June 01, 2005

The Girl Scouts and Me

I've never been ashamed to admit this before, but considering this, well, I don't think I'll be advertising that I was a Girl Scout anymore.

{...}The Girl Scouts of America recently launched a major campaign "to address the problem of low self-esteem among 8- to 14-year-old girls." (Never mind that there is no good evidence these girls suffer a self-esteem deficit.) With the help of a $2.65 million grant from Unilever (a major corporation that owns products such as Lipton and Slim Fast), its new program, "Uniquely ME!," asks girls to contemplate their own "amazing" specialness. Girls are invited to make collages celebrating themselves. They can play a getting-to-know-me game called a "Me-O-Meter."

One normally thinks of the Girl Scouts as an organization that fosters self-reliance and good citizenship. Me-O-Meters? How does that promote self-reliance? And is self-absorption necessarily good for young people?

Yes, say the mental health experts at Girl Scout Research Center. The Uniquely ME! pamphlet tells its young readers, "This booklet is designed to help boost your self-esteem by celebrating YOU and your uniqueness. ... Having high self-esteem ... can help you lead a more successful life."{...}

So, one would assume given this nifty pamphlet campaign Girl Scouts aren't going to be organized in troops anymore. That wouldn't be very "me," would it? To go further along this road, there won't be any more Brownies, because God only knows how denigrating that name is in current society. We can't have Juniors anymore, either, because, of course, that implies that there is someone more senior to these girls and that might hurt their self-esteem, too. Furthermore, the "Bridge to Juniors" from Brownie-dom has probably been deemed bad because the ceremony actually decrees that these young girls have to walk across an actual---gasp!---bridge and they could trip and fall during the process, everyone would laugh and that would hurt their self-esteem, too.

But I'll bet my last dollar that they'll still have to go out and sell cookies. Unilever's grant is only for $2.65 million dollars---and we all know that won't keep the administration in thin mints for more than a year.


I was a Girl Scout for about four years. I still have my green sash in a box in the storage room. It given to me when I crossed the Bridge to Juniors by the Great Plains Girl Scout Council, and the message inherent in the act was that it was up to me to fill it with badges and pins. Girl Scouts, in that day and age, was an interesting mix of home ec and actual scouting skills. I not only gained what few meager sewing skills I have from the Girl Scouts, but I also learned how to read a compass and start a fire in the wilderness, too. I also sold cookies. Boxes upon boxes of cookies. (Thank you, employees of the American National Bank!) From all of these activities, and more that I haven't listed, I learned. My self-esteem was boosted or dashed based on how well I actually did at these activities. Not because I was told I was to celebrate me and my uniqueness. They're celebrating vanity here, not self-esteem.

One can only assume that they'll just start throwing merit badges out willy-nilly. The failure to earn one might just be too shattering to contemplate, so it's probably best that there not be any work involved.


{Hat Tip: Fausta}

Posted by Kathy at June 1, 2005 11:26 AM

They're celebrating vanity here, not self-esteem
You're absolutely on the money, Kathy!

Posted by: Fausta at June 1, 2005 01:08 PM
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