and my husband hear it the most), that “bossy” little girl that I once was has been largely stomped out.
Instead, I have a daughter (well, at least one) with a big, fat mouth. Like her mother, she has a strong idea of what is right and what is wrong and she lets people—adults and children alike—know about it.
She is already bothered by being called “bossy” at school and has no doubt heard adults talk about her in the same way. My fear is that because she is a sensitive feeler like her mother, her “bossiness” will be stomped right out of her too.
Here’s the thing. It’s mostly girls that have to deal with the label “bossy.” When boys are bossy we called them strong willed or determined. We say “boys will be boys” and smile approvingly. But girls with the same attitude are thought of as bitchy and aggressive (which is somehow negative when used to describe girls but acceptable to describe boys). They are taught from a very young age that speaking your mind and standing up for your beliefs is somehow wrong. That it’s better to be quiet. What this does is pushes sensitive big-mouthed girls like myself back and tells us it’s better if we don’t act that way. It’s better to let others lead.
It’s bullshit. And it’s bullshit I don’t want my daughters to have deal with it. I want them to take their big, fat mouths and use them to make the world a better place. I don’t want them to be afraid to be leaders. I don’t want them to be quiet (OK, sometimes I want them to be quiet).
LeanIn.org and The Girl Scouts have teamed up to create a campaign to #banbossy. There has been criticism of the campaign (from the fact that bossy isn’t the worst word girls are called to the fact that girls should be taught not to be affected by what others think), but I think a lot of the criticism fails to look at the big picture.
The goal of this campaign is to encourage girls to lead. It’s really hard for me to find fault in that. Plus, I think that in teaching our littlest ladies to be leaders, we’re also teaching them not to care what other people have to say about them. We’re teaching them that they’re thoughts and feelings and beliefs are valid and that they should continue to be strong and opinionated.
What do you think?