Chances are you watched Sesame Street as a kid and, if your child is anything like mine, you get to relive some of your favorite episodes as an adult. Conceived as a show that would educate and prepare children in under-served communities for school, Sesame Street has spent that last 40 years teaching children lessons that go beyond the ABCs. In fact, the more I watch it with my daughter, the more I realize that, in addition to diversity and acceptance, Sesame Street teaches children about feminism in a way that is easy to digest an understand.
You don't even realize you're learning about feminism until you're older and see how it's shaped your view on things. I recall an older episode in which Maria, played by Sonia Manzano, feel trepidation over asking for a raise at the fix it shop she worked in. When she finally found the courage to do ask, she was not only given a raise, but was promoted to partner of the entire store. It may sound like just a cute story when you're not paying attention, but the effects are enormous. And the feminism stories on Sesame Street don't solely focus on women doing anything men can do. These stories teach girls that they can love dressing up as a fairy and believing in magic, as well as as much as they love digging in the dirt and pretending to be a construction worker. It's a show I'm proud for my daughter to be totally obsessed with and I love the feminist lessons she'll learn from it. Here are just some of the feminist messages girls and boys can learn from watching Sesame Street.
1. Women Can Be Anything
You can tell your little ones that women can be anything they want to be, but a catchy song can really solidify it. This classic song from Sesame Street covers everything women can be with no limitations or judgement. Your little girl wants to be a bus driver? Awesome. She wants to be a cook, a roller skater, or someone who cures diseases? Perfect. And bonus? It's sung by an extremely diverse group of female muppets.
2. You Can Banish Girl Stereotypes
Too often, everyone assumes little girls are supposed to be sugar and spice and everything nice. I mean, how infuriating is it to hear someone tell your daughter she's not being "lady-like" because she'd rather run through the mud? And, on the other hand, it's just as aggravating for someone to mock your daughter for loving pink, tutus, and fairy wings. Another great song from Sesame Street, "Girls of the World" tells your daughter that she can be loud, she can be quiet, she can wear party shoes with a football shirt, and she can pound a juice box in 30 seconds flat. No matter what, she's still a girl and she should be ridiculously proud of it.
3. You Can Normalize Breastfeeding
Honestly, it's a wonder breastfeeding in public is even a debate considering Buffy did it in 1977 on Sesame Street. Big Bird asks a few questions about breastfeeding, Buffy answers, and he's all "Oh. Well that's nice." This clip not only shows that nursing it in public is totally normal, but it explains why some moms nurse and others don't without judging either party.
4. Don't Limit Yourself
Maria started working right out of high school and has never limited herself when it comes to jobs. She also has big dreams abut the future, and has every intention of making them come true. A huge lesson for your little girl, right? It doesn't matter what you're doing or what you've done, you can always keep dreaming. Never limit yourself.
5. Love The Skin You're In
When Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o visited Sesame Street, she taught a powerful lesson — your skin is your skin and you should love it. It doesn't matter the color, the texture, or if it's ticklish — it's yours and it's all beautiful. This is a great lesson for any child, but hearing it from a woman is even more powerful.