‘Unsettling’ is the main word that Jia Tolentino uses for the new ‘Teen Bo$$’ magazine. Tolentino thoroughly dissects the glittery, smiley, and slightly awkward appearance of this ‘Barbiefied’ Financial Times. However, while all of her points are valid, she misses the central message that this paper conveys: that it’s apparently the ‘thing’ to be an entrepreneur by the age of fifteen. When in the entire history of girlhood have young women been encouraged to be financially educated, independent and managing their own business? Not often, as far as I’m concerned. So yes, we can criticize this as nursery capitalism, but we could also take it as a first—albeit questionable— step in the right direction.
Boys and young men have always been nurtured as natural business talents, praised for their discernible craftsmanship. For centuries, family businesses were passed on from father to son. Somehow, we still seem to stick to the image of a smart, educated, and independent woman who does her own thing – but only after someone has built the business empire for her (remember the recent movie ‘The Post’?) Cutting a long story short, the very core of the problem is as follows: young women gain the painful experience of having to fight ten times harder than many men within their profession to get to the top. They are, more often than not, charged with being incapable, held down by the invisible (and inevitable) ‘glass ceiling’ that looms above so many women. Instead, women are excluded from the inner circles of business tycoons, elite professors, and even international politics, often paying great costs to be ‘the boss’.
We could eradicate this exclusion by telling young girls that they are allowed to dream big and follow those dreams; that it’s great to excel at maths and to read books, and that there are always mentors out there who will believe and support them every step of the way. Girls need to be positively reinforced to combat the ‘glass ceiling’. They need to be told that they are just as good at business as boys, and that there is absolutely no reason to keep the boards of directors in this world as male-dominated as they are now. Sure, we can debate whether or not a glossy magazine featuring twelve year old YouTube stars with no “normal nine to five jobs” will help us in our case for empowering young women, but it certainly conveys the message girls should hear: You do you, and you do your business if you want to!
Girl News International