Can Girls Be Pretty and Tough? by Jane Schonberger
By Jane Schonberger Co-Founder, Pretty Tough Productions
It’s fitting that this post is being published during March – Women’s History Month. But while we celebrate how far we’ve come, it’s important to remember that the work is far from over. I’m a part of a generation of women who carry the torch of equality and feminism while simultaneously taking for granted so many of the basic liberties that our grandmothers and mothers fought so hard to attain.
The good news is that our daughters are the beneficiaries of that hard work and are primed to wipe out gender discrimination altogether. A big part of that transformation comes from a generation of girls playing competitive sports. Yup, there’s a revolution taking place and it’s happening virtually anywhere female athletes can be found. Their gear includes balls, bikes and boards. They ride bulls and bucking broncos. They surf 20 foot waves, dunk basketballs and shred ramps and rails. And if they have to beat the boys to do it – they will.
I’m the mother of two teen girls who have been running, diving, jumping and tumbling since they were toddlers. Over the years I’ve taken them to gymnastics, soccer and track practice, and even fencing class. Watching the girls grow and become confident, capable young women I realized just how much sports contributes to their physical, emotional and social well-being. They’re able to do so thanks to the efforts of women like Billie Jean King, the 1999 Women’s Cup Soccer Team (Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy et al), Katherine Switzer (first woman to run the Boston Marathon) and countless others who proved that a woman’s ovaries would not fall out if they competed athletically. Unbelievably, that was a popular misconception!
Navigating a life course is never easy and girls in particular have to make hard personal choices to express their identity. Through their performance, their bodies, clothes, activities, etc. they try to chart a course that lies acceptably within ideas of what it is to be female. Fortunately, the range of what is acceptable is broader than ever. Despite what some misogynists would have you believe, being a female athlete is not an oxymoron. The stigma of girls playing sports, that existed just a generation ago, no longer exists. The benefit to girls is that success on the field translates to success in the classroom and in life.
To honor all the girls who love to play hard, compete, and succeed, my partners and I established Pretty Tough several years ago as a media and lifestyle property that provides high-quality, specialty content and products for young female athletes. Our brand empowers and motivates young women to embrace their athleticism while encouraging them to lead active, healthy lifestyles. Through a popular online community, best-selling young adult book series (Razorbill/Penguin) and an original online series (Hulu) we are able to provide role models that show a young woman’s femininity and desire to play hard and be strong can co-exist. We depict realistic characters involved in high stakes situations on and off the field and in doing so we demonstrate that being pretty and tough are not mutually exclusive.
You can’t be what you don’t see but when I was growing up it was hard to find female characters in popular culture that were anything but damsels in distress. With Pretty Tough, we hope to change that paradigm. In just a few short years, we’ve discovered that girls and young women have a very visceral connection to our brand. They embrace the duality and intuitively understand their choices are not limited nor should they be reduced to one identity. Being a tomboy doesn’t prevent a girl from being girly and being feminine doesn’t make her weak or less intelligent. We’re constantly trying to educate publishers, network executives, TV producers and filmmakers that girls are multi-dimensional characters who needn’t be relegated to secondary roles. Can the popular jock in a novel or TV show be a girl? You bet. Gender doesn’t dictate character; experience does.
So, if your daughter is a game-changer – a girl who is fun and fearless; who lives life to the fullest, be sure to check out PrettyTough.com. for information and inspiration. You’ll find a host of educational resources and entertaining features that encourage girls to kick some grass!
Ways to support your daughter’s athletic interests
Coach: Volunteer to be a coach for a youth or rec team.
Watch Sports on TV Together: Make an effort to watch women’s sports on television together. Expose your daughter to new events and heroines while teaching yourself that there’s more to sports TV than Sports Center.
Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about gender equity in sports. Applaud local programs if the girls are being treated fairly, educate yourself and advocate on the girls behalf if they are not.
Give the Gift of Sport: For birthdays and holidays give your daughter new inline skates, a skimboard, a basketball, private coaching lessons, or her favorite female athlete’s jersey.
Take Her Out to a Ball Game: Take your daughter to professional and collegiate women’s sporting events. Support the athletes in the NCAA, WNBA, WTA, NWSL, etc. The girl power showcased might inspire her to set new goals.
And in honor of Women’s History Month, think about the remarkable women — past or present – who most inspire you.
ABOUT JANE: Jane Schonberger is a product development consultant and content strategist with a background in traditional and digital media. She works primarily with sports, entertainment and lifestyle brands and has extensive experience with content production, licensing, syndication and distribution as well as sponsorship and marketing. Her track record of success includes identifying growth opportunities and market trends along with conceptualizing and creating media for delivery on a variety of consumption platforms. As both an executive and a consultant she has worked with creators, publishers and brands to develop a diverse slate of multimedia projects designed to drive audience and user engagement as well as generate revenue.
Schonberger began her career in New York City as Director of Production for Warner Audio (a division of Warner Publishing) and relocated to Los Angeles where she served stints as an Editor-at-Large for Hyperion and production and/or creative executive for Walt Disney Co., Mommy & Me, Inc. and Fox among others.
Schonberger is currently the Managing Partner of Pretty Tough LLC, a media and lifestyle company whose products include a series of YA novels published by Penguin USA and an original online video series produced by Vuguru. She is also the Co-Founder of WomenTalkSports.com. the premier aggregator of sports blogs and journalism by and about women as well as the Sports Editor for BlogHer.
Schonberger is also the mom of two teenage daughters, who challenge and inspire her everyday and make her eligible to play in the Mom’s Basketball League at her local gym. Connect on Linkedin.
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This post was written by Jane Schonberger of Pretty Tough, LLC exclusively for Bonbon Break Media, LLC