by Heather Brown
Reflecting on our elementary and high school years, most of us probably remember the importance of feeling we fit in with those around us. In recent years, the media has increased awareness of the prevalence of bullying in schools, online, and in social settings. According to the American Medical Association, more than 3.2 million youths are the victims of moderate to serious bullying each year.
While both boys and girls engage in bullying, girls are more apt to inflict psychological pain upon their victims, which can have a long-lasting impact on the victims’ self-esteem. Girls who are bullied may become self-conscious about their appearance, withdrawn, and easily moved to tears.
More serious consequences, such as depression and suicide, could occur if
bullying persists. Today, it is more important than ever to do everything
in our power to create feelings of empowerment in our young women and ensure they have a strong sense of self-worth. If you’re concerned that the girl or young woman in your life is reading novels like the Twilight Trilogy or even Fifty Shades of Grey, which features a college student, you’ll want to counter the submissive, dependent and at times masochistic imagery popular in today’s culture.
One way to make sure that young girls feel empowered, is to provide them with positive, female role-models. The Amelia Bloomer Project showcases reading lists with strong literary protagonists for girls and young women. Aimed at girls in elementary, middle and high school, these are yearly collections of books valued for their excellent writing and ‘girl power’ message .
The project’s name is certainly apt–Amelia Bloomer attended the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, at the age of 30. One year later, she began publishing her own newspaper, The Lily. In it, she expressed her thoughts on a variety of social issues, including women’s education and marriage reform. Elizabeth Cady Stanton also contributed articles, and The Lily circulated to over 4,000 readers. Ms. Bloomer enthusiastically adopted the scandalous fashion trend of loose women’s trousers, gathered at the ankles, which became known as the “Bloomer Costume.”
The Amelia Bloomer Project carries on the work of enlightening women of all ages through their recommended reading lists. View this year’s list at the Amelia Bloomer Project.