Amanda is a pleasant Grade 7 girl who enjoys life, and has lots of friends. She is especially close to a small group of girls who are starting to be interested in boys and to express their sexuality. Two of the girls – Kali and Sabrina - have recently started going out with boys. They have begun to imitate some of their favourite actresses and singers. Their clothing is becoming “sexier” and they are starting to wear makeup.
Amanda is excited and at the same time anxious about all these new developments. She wants to have a boyfriend like her friends and wants the boys to think she is pretty. On the other hand, the sexy and revealing outfits her friends wear to school are very different than her usual way of dressing. Her friends have begun to make comments about her clothes, suggesting she needs a makeover to fit in with their group. One friend had hinted to her that a certain boy would probably ask her out if she dressed a little sexier.
One Thursday, Amanda and a few of her friends were chatting excitedly about the weekend coming up. Kali and Sabrina walked by and Amanda called out to them. “We’re just talking about the weekend. What are you doing? Do you want to get together? Benita’s having a movie night at her place!” Kali and Sabrina exchanged glances, and Kali answered coldly, “Thanks but we’ve already got plans.”
Amanda and her friends looked at each other. Kali and Sabrina had been good friends since they were in Grade 1. They always spent time together on the weekend. “Oh, OK then,” said Amanda, feeling hurt.
On Monday morning, one of Amanda’s friends came up to her, looking distraught. “Guess what!” she said. “Kali had a party on Saturday night, with boys! And she didn’t invite us!” Amanda’s jaw dropped and she felt her cheeks flush. “Wow,” she said. “I can’t believe they’d do that!”
Amanda and her friends continued to try to include Kali and Sabrina in their plans and activities, but the two girls eventually drifted away and began moving in different social spheres.
Amanda’s teacher began introducing their class to some online Zines for young teens that were engaging and dynamic, and also offered a positive, respectful healthy and egalitarian vision of sexuality. The teacher invited the students who wanted to participate to join or form new clubs, based on the ideas in the Zines. Boys and girls were welcome to participate in the club of their choice. The clubs were facilitated by teachers, who helped the kids identify and discuss their concerns about becoming young women and young men. It also helped the students to see that there is actually a lot of variety among people in the world and how they express their gender identity and character.
While Amanda and her friends continued to feel hurt about Kali and Sabrina’s rejection, they started to feel more self-confident and supported, believing that there is more than one way to be as a young woman.