In the American Girl books, “Meet Kirsten” and “Kirsten Learns a Lesson”, girlhood is characterized by innocence, and politeness. Kirsten does what is asked of her, and though she might internally question it or disagree with it she does what she is told. Whereas today, girlhood is represented as more fierce empowerment. In the Disney show, “Girl Meets World”, the two main characters, Riley and Maya, are outspoken and diplomatic. The show follows the girls as they navigate their way through their middle school and high school years. The girls learn lessons about friendship, the world and much more, just as Kirsten learns lessons on how to navigate her way in a new country. Kirsten also learns about friendship, with her cousins Anna and Lisbeth, and of course Singing Bird. Unlike Kirsten, Riley and Maya feel it is their right and responsibility to use their voices to stand up for what they think is right. When Maya disagrees with the homework assignment her teacher gives her, she starts a protest and gets the other kids to join in. She doesn’t feel it’s her responsibility as a girl to keep quiet on this matter, and Riley doesn’t feel the need to be silent when a friend of hers is getting bullied. Whereas Kirsten never wanted to move to the United States in the first place, she hated the boat, and even when her father tells her to leave behind her precious doll Sari, she does so with no questions asked. On the other hand, such analysis would not be complete without mentioning the limitations still present within society’s definition of girlhood. Today girlhood often still revolves around some sort of romantic storyline, often including a male character, which was not the case in the Kirsten books. Although the media has been trying to move away from this idea of a girl or woman needing a man, it is still very much prevalent today. You rarely see stories or TV shows that show only a girl, without any male romantic interest. Even though the girls in Girl Meets World are independent, strong and loud, they still are both obsessed with the cute boy in their class, Lucas. There is even a storyline of the two girls fighting over him. In the end, our society is not yet perfect, however the depiction of young girls has come a long way. Children are shaped by the media’s depiction of who they are supposed to be. Today, our young girls know that they are meant to follow their inner voice and not to be silenced. The importance and strength within girlhood is on a powerful upwards trajectory, leaving the future to be a hopeful place.

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