It’s always good to sit back and take stock of the year gone by on 31st December. So here we are. I was spurred on this morning by the publication of the New Year’s Honours list. As you would expect, the sports men and women were headlining which was great to see … gold medallists all got an honour … and it was especially brilliant to see Rebecca Adlington and Eleanor Simmonds – both so young and such amazing people on the list.
If you delve a bit deeper though the list is bulging with amazing people … but for these purposes of course … it’s the women on the list who really stand out for me. Incredible bravery and resilience; amazing lifetime achievements; creativity and business success. All celebrated in one place. It’s so refreshing to see when we are so used to seeing the usual celebrities being celebrated for their dress sense, or their exploits, or their handbags or whatever it is.
I was really pleased that Vivien Smith, who has volunteered for more than 40 years for GirlguidingUK,was honoured and she was mentioned alongside the more well-known recipients on Radio 4 this morning. And I noticed that Karen Gill – founder of the Everywoman network, which both Abi and I have found so useful and supportive – was on the list too. Great to see.
One of the most telling stories for me this year was the media interest in GirlGuidingUK’s research which highlighted the difficulties which girls today have around self-esteem and the pressure to look a certain way. We talked about this research a few months ago and so did the press … take a look at the reaction and links on the GirlGuidingUK website. It says a lot about how this issue is something which we need to tackle and we need to take seriously.
An interesting article in the Guardian last week talked about tomboys! And asked: where have they all gone?? It’s a good read and it really brought home to me how incredibly our society has changed over the last few decades in terms of the conditioning that girls get. Yes – in some ways for the better without a doubt – but look closer and you realise that girls really are under the most enormous pressure to conform to outrageous standards of dress and codes of behaviour. I wondered – just before Christmas – how ‘pink’ my daughters’ Christmases would be this year. We escaped relatively unscathed I think … and interestingly Jasmine was thrilled to get Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven. I’m really curious to reread this after all this time. Even looking at the changing attitudes to her books is fascinating … let alone analysing the characters. I’ll keep you posted!
Happy New Year!