Growing up in my mother’s bubble, I didn’t know that Tomboy was a pejorative word. I didn’t know about sexism or misogyny and truly believed there wasn’t a thing I couldn’t do that a boy could do – until one day a girl told me we couldn’t throw balls as well as boys could. She said we threw like girls, which meant we didn’t raise our forearm behind our heads and twist the arm back at the elbow. Well, I’m hypermobile so I didn’t get that, either.
In the trailer of the upcoming film, Turning Red, about a girl who turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets stressed or angry, there’s a scene where 13-year old Meimei is goaded by a boy in the middle of a ball game. The boy calls her, Mama’s girl, subverting the stereotypical toxic masculine slur, Mama’s boy. Meimei gets angry and throws a hard curve ball at the boy, elbow and all.
A coming-of-age movie about awkward growing pains, the message in this movie is encapsulated in the Japanese trailer: どんな自分も大切な自分, meaning literally, every self is an important self, or every part of you is precious and lovable, including the stressed out and mad parts of you. In a world where happiness has become a singular goal, Turning Red seems the necessary antidote, and not just for kids. Out on March 11th at the end of #Women’sHistoryMonth, I can hardly wait.
Also celebrating girls was Hinamatsuri Girl’s Day on the 3rd of March. This Tuesday March 8th we again celebrate women on #InternationalWomen’sDay, when, among other things to remember is the 1908 textile factory workers murdered by the owner who set fire to the exits to prevent a protest. You can read about it here.
Since my Tomboy days, I’ve been enlightened to understand that women have come a long way since the time of the suffragettes who fought for equality and better working conditions and the New York garment district workers’ plight. While I know we’re still some way from true equality, that part of me that came from the bubble still believes that women and men will be cherished for their differences and valued equally in all our many forms, happy and smiley, yes, but sometimes sad and mad, too. Because every face is a good face, don’t forget to bust out your best Red Panda moves this weekend.