The two superstars are asking us to stop using the word “bossy” when referring to girls and women. And as for me, a bossy lady who is a mother of a bossy girl, I can not agree with this movement more. The inspiration behind the “Ban Bossy“ campaign is Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. It’s been a personal battle for Sheryl Sandberg, a strong and successful woman who was called bossy as a child, and she’s right to assume that “bossy” is a word that can crush a girl’s instinct to lead. Ms. Sandberg claims that it is the other “B-word.”
“This has become a very negative experience for girls. If you look at my childhood, if you look at the childhood of most of the leaders we talked to, they lived through being told they were bossy,” Sandberg said to NPR. “And it has such a strong female and negative connotation, that we thought the best way to raise awareness was to say, ‘This isn’t a word we should use. Let’s start encouraging girls to lead.'”
Here is where I have a personal confession: I have used the word bossy in relation to my daughter. At the time, I didn’t think of the negative consequences of using the word “bossy.” In my mind I was just calling the kettle black. My eight-year-old daughter is opinionated, stubborn, strong-willed and what I would have once called bossy. But my use of the “other B-word” ended recently, not due to this current “Ban Bossy” campaign but because of a parent/teacher conference last year. During our meeting, I referred to my daughter as being “bossy,” and was QUICKLY corrected. “No, no, she is not bossy, she is a leader. And there always needs to be leaders,” her teacher said. “We don’t use the word bossy here.” This was the first time I was mindful of the negative impact of this word — a word that has been used to describe me ALL my life and that I had instinctively used to describe my own daughter.
This is what I love about this campaign — it brings attention to something we may not have realized was an issue. “Bossy” is one of those words that is flung around so often — and so easily flows from our mouths — but many of us may not realize the huge negative impact it will have on our daughters. It’s crazy to think that this simple word can squash a young girl’s drive, having her hide her power instead of pushing herself to be true to who she is and live to her full potential.
In the PSA that Beyonce and Jennifer Garner participated in, they call attention to all those amazing and successful women who were called “bossy” growing up — highlighting that being bossy is a GOOD thing.
Will you be joining Beyonce, Jennifer Garner, Sheryl Sandberg, and others in banning “bossy”? I know I will!
You can watch the PSA video here:
Photo Source: YouTube/Lean In