Earlier this week, this photo of a local girls softball team went “viral” on the Internet. In case you don’t shop at Hobby Lobby or have a cross wall in your kitchen and missed it, here it is:
Awe shux! Isn’t that adorable? Little girls with pouty faces dressed up like princesses playing softball!!! I’m crying right now. Hehe. That’s so silly. LOLZ! Heart Emoji Thumbs Up Smiley Face!
Sorry about that. I just wanted to summarize all the online comments about the pic.
As I mentioned, that photo has gone semi-viral in the important “Mom” demographic. They took a break from clearing levels in Candy Crush and filtering photos in Instagram to like and share the pic. I don’t blame them. It is kind of cute.
This got the attention of the starved for content national mom media like Ellen, Buzzfeed and probably Rachael Ray. They shared the pic with their viewers and readers, which I guess woke up Jenni Carlson from a nap. She decided to interview the photographer, find deep meaning in the pic, and then write a column about it one painful one-sentence paragraph at a time.
Betsy Gregory has found herself giggling like her 4-year-old these past couple days.
They are giggles of wonder.
She is a full-time mom in Edmond who has a photography business on the side, and last week, she took pictures of her daughter’s softball team. The little girls have since gone viral on the internet. Hundreds of comments. Thousands of shares. Who knows how many views.
Buzz Feed has called. So has the Huffington Post.
“It is wild, wild, wild,” Betsy said.
Put little girls in eye black and “Frozen” dresses, and you’re bound to have a hit on your hands.
Can someone in The Oklahoman’s new headquarters stop looking at the “Timeline of Sadness” and check Jenni’s cubicle to see if she’s okay? I’m pretty sure she just strung together four sentences to make a complete paragraph. That’s a shocking development. It would be like Steve Lackmeyer calling for Larry Nichols to destroy all historic buildings in downtown for a super-sized parking garage in his next OKC Central web chat.
Of course, maybe Jenni’s just experimenting with a new writing style. Some of her hallmarks are still there. For example, we’re seven “paragraphs” into the column and we still don’t have a thesis. Why exactly is she writing about this pic that Hoda will probably tell your grandma about on The Today Show?
Let’s see if she finally gets around to it…
But on the heels of the Women’s College World Series and as the Women’s World Cup kicks into high gear, it feels like there is something bigger at work here. The girls are adorable. The picture is fun. But when you look at them, you see something else.
There is power in their picture.
Being strong and independent are lessons that Betsy Gregory is trying to teach her daughter, Avery. (Avery is the one in the middle of the back row with her blond braid draped over her shoulder, her catcher’s gear on.) Betsy played soccer growing up in Broken Arrow, but her parents always encouraged her and her sister to do everything. Theater. Sports. Band. Dance.
That empowered Betsy, and she wants the same for Avery.
“You can do anything that you set your mind to,” she said. “As a mom, that’s what we want our girls to feel the power to do, to step up and try anything.”
Betsy senses that same mentality in other moms. They’re like her; they were among the first generation that grew up in an era when girls did everything that boys did. So it came as no surprise last fall when Betsy found herself in a group of moms talking about getting their 3- and 4-year-old daughters into softball. Their girls were in the same dance class — “Of all things,” she said — but what if they put together a softball team in the spring?
One of the moms shook her head.
“My daughter will never play,” she said.
Surely they could figure out a way to get all the girls interested, and finally, they hit on the thing that interests every little girl.
Back when I was in college, I had to write about and analyze works by Chaucer that were written in Middle English. I swear on The Miller’s Tale that his writings are easier to follow and understand than a Jenni Carlson piece.
Seriously, what’s she trying to say? There is power in the picture? What type of power? She mentions being “strong and independent,” but how does dressing up four-year-old girls like princesses to promote a photography business (notice the big logo) equate to that? If anything, the message being conveyed is that girls who like sports should conform and follow gender roles and stereotypes, and the easiest way to get a girl to play softball (and promote mom’s photography business) is to doll her up like a Disney Princess. I wonder what the players in the Women’s College World Series and Women’s World Cup think of that message?
Of course, making statements like that require a deep overanalysis of what is essentially just a cute, innocent photo. That’s not a fun game to play. I’ll let Jenni stick with that. After a few hundred words of more ramblings, Jenni finally gets to what I think is her point:
“Little girls that are in beautiful sparkly dresses are OK to look a little tough and look a little mean,” Betsy said. “I’ve heard words like ‘fierce’ thrown out.
“It’s OK to be strong and empowered.”
Others see in the photo what Betsy hopes she is teaching her daughter, what she hopes all little girls learn along the way about sports or music or whatever interests them.
Betsy admits that they were being silly when they took the picture, but the message is serious.
“You’re a little girl, and you can do anything,” she said. “Don’t let people get in your way. Go for it. Wear an Elsa dress and play softball.”
Yes, girls. That’s it. Want to feel strong and empowered? Dress up like a Disney Princess. That will show them.