Coloring books are packed with images of passive girls. This psychologist did something about it.

After watching young girls color page after page, she made a new book that shows all girls they can be whatever they want to be.

When psychologist Stephanie Tabashneck was facilitating a group for homeless parents, she told the mothers and daughters to pick a page from a coloring book to fill in together.

She felt a knot form in her stomach as she watched a young Latina girl flip through pages of princesses. None of them looked anything like her.

Tabashneck's gut told her how wrong it was that there was so little diversity in the way girls are depicted in coloring books. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and lead by example. She created "Dream Big! More than a Princess," featuring girls of all different shapes and sizes — all proudly proclaiming the awesome things they want to be when they grow up.


Tabashneck chose careers in industries where women are vastly underrepresented.

In an email exchange with me, she explained that she wanted to include highly impactful careers. "Name an industry or career that will advance our society and grow our economy," she said. "That's where you should find the women leaders of tomorrow."

Agreed.

The book is awesome and full of pages that depict girls who are going to work — and succeed — at whatever they do. Whether they grow up to be...

a brilliant surgeon,


an innovative computer programmer,


a trailblazing president of the United States,


or a successful CEO of a company.

By showing a diverse array of girls dreaming big, Tabashneck hopes to counter the subtle messages young children get when they only see one option: being a thin, white princess.

And there's a reason Tabashneck wanted to make this a coloring book. In an interview with Ms. blog, she explained that she wanted girls to actively engage in the possibility of dreaming big. By sitting down and interacting with the image through coloring, there is more time to absorb the positive messages that one's gender shouldn't hold you back when it comes to career choices.

While there has been recent praise for gender-neutral toys (and toy aisles) for kids, Tabashneck felt it was important to focus on girls.

She explained to Upworthy,

"Little girls do not grow up in a gender-neutral world. While there are endless images of boys growing up to be all sorts of fantastic things, there are far fewer images for girls, especially girls of color. 'Dream Big: More than a Princess' is an attempt to encourage girls of all races and ethnicities to think outside the restrictive gender box and aim high."

She says that the coloring book can be beneficial for boys, too. It isn't just girls who absorb the subtle messaging that comes from only seeing women portrayed as passive princesses. By offering the book to children of all genders, all kids can learn that women can be whatever they want to be.

Elementary school classmates enjoying copies of "Dream Big!" Photo courtesy of Blackstone Mills Press. Used with permission.

She hopes that the book will inspire adults to show young girls that it's OK if they don't fit in — just keep dreaming big.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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