In simple terms, “girlhood” is a state or time of being a girl. This definition forces one to consider/question the markers that label someone as a “girl.” Throughout Jacqueline Reid-Walsh’s Keywords essay and throughout the in-class discussions, the following were considered as possible ways to classify someone as a “girl”: chronological age, biological sex, gender identification, a phase of psychological development, a state of mind, participation in “girl” culture, legal status, a state of youthful “innocence,” the absence of sexual activity, etc. In her essay, Reid-Walsh demonstrates that the definition and ideology of “girlhood” is quite complex and quite variable when considering cultural influence. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, the idea of “girlhood” is represented as a state of youthful innocence, while in Pixar’s The Incredibles 2, the idea of “girlhood” is represented as a stage of psychological development.
In Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls is portrayed as stereotypical innocent young girl. Throughout the book, Wilder tells the story of her family moving West through her own perspective. As the family’s journey progresses, Laura notices that the racists acts of her family and white settlers, in general, are negatively affecting the Native people. Although she is not completely naive, she is still considered innocent based on the fact that she cannot fully grasp this concept. This is especially shown towards the end of the book when she is completely infatuated with the Native baby.
In The Incredibles 2, Violet Parr, a major character, is portrayed as a stereotypical emotional adolescent girl—representing a time of psychological development. To give some background, Violet is the eldest child and only daughter of Bob and Helen Parr and the older sister of two younger brothers—Dash and Jack-Jack. As a child of supers, Violet also has her own unique powers. However, due to laws that restrict the use of the family’s powers, life between her parents and siblings is somewhat tense. Throughout the first film, Violet is depicted as a gloomy, uncertain, shy, socially withdrawn girl with self-esteem issues. However, throughout the second film, Violet is pushed beyond her comfort level and gains more confidence in who she is. By the end of the film, Violet develops a sense of maturity and appreciation for herself and each one of her family members and even a sense of humor.
Like I mentioned when introducing the topic of “girlhood,” the ideology spreads far beyond the simple definition. Both Laura Ingalls and Violet Parr are just two examples of the numerous ways to describe “girlhood.” I think it important to notice that these stereotypical representations may do not hold true for all people who identify as “girl.”