Never underestimate the power of strong female role models in the life of a young girls. In case you missed it, ‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins (who is the highest selling female director for a film’s opening weekend – $100+ million) recently tweeted a message she received from one of her producers, who shared the reaction of a group of kindergartners after seeing the superhero on the big screen:
-Seven girls playing together during recess on Tuesday, saying that since they all wanted to e Wonder Woman they had agreed to be Amazons and not fight but work together to defeat evil.
-On Monday, a boy who was obsessed with Iron Man, told me he had asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox.
-A boy threw his candy wrapping in the floor and a 5-year-old girl screamed ‘DON’T POLLUTE YOU IDIOT, THAT IS WHY THERE ARE NO MEN IN T[H]EMYSCIRA’
-A little girl said ‘When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana’
Yep, representation goes a long way, whether they are fictional or real life representations. A woman who is well familiar with this is Florida mom Ashley Larson, who is the creator behind the @Hello.Scout Instagram account, featuring adorable photos of her 3 year-old daughter Scout. The photos that stand out the most are those of Scout dressed as famous and influential women, a project Ashley started after experiencing something very personal.
Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy as well as a double mastectomy. It was tough for Scout to see her grandmother go through this, as Ashley told People.com there were a few other family members who were lost to breast cancer. Eventually Ashley’s mother was declared cancer-free, which was exciting news for young Scout.
“We’ve lost a few family members to breast cancer, and when she got the diagnosis it was scary. The kids were confused when mom started losing her hair and got very sick, but they understood that she was a strong lady to get better. It was comforting to her to show Scout how strong women are and that grandma will be okay,” she said.
She took photos of Scout with her grandmother in power poses, celebrating the strength of women, which Ashley decided to continue by showing Scout dressed up as other women known for their strength. It became a way for the mother to instill in her daughter what strength looks like and to cope with difficult news like that of her grandmother’s.
“I was trying to find something to keep our minds off of what was going on. Watching my mom lose her hair worried the kids, so I thought, ‘What better way to teach them that women are strong and able than to emulate it?’ Even if it didn’t directly help Scout, I think helped me so I was able to help her. Now, I plan to make her her own little book with the pictures, and make one for my mom to show it was inspired by her,” she told Redbookmag.com.
The people she chose to dress Scout up as, which include a few men, were all people she knew she would be proud of seeing emulated by her daughter.
“It started as just strong, fierce women at the beginning who succeed in the face of adversity. Women who don’t take no for an answer. I want to portray Scout like them, especially because that’s how her personality is. We’re starting to include men because what even is feminism if men aren’t included? It’s about equality. Men or women, it’s all about how they are as a person. But everyone we shoot is someone I truly love and respect,” she explained.
Included in the series are people such as Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, Disney character Doc McStuffins, ‘Stranger Things’ character Eleven, Disney’s Moana, actress Meryl Streep, singer Adele, Emma Watson, ‘The Walking Dead’ character Maggie, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and even David Bowie. Under each image she chooses a quote from the famous person to encapsulate why this person represents strength.
“I really do a lot of research. Everything that I put out there is what I’m trying to represent through my child. It’s always something uplifting, or something matter of fact that needs to be heard. It’s never going to be something that doesn’t mean something for me or something I want someone else to take away from the photo. Scout’s reach has younger kids, so I want to make sure it’s something they can understand and take away from it,” said Ashley.
After getting plenty of press coverage from the likes of Buzzfeed and People Magazine, the @Hello.Scout Instagram account now has over 50,000 followers.
Ashley told Buzzfeed why she chose a wide variety of icons, as opposed to only activists, or only celebrities.
“We chose a lot of feminist women, a lot of women who faced adversity and still pushed through. We also looked for women who are funny because humor really helped us through a hard time,” she said, referring to people like Ellen DeGeneres and Betty White who Scout dressed up as.
Although Scout is still very young, Ashley said she hopes the photo series and the subsequent book she is planning to make will be a great reminder to her growing up of the importance of strength, despite difficult circumstances.
“I know that Scout can’t fully comprehend everything about the breast cancer right now, but I want her to have it for later to look at. My ultimate hope is that once she is my age and can totally grasp the fact that women are fierce, not dainty and delicate — she will see that in her own grandmother,” she said.
Naturally, she also hopes the world will be a much better place for women when Scout grows older, but knows role models will be relevant always.
“My ultimate hope is that when she is older everyone will be treated equally, men and women. But if not, Scout will have these photographs to look at and be reminded that women are strong and powerful, just like she is,” she said.
There have been a few photo series we have shared on our site, created by parents who dressed their young daughters up as powerful, influential women throughout history as a creative way to give visibility to role models who aren’t always talked about in mainstream media. You can see some of them here, here, and here.
Head over to @Hello.Scout Instagram to see more images of Scout dressed up as famous female role models.