Update: This post was voted a 2012/2013 GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal Seal winner in the Cookies category! Bravo blogger Katherine!
When I was a Spark and Brownie Guider, I often heard Guiders say with envy ”Oh, your unit can sell cookies so much easier because you have cute Sparks and Brownies.” Or they would say proudly “We can sell cookies in a snap, because we have cute Sparks and Brownies. Do you want us to lend you one?”
Now that I’m a Pathfinder Guider, STOP!
I wince each time I hear this, and I desperately hope there aren’t any girls, younger or older, within earshot. It is usually meant in good humour, as a tease between Guiders. But please think about the undermining and self-esteem-eroding messages we ALL hear in this.
If a young girl hears her leaders praise her efforts at selling cookies “because she is cute”, what does she learn? That it is her physical appearance that is compelling. That the people who buy and support Guiding are doing so because of her cuteness. That she is effective because she is cute.
What do the older girls learn from this? That they are less effective; less able to “compete” with their younger Guiding sisters because they are not as cute. Will my wonderful, confident, intelligent, capable Pathfinders carry this impression with them as they find their place in school, in their careers, in their relationships, and in society?
What do Guiders learn from this? That we are in competition with each other to try to sell cookies? And that our “success” is based on how cute our girls are? That females are more successful if we are cute or pretty? That we can manipulate and compete if we are cute or pretty?
For me, this is NOT what Girl Guiding should be instilling in our girl or adult members. So please – praise the girls for how polite and friendly they were (sales skills). Praise them for how well they set up their sales table, and made it easy for customers to know why the cookies are for sale (presentation and communication skills). Praise them for choosing good places to sell (marketing plans, market research). Praise them for how well they cooperated together (team work). But please stop undermining us all by suggesting we succeed or fail based on how cute we are.
We succeed with our great ideas. We succeed with our passion, strengths, and talents. We succeed with the care and support of others. We succeed because we believe in ourselves. We succeed when we have goals and a vision for what can be.
That’s what we want to teach our girls.
By first time guest blogger Katherine Corbett, aka Chickadee, of the 1st Oak Ridges Pathfinders, Oak Ridges, Ontario.
What’s new with Girl Guides? This weekend is COOKIE DAYS IN CANADA when hundreds of girls and young women will be in 100+ Sears stores nationwide selling Girl Guide Cookies to support their activities, community service projects and international adventures. Each of the units participating in Cookie Days will have a limited supply of hot-off-the-press “Cookie Recipes for Girl Greatness” recipe cards, so plan to get there early if you want a copy. But don’t forget that if they have run out you can still download pdf versions!