Research has shown that starting from the age of five, girls are already less likely than boys to see themselves (and other girls) as smart and competent, while parents are two-and-a-half times more likely to ask “Is my son gifted?” than to Google the same question about their daughters. This has been called ‘The Dream Gap’ by academics.
Makers has partnered with Barbie to launch The Dream Gap Project, a global initiative that aims to raise awareness around the factors preventing girls from reaching their full potential. The initiative will highlight positive female role models and encourage girls to reach their potential.
Sometimes it just takes the right mantra to set a little girl on her future path – or to make her realise how special she already is. Girls look up to the women in their life, from mums and aunts, to female family friends and teachers, so chatting about role models over the breakfast table, or repeating famous quotes in the classroom is invaluable.
Instilling a strong sense of self-belief in little girls and giving them the confidence to follow their instincts and value attributes about themselves beyond their appearance can be critical to helping girls succeed.
“Be brave. Even If you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.”
In other words, “fake it until you make it” – even pretending to believe in yourself can give you a huge positivity boost. In life, the scariest thing is never trying – so take a chance.
“When they go low, we go high” – Michelle Obama
What started out as a campaign slogan when Michelle Obama uttered the motto during a speech in the 2016 Democratic National Convention has become the mantra parents want to raise their children by. There will be bullies, rejections and taunts that girls will hear at various points in their lives, from trying out for sports teams to breakups and job interviews – that’s a part of growing up. But stooping to a new low to feel secure about yourself is never the answer. Keeping your head held high and sticking to your beliefs will always make a girl feel like winner. Actually, channeling Michelle Obama at all times works, too.
“Believe in yourself”
Here’s the thing about believing in yourself: once you decide you’re going to do something, you start trying, you work harder, and, often, you succeed because you’ve persevered. Once you start succeeding and accomplishing your goals, you have the confidence in yourself to push farther and try new things. It’s a virtuous circle of positivity.
“You can be anything” – Barbie
Empowering girls isn’t about just swapping princesses for presidents. It’s about sharing all kinds of female role models in lots of different guises. Really, we should be telling little girls that they can be anything they want to be. They can change policy, save lives, make new discoveries, go to the moon and score that winning football goal. And yes, girls can absolutely do all that while wearing fancy dress, too.
“I am beautiful, no matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down” –Christina Aguilera
Christina’s body-positivity anthem of 2002 should be every little girl’s gospel. No matter what you look like, no matter how different the pictures in magazines look to you and no matter what comments you hear, you are absolutely beautiful.
“Bend so you don’t break.”
This is a yogi mantra but we love its relevance for everything in life – you don’t have to literally bend yourself in half to stay strong, but allowing yourself some flexibility when things go wrong, instead of letting yourself become angry, or helpless, can be transformative. Also, this mantra highlights the importance of self-care for young girls, whether they want to kick a football around to feel happy or go into downward dog. Everyone needs a healthy outlet for their emotions and to feel calm, and the younger they are when they find one, the better.
“Everyone you meet is either a blessing or a lesson.”
There are lots of wonderful people you come across in life: role models, mentors, friends, family members, strangers who change the course of your life events for the better. Unfortunately, you will also encounter people who are selfish, hurtful and damaging. This is as true now as has ever been, but remember – people are capable of change, so a lesson can become a blessing.
“If you were able to believe in Santa Claus for eight years, you can believe in yourself for five minutes.”
Even though the Dream Gap starts affecting girls as young as five, it’s important to reiterate positive mantras no matter how old kids get. We can all do with a reminder that, sometimes, five minutes is all it takes to psych yourself into something – or out of something.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and more loved than you know.”
Repeat this one while brushing your teeth each morning and night.
Visit https://www.barbie.com/en-gb/dream-gap to learn more.