One of the things I value most about my life of climbing and skiing is that it gave me an out. It gave me a different measure of success then what I think our society gives most women and girls.
Look at the major magazines sold to woman. The same articles appear every month about how to lose 10 pounds, how to get the latest hair or make-up style, what the latest fashion trends are, or how to make your boyfriend think you are a sex goddess. Where are the articles about being happy? About being a strong, badass woman? About pursuing your dreams and living life on your own terms? About being unique and being yourself?
These are things I have been ruminating on my entire adult life, but recently, I have come to realize that this insidious message actually starts much earlier then when a girl can start reading Teen magazine.
My nieces are really into all the Disney Princess stuff. I say “stuff” because there is a TON of it. Dress-up clothes, dolls, books, DVDs… even marathons now! I know some folks might think I’m being a bit ridiculous about it, but I think the messages are pretty clear if you can keep your eyes, and mind, open to it long enough. Your life, as woman, doesn’t start until you find your Prince to come and kiss you awake.
How do I know I’m not being ridiculous about this? Because that was the story I grew up with and we didn’t even have all the Princess themed stuff they have now. As I was growing up, I dreamed constantly of meeting the right guy, being kissed and living happily ever after.
That’s why I say climbing was my ‘out,’ my big, red EJECT button from that fantasy (delusion?). I started climbing at 19 years old and it started me on a trajectory that led to the development of my own thoughts about what a ‘successful’ life looks like and what kinds of things really matter.
For instance, I think experiences are more valuable then stuff (unless its GEAR you need for said experiences and then it is TOTALLY valuable!) See my previous post about summit shots. It also means that the ladies I look up to the most aren’t models or actresses. They are everyday women who crank hard on the rock or can totally rip on the slopes.
So with this internal milieu, I drove home for Thanksgiving and my niece’s sixth birthday. I hadn’t gotten her birthday present yet and was worried about showing up empty handed. When I stopped at Barnes and Noble and saw a copy of the new book Women Who Dare, I got an idea.
I would take my nieces climbing. I know there is a climbing gym nearby- I use to work there in college. I’d take them ‘Princess climbing”- let them dress up in princess clothes and go climbing. My hope was that they could begin to see that princesses can be strong and self-reliant. That they could adventure and climb and still wear pink :-).
They both ended up having a great time. So much so, that the next day, they asked me if I could take them ‘princess climbing’ again. Music to this aunt’s ears!
|The birthday girl|
|This one loved going “so high.”|
Hopefully, I planted a seed. Only time will tell for sure, but experiences like this are why its so important to “get the girls out.”