Healthy Girls Healthy Women reports here on its on-line petition requesting that Macy’s add an equal number of female-character balloons to its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In the 84-year history of the parade, only 8% of all the balloons were of female characters. That’s 10 out of 129! Macy’s has over 3.5 million people lining the New York streets to watch the parade and another 50 million viewing from home. Don’t the little girls deserve to see themselves reflected in the event?
Children need to see entertainment where females are visible and valued as much as males. In popular movies and on TV boys greatly outnumber girls. We know from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, for example, that 28%, fewer than 1/3, of speaking characters (real and animated) in 101 top G-rated films from 1990 to 2005 were female. Such disparity conveys a message to all children about who is important and who isn’t. We also know that when girls and women do exist in the media, they tend to be hypersexualized and valued for their appearance over their strength of character and capabilities. * * *
Don’t little girls, like little boys, deserve to see themselves reflected in the holidays? Shouldn’t little boys see those girls too? Why aren’t we all kicking off the holiday season with a celebration that includes a rich array of cool and exciting female as well as male characters?
The balloons are being inflated on Manhattan’s Upper West Side as I write this, so it is no doubt too late for this year. But readers who would like to sign the petition can go here.
At first, I sniffed at the petition. One doesn’t look for oneself to be “reflected” in a balloon, right? But I do wish there were more and cooler female action heros (the pink Power Ranger never moved me). A balloon would be cool, too, if it had superpowers.
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I think we stop looking for affirmation in mirroring because we learn that it is not there for girls and women. It would be a very good thing if there were more.