How you Spend your Thank You Notes Makes all the Difference
What if you thought of every dollar you spend as a thank you note given to someone; on this note is written in your own hand, “Thanks for your thoughtful product/service. I believe in what you stand for and this is my vote for you to keep doing what you’re doing.” Thinking of my money this way makes it especially difficult for me to spend it on things that belittle girls and women. Every day brings its fresh outrage over how girls are thought of, treated, marketed to. So while the outrage or disgust is perfectly understandable, what more can be done beyond boycotting the evildoers?
Many of us blog, tweet, facebook and talk about it. Some of us start petitions and draft letters in hopes of changing policy. Some organize boycotts of offensive products and/or advertisers. Many strive to raise their boys and girls in a non-sexualized, stereotype-free environment. Some of us wake up every morning and fall asleep every night eager to find ways to make a difference and a few of us have even crafted our entire lives around sharing our vital message. My husband and I are two of those people. We started our business of creating lit brands with a conscience that encourage girls to believe in themselves and the greater good, starting with the Petalwink series for readers aged 3-6 and currently with the series I’m writing for middle graders, Fifties Chix (see my “Strong Girls x Good Books” page and mission statement). The messages in the content we create celebrate girlhood and self-confidence, not stereotypes and self-absorption. They celebrate strength and individuality, not sexiness and cuteness.
Of course, not everyone can dedicate their careers to this work, but many want to make a positive difference. So how about taking it a step even further than the boycotts, petitions and public call-outs (while all those may be necessary): let’s put our “thank you notes” (those precious dollars) where our hearts are and buy from those who have dedicated their lives to crafting and promoting messaging that you’re not ashamed to shout from the rooftops (or say to your little girl’s face while looking in those trusting eyes). It’s easy to list all the things wrong with our world, but how about supporting those who are doing it right? Give those on the front lines of this battle the resources to keep fighting for our girls and boys on your behalf. Keep them in business by giving them the dollars that would keep other less caring businesses churning out their offensive content. Make sure your dollars reflect your values.
If you mean it when you say, “I wish there was more positive content out there for girls and boys,” then enable those who are in a position to do the work for you create that content. Put your “vote” where it will make a difference. Purchase clothing and accessories from Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies; buy books in the Petalwink series and Fifties Chix: Travel to Tomorrow (and find a list of more girl-empowering reads at A Mighty Girl); subscribe to New Moon Girls magazine; purchase toys and games that promote fun and curiosity and imagination (see Imagination Soup for ideas) over harmful limits and tiresome cliches.
As the creator of Pigtail Pals posted on her blog after some of her recent work to correct the availability of some heinous t’s on Sears.com, “I might also encourage you to contact the small businesses in your area, or favorite online business, like Pigtail Pals, who operate with integrity and offer respectable apparel for your family. Tell the folks who are doing it right why you appreciate them. We work really hard at what we do, we don’t sell out to make a quick buck, and we put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into building our brands.
[In this case, I’m not doing a change.org petition and you might ask why]… Because what happens is that generates a TON of media buzz for the ill-behaved retailer when news channels cherry pick the story off of my blog, and the story becomes an “Oh how could they!?” morning bit with a psychologist inserted for credibility, instead of a story on the company that is doing it right. I’m just tired of it all. Focus on who’s got it right, and parents would know there are much better, more responsible small businesses out there working really hard to bring great products to their families. When people know better, they can do better.”
Help people do better by sending/sPending your thank you notes where it counts.