Interview with BRAVE Moms — Ashley + Elyse
What I love about the internet is that people who inspire you are only one email away. So naturally when I came across Bravery Magazine on Kickstarter, a quarterly print publication for children that features strong female role models which was fully funded in three days and then doubled their original fundraising goal, I instantly got in touch with the brilliant women behind it. I wanted to learn more about how they're pushing the world forward through their work and parenting approaches! Here's what we discussed:
1. Where did the idea for Bravery Magazine come from?
Elyse: My daughter got a Snow White dress for Christmas. She’d never seen the movie, but every time she put on the dress, she would suddenly become timid, running around yelling,“Help me! Save me!”. When I asked her why she was acting scared, she told me,“Princesses aren’t brave, so I can’t be brave.” This made me realize that I hadn’t really provided her with any other role models to look up to besides princesses. I realized then that I needed to give her more options
Ashley: A few months later, I had a similar experience with my daughter. I dressed her up as Rosie the Riveter for a photoshoot, so to prepare her, I taught her a little bit about Rosie.The entire next week she pretended to be Rosie. It was amazing! She was running around the house, pretending to fly planes. It became so clear to me then — children need positive role models to imitate. I wanted to tell her more stories! There are so many women who have done so many amazing things, and I wanted to tell these stories to my daughter.
Elyse: After these experiences, we wanted to find a way make these real people interesting to kids. After a little bit of research, we realized there wasn’t anything on the market quite like what we wanted, so we decided to create our own resource. We tossed around a few ideas, but finally settled on the magazine idea. Since Ashley comes from a design background, and I come from a teaching background we thought it would be a great way to use our individual talents.
2. What is your criteria for someone to qualify as a role model?
Ashley: We look for women who are brave in the sense that they’ve done something scary and new that wasn’t typical at the time. A common theme we’ve found in the women we’ve researched is that something happens in their childhood that leads them to their career — We want to show kids those moments because it helps create a common point that they can relate to. For example, when Jane Goodall was 1, her dad gave her a stuffed chimp because a baby chimp was born at the London Zoo. This moment kickstarted her passion for chimps and animals. Jane loved animals so much that when she was just 18 months old, she brought earthworms into the house and hid them under her pillow. She also snuck inside a henhouse and hid there for hours just to watch how a hen laid an egg.
Elyse: As a kid, Jane was so interested in animals, and her parents recognized and fostered that interest. Instead of getting mad at Jane for bringing dirty earthworms into her bed or hiding for hours in a henhouse without telling anyone, Jane’s mother recognized Jane’s love of discovery, and encouraged her to pursue it. Jane’s mom listened to her excitement at her discoveries and showed interest in them. Dr. Goodall has said that if her mother wouldn’t have been supportive, she may have not pursued her dream. As parents, we’re a driving force in helping our kids pursue their passions, and Jane’s story is an amazing example of that power.
Ashley: We also look for diverse women from different fields who have different interests. We want to show a broad range of role models from scientists to writers and artists!
3. Can you give some examples of the kinds of stories and games people will find inside of an issue?
Ashley: Our first issue is all about Jane Goodall, so all the activities have been inspired by her life and values. Inside you’ll find things like a word search to teach new vocabulary, a DIY activity where children can make own binoculars for exploration, and a guide for nature walks where kids can spot various objects and paste their findings into the magazine (amongst many other things)
Elyse: Jane believes that small actions can make a big difference, so we’ve included a community challenge to help kids start making a difference in their local communities.
Ashley: Also, every issue includes a parent section. One of Jane’s greatest values is patience, so for the first issue we delved into the importance of fostering patience as a parent in our parent section.
4. The culture around “female empowerment” has been criticized as being predominately white — How do you plan to promote diversity through Bravery?
Elyse: Honestly, coming into this we were a little naive, but we quickly learned how important it is to be inclusive and that representation matters. Right now we’re creating an advisory board made up of diverse individuals from various races and professional backgrounds to help us navigate this issue in the correct way.
5. You’ve been described as challengers of ‘princess culture’, in your opinion what makes princess culture so toxic?
Elyse: My daughter loves princesses even though I haven’t ever encouraged it. However, it’s a fine balance to toe because I really believe the princess culture gives a one-dimensional view of what a girl is — there’s more important stuff out there than just being pretty! I think it’s important to give opportunities to broaden what it means to be a girl.
Ashley: Princess culture becomes toxic if you don’t introduce real role models who have accomplished real things.
6. What do you think is the biggest challenge girls will face in society as they grow up?
Elyse: Self-confidence. Having self-confidence is so much harder with the presence of social media. There’s a lot more pressure on girls to compare themselves with others. I want my daughter to know that she doesn’t need to look a certain way or act a certain way. Our childrens’ self worth should not be tied to how many likes and comments they get on social media.
7. How can moms and dads embed empowerment into their daughters' lives from the get-go?
Ashley: I think for dads specifically it’s about stepping back and looking at how they treat their wives. Kids pick up so much on parental dynamics! Then, I think it’s about giving girls chances to try lots of new things.
Elyse: For both parents, it’s important to talk to their personal successes and failures. We need to be celebrating our failures and talking about them with our children. As parents, we can show that failures don’t have to make you quit.
8. Where do boys fit in the female empowerment movement and how can parents help them be allies for girls?
Ashley: When we started the magazine, we realized that boys needed to be involved. In today’s culture, things are so out of balance, and I’m worried for the new generation of young boys that don’t know anything different. We want boys to look up to and learn from female role models. After all, Jane Goodall is an individual that both boys and girls can find aspirational.
Elyse: Inherently, boys don’t care if they are learning about a boy or a girl. Learning from female role models will help them respect women. It will help them realize that both boys and girls are capable of doing great things.
9. What is the greatest thing you want your daughters to take away from their childhood?
Ashley: I want my daughter to walk out of her childhood armed with confidence. I want her to have the knowledge that she can do anything she sets her mind too. I want to foster her dreams and help her see what she’s capable of achieving. I want her to have exposure to all the different things she can do in life.
Elyse: I never want my daughter to lose the magic of her childhood, but I still want her to come out of childhood with confidence.. One of our greatest hopes for Bravery Magazine is that it will inspire children to be their own kind of brave by introducing them to real, brave women who have done real, brave things. We try to do this in a fun, engaging way so that kids can still keep that magical, silly childhood intact while also internalizing an empowering message: That they can be their own kind of brave, whatever that looks like.