Find a picture of yourself when you were a little girl. One that embodies the essence of that early unedited self. Would she recognize you? Are you someone she would want to be friends with? Someone she would be proud of?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. The whole thing—archaeologist, Egypt, dirty and dusty adventures, flying planes, the hat, the whip… and I’m not even afraid of snakes. I realized fairly quickly though that there were reasons Indy was not a girl. Geopolitical and financial realities made it clear that I was going to have to find another way to live my dreams. Besides that Indiana Jones persona, I never again wanted to be somebody else, real or fictional. But I have always had passions, interests, curiosities, plans for adventures, and to see and do things—not as a bucket list, but as a life.
My life has been spent working very hard on projects that make me happy. In the theatre, museums, travelling, a family. I am not lucky. There is no luck. It is preparedness meets opportunity, always. But I had those choices. It strikes me every day between the eyes how many girls don’t get the choice to be who and what they want. From before women even think about becoming pregnant, their potential daughters’ lives are burdened with societal anxieties and limitations. Some have their lives decided from gender reveal to early marriage to death.
I watch girls unaware of their privilege around me everyday, most of whom have every choice and opportunity. Do they know this? I think some do and make the most of it. But the programming to live up to expectations and fulfill the dreams/needs of others is still very strong. Being a girl means so many things. It might even mean being a boy or someone in between. It it vital to support young people to live their truths, not impose on them parental or social burdens of ignorance or intolerance. We must make sure we live responsibly and not in a way that denies others their right to live their truths as well. So if who you want to be doesn’t look or sound like everyone else—good.
I am a dreamer and a builder with a unique life and world view, complete with fabulous flaws and an open heart. If we cannot see ourselves for who we are, and be the best at that, then how do we build a better world?
-Ashley E. Remer
Girl Museum Inc.