Sunday, September 23, 2012

For the Girls

When I was a little girl, I did not ask for Barbie dolls to play with, but I had a slew of She-Ra action figures that I mounted up on my My Little Ponies and sent off to war (against whom, I don't know) on a regular basis. In fact, looking back at my childhood, I had no time for the "girly" things, instead, I wanted to watch shows with strong female leads (She-Ra), loved action and adventure, books (Reading Rainbow, anyone?), and I watched professional wrestling. While I'm sure female wrestlers were present, I don't remember them. I remember the awesome male wrestlers who even now in my adulthood I can think fondly on. But what are little girls to do, with only male role models for physical strength?

Okay, so there are legitimate sports, but let's face it, women's sports don't get that much play on TV, and female athletes soon fade into the morass of photoshopped models and movie stars on the magazine covers. That, to me, is less than effective. And for the girls that don't like sports, you're not going to reach them. The draw of wrestling to little me was that it was exciting, stuff was always happening, people were beating the shit out of each other, ripping their shirts open, screaming with crazy eyes (I'm looking at you, Hulk Hogan) and the costumes were extravagant. It was two hours of constant stimulation and excitement. And as a kid, you don't really know it's fake.

As an adult, I'm a little dismayed that female wrestling is so downplayed. There is maybe one match a night, and it's usually little more than a gratuitous lot of crotch shots and booty-popping (I'm looking at you, Eve) in a glorified  cat fight. Of the WWE Divas, few are, in my estimation, true role models for strength that little girls should look up to, and the apex of that list is Beth Phoenix. Sure, she's kind of a heel (bad guy) but she is very vocally anti-Barbie body and very pro-fitness and strength. And she's the real deal too, being the first female member of her high school's wrestling team, according to her Wikipedia page. In this society where thin waifs are idolized, we need more Beth Phoenix fans, more little girls who idolize someone who is strong, powerful, and confident. I know, if I had a daughter, I'd rather she look up to someone who promotes strength and health and performs in a fake sport than appears photoshopped on the cover of a magazine and gets arrested for drunk driving and drugs, wouldn't you?

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