Growing up a girl at the turn of the century: Why it was the best thing for the next generation, and why we should be thankful to those who came before us

It’s not often that I find myself preaching the ways of one generation over another, but this International Women’s Day I’ve found my thoughts straying back to a time long gone.

Society groups us into decades that define our historical upbringings. My parents are a product of the 60s and 70s – an age of peace and war, of endless possibilities in space exploration, and a time of political and cultural significance that would shape the landscape for years to come.

My sisters and I on the other hand are part of a unique breed called “90s children”. We’ve grown up in a world of rapidly advancing technology yet can still remember the days of creating chalk masterpieces on the driveway, of pushing Lego blocks into the video cassette player and being mesmerised by our parents’ first mobile phone while still using a phone with a cord.

We didn’t need government campaigns telling us to go outside and be active because like those before us, it was a part of our childhood too.

Now there’s a new era of kids born throughout the infant years of this millennium who are perplexed by the technology and the remnants of a childhood that predates their own by a mere decade.

A child in a stroller with Mum or Dad’s iPhone in their grasp, using their finite fingers to slice their way through animated fruit is no longer an uncommon sight.

Nor is that of a young girl playing with action figures.

Or of a female being cast as a lead in a movie franchise that transcends multiple decades and generations without the need to paint her as a damsel in distress or for her only role to be that of the main character’s love interest.

And while I want to jump up and down and praise the young women of today for voicing their distain at the lack of gender diversity in the media, the truth is, to quote Lara Hogan:

“Behind every great woman is a horde of even greater women who are smart, supportive, honest, and badass. There is at least one really special friend who pushes her to be better, who challenges her, and who screams her name from the bleachers when her team wins.”

So this if for those women – the ones who, no matter which generation they have grown up in, have pushed back against societal norms.

The ones who have let their girls be who they wanted to be, whether it was choosing a bulldozer truck over a Barbie or who’ve let them explore another world through comic books while unleashing their inner domestic goddess with their kitchen play set.

Thank you for raising a generation of women who have felt confident enough to go for what they want and who encouraged their girls to do the same. It’s because of you that we frequently see headlines of women breaking down gender barriers for each generation and the ones to come.

It may be a man’s, man’s world, but you know who runs it?

Girls.

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