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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.

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

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.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

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It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

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