Hi everyone! My name is Elizabeth Bailey, and I’m a graduate student in history at Appalachian State University. I am from Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, USA. I have always been interested in history, and since I learned to read I have constantly picked up historical fiction books. My undergraduate degree at Appalachian was also related to history. I studied to become a high school history teacher before I realized that my path might need to take a different turn, and that public history and teaching at the university level would probably fit my personality in a better way.
My mother has always loved reading, and she passed this gift on to me at an early age. Most of what I read is history or mythology-based, whether it is fiction or nonfiction. I also love to draw, and have always enjoyed it. My other interests include learning all that I can about women’s history from across the globe, and visiting as many historical sites and museums as possible!
Deciding what my dream job would be has been extremely difficult, because my interests are so wide. I think that I want to spend each day learning something new about history and culture, so working as a museum professional is at the top of the list. I actually believe that working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York would be a dream come true, or maybe working with the National Museum of Women’s History. I have considered working for the US Department of State on foreign policy issues, becoming a professor in women’s history, and working for one of the Smithsonian museums or the Museum of the American Indian in DC.
My favorite traditional museum that I have ever visited is the Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. I love this museum because of the fact that it exists and is trying to give voice to the stories of people who have, throughout history, been silenced. Their ingenuity and resilience both as those who first made this country inhabitable and as a people forced to undergo countless discriminations and hardships needs to be recognized, and their cultures and stories should be celebrated. I feel that this museum symbolizes one of the United States’ bigger steps toward achieving this goal.
Of course, I consider historical sites to be museums as well, and in that case, my true favorite “museum” that I have visited would be either Prambanan Temple on the Indonesian island of Java, in Yogyakarta, or Borobodur Temple, in the same general area. Prambanan is a 9th-century Hindu temple, and visiting such an old and sacred site for so many took my breath away. The best part was that I could actually touch the stone of the temples in the complex, and therefore connected to the place and the people who were there before me in a deeper way. The intricacy of the architecture of both the Prambanan and Borobudur instilled in me a much deeper respect for the people who built such structures centuries ago.
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and is as old as the Prambanan. This temple stunned me because of its size, but also because each level of the temple represented a step toward the highest state achievable in Buddhism; nirvana. Reaching the top and looking out over the surrounding mountains and jungle was so peaceful, and liberating, in a way. These temples made me feel small in a good way, and visiting them taught me so much about culture and religion while managing to make me feel at peace. It also didn’t hurt that seeing these structures helped fulfill some of my lifelong desire to see the world. I’m a hardcore world history nerd, and always have been.
I think the biggest issue facing girls today is the pressure to be perfect. This starts at an early age. Not only do girls and women face constant gender discrimination that has lasted almost since the beginning of time itself, but they face a double standard that can wreak havoc on their confidence and ability to just live a free and happy life. Girls are raised with certain toys and clothes and books, and boys are raised with a different kind. Stepping outside of these boundaries during childhood results in punishment, and girls learn to stay in their box. Yet, in today’s world women are expected to have a career while still remaining in a box. They need to be the best at their job, the best wife, the best mother, the best friend, the best family member, and the prettiest that they can be. If they are not working, they are lazy. The message is to always try harder to reach goals of beauty, success, and family harmony that are impossible for any one person to do alone.
Girls grow up watching other women in their lives dealing with this call from the world for women to be perfect, and they fall into the same pattern when they are older. Girls have to work harder to gain respect in school for being good at math or science, and they are held to a higher standard of behavior than boys by parents and teachers, since people believe that “boys will be boys,” is an excuse for bad behavior. Girls and women are criticized for being too much and yet not enough, and it can be exhausting and permanently damaging. I want girls to grow up realizing that they don’t have to live this way, and to encourage them to live freely and step into their futures with confidence in their talents and abilities. For this to happen, girls can no longer be expected to strive for perfection in all areas of their lives.
I can’t wait to work more with Girl Museum and encourage girls to explore their history and culture!
Girl Museum Inc.