REVIEW: Redefining Girly by Melissa Atkins Wardy

TITLE: Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Teen
AUTHOR: Melissa Atkins Wardy
SOURCE: Library
RATING: ★★★★★

Containing practical, specific parenting advice; strategies for effecting change with educators, store managers, corporations, and more; and tips for challenging and changing the media, this essential guide gives parents the tools they need to fight back against the modern stereotyping and sexualization of young girls. Activist Melissa Wardy shares tangible advice for getting young girls to start thinking critically about sexed-up toys and clothes while also talking to girls about body image issues. She provides tips for creating a home full of diverse, inspiring toys and media free of gender stereotypes, using consumer power to fight companies that make such major missteps, and taking the reins to limit, challenge, and change the harmful media and products bombarding girls. Redefining Girly provides specific parenting strategies, templates, and sample conversations and includes letters from some of the leading experts in education, psychology, child development, and girls’ advocacy.


I picked up this book because this is something I feel very strongly about. I have issues with the “girl’s aisle” of the toy section being consistently pink washed. I have issues with children’s clothing looking more and more like miniature adult clothing. I have issues with young girls (pre-teens and younger) wearing makeup, getting their hair done and getting manicures. I have major issues with the sexualization of girl’s and women’s halloween costumes. All of these things leave me absolutely fuming at the idea that parents are seemingly oblivious to the way their lack of concern is affecting women as a whole. Someone has to be responsible. The media and marketing we face today is an absolutely onslaught of attractiveness messages and I think it’s important to be mindful of what those messages can do to your children.

Redefining Girly is a practical guide for raising girls outside of the rampant gender stereotyping and sexualizing that is so prominent in our culture today. This book is exactly what it promises– practical, specific advice for handing those moments that a lot of parents don’t seem to think twice about. Wardy approaches the topics at hand realistically and doesn’t provide advice based solely on theory. Instead, she speaks from experience at having raised (and continuing to raise) her daughter using these methods.

While some statements about the general topic of why it is so hazardous to a girl’s mental health to bring her up within these stereotypes can get slightly redundant (which I believe is an attempt to make a case to those that don’t already support this point of view) it is still absolutely worth a read. I would recommend this book for parents, period–of boys and girls alike. Children don’t belong in boxes.




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