Oftentimes, all the talk about daring forgets that the pen (or our high-tech stand-ins for the pen) can be pretty daring in itself. We haven’t done much linking to the many reviews of The Daring Book for Girls. I thought I’d call attention to one review, by blogger Deborah Siegel, aka Girl with Pen, because in many ways, she got it right, and because we’re fans of hers. It was Debbie, after all, who had introduced me to another author, Courtney Martin, the twenty-something wonder-girl who wrote last year’s Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.
As it happened, I read Perfect Girls just before we began the whirlwind writing of The Daring Book for Girls. Courtney’s candid descriptions of teenagers and young women wasting so much precious brain-power on their next abbreviated meal and extended exercise session are haunting. Courtney describes girls as young as nine who diet, already hating their bodies, and trying to make themselves less than what they are. Her writing formed the backdrop to what we hoped to accomplish with Daring. As we wrote, Andi and I looked at our own daughters’ lives. We dreamt of a girlhood filled with fun, a girlhood that lasts a great deal longer than girlhood lasts today, and a girlhood more innocent, more interesting, and less toxic.
We hope that in the future, daring girls will be so busy running around, learning a sport, exploring the woods, running an electricity experiment, firing up the power tools, and/or curling up with a good book (perhaps, even, as a cover for an important spy mission) that she won’t even be thinking about whether she’s too large, not pretty enough, doesn’t have the right cellphone, or is just not cool enough for the hip crowd.
Instead, she’ll have a girlhood better than any generation of girls before her. She will have become interesting to herself. She’ll feel confident because she knows many things and has skills, so she can make new things and fix things that have broke. She will feel strong in body, and beautiful from the inside out. She’ll know that the world is a big place, and she has a still-to-be-discovered place in it.
And that, friends, will be a great deal better for all girls (and for the boys who come along) than things the way they are now.
That’s our simple but brobdingnagian* dream. Pass it on. Go Daring Girls!
* See “Words to Impress,” pages 187-189 in The Daring Book for Girls:
Brobdingnagian (brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn). Gigantic, enormous, tremendous. Lydia made constant use of her brobdingnagian vocabulary.