Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Banning Bossy

As a child, I was definitely no pushover. I was very outspoken. I wasn't afraid to stand away from the crowd. Chances were, I was trying to get the crowd to see things my way. I had a very concrete sense of right and wrong, and heaven help you if you were on the wrong side. I was bossy.

The queen has arrived, y'all!

Thankfully, my parents and teachers recognized the spirit of leadership within me. Yes, they did work on helping me to tone things down a little--obviously, a 9-year-old shouldn't be telling an adult what to do--but they didn't try to hold me back. Most importantly, they didn't let that bossy label stick.

However, for many girls, being called bossy as a child has a lifelong effect., a new collaboration between Lean In and the Girl Scouts, explains this phenomenon:

"When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a "leader." Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded "bossy." Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys--a trend that continues into adulthood."

Scary, right? For me, it hits home because I know that even WITHOUT being called bossy all of the time, I always felt a little twinge in class when I felt like I was speaking out the most. I wanted to be a leader, but I didn't want to be viewed as obnoxious. 

I'm so glad to support the launch of the #BanBossy initiative as Miss Empire Star 2014. Miss America local titleholders are the perfect examples of girls who grew up to be leaders in their community, making a difference and aspiring for excellence. We can all learn from some of the tips the #BanBossy initiative has for young girls:
  1. Speak up in class. Speak up everywhere! Make your voice heard.
  2. Stop apologizing before you speak. Own your opinion. 
  3. Challenge yourself. The only way to experience personal growth is to step outside of your comfort zone.
  4. Ask for help. Success is a group effort. Find a mentor.
  5. Don't do everyone else's work. Be a team player, but remember that you shouldn't do work for others who then take credit for your effort.
  6. Speak up in friendship. Have an issue with a friend? Don't speak about it with others, talk through it with the individual. It's scary, but chances are you can work things out.
  7. Trust your inner voice. Don't let the words of others bring you down. You CAN do it.
  8. Change the world. It won't be easy, and it will take many small steps. But if you're passionate about an issue, you can make a difference by speaking out!
  9. Remember: It's not always easy to speak up, but it's worth it. #truth
  10. Practice! Owning these tips won't happen overnight, but with regular practice, you'll be a natural at leadership in no time.

Let's join together in fostering a spirit of leadership in young girls across the state of New York and beyond. I agree with Condoleezza Rice, and am glad to be part of a movement that is working not only to change the lives of young leaders, but the thoughts of a nation.

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