Oh, how do I love Amy Poehler, let me count the ways.
Her web series, Smart Girls at the Party, returns for its second season as empowering entertainment celebrating real girls. The best part? Amy Poehler’s intimate webcam video series, “Ask Amy” where the bare-faced breath of fresh air answers girls’ questions from her bed.
There are so many reasons why I love this web series. Amy Poehler and two of her real-life friends, Meredith Walker (the Producer) and Amy Miles (the Musical Director), collaborate to create short online segments where real girls are interviewed about things they enjoy.
The fact that these three women have an actual adult friendship with one another and are working together to make something so positive is a testament itself. They are emulating a female connection and the special intimacy between friends that we are sorely lacking in mainstream media. I can count on one hand the number of movies that have female friendships as the major plot points in a celebratory manner, without pitting one woman against the other. Our culture thrives on perpetuating girl-on-girl crime, courting competition instead of fostering connection and empowerment.
The show’s aim is to present young women with positive role models and showcase regular girls embracing their individuality and pursuing their interests. In one of the webisodes detailing the motive behind Smart Girls at the Party, Meredith says that the message is: “Being yourself is enough. Being who you are right now is enough.” Those first four words are so potent and powerful.
There are few outlets that encourage being yourself and those that do get lost amidst the stream of social statutes and media messages young women are exposed to on a daily basis. On Smart Girls at the Party, young women are urged to express themselves in ways that tap into their ambition and intellect, rather than appearance.
Now we come to my favorite part of the series, the new subset of videos in a smaller series “Ask Amy.” Amy, makeup-less and languid on a bed, saddles up to the camera, propping her head on her hand as if she‘s just a regular gal pal at a slumber party. In this atmosphere of intimacy, Amy answers a question from a young girl struggling with the desire to experiment with makeup, but being rebuffed by her dad.
What I love about Amy’s answer is that she doesn’t invalidate the girl’s feelings or try to impose a motherly, adult response on her. Instead she says she understands, and that “pretty much every 14-year-old is so pretty they don’t need [make-up]”, but also commiserates with the feeling of being left out, since all the girl’s friends do it. She also suggests that the girl talk to her father and encourages the possibility of negotiating. She makes a point to offer up some consideration as to where the father’s feelings may be coming from.
I think that it is important to foster discussion with children as they grow, about what they are seeing and experiencing and how they feel about it, be it at school, on TV, or with their peers. Really hearing what they are saying and validating their experiences keeps the lines of communication open. When tough stuff comes up, as it inevitably will, they will be more inclined to come to their parents for answers and help.
I can’t wait to see what topic “Ask Amy” tackles next or what amazing real girl is featured in the upcoming episode of Smart Girls at the Party. One thing is clear: this show celebrates real. It creates a forum that promotes self-confidence and acceptance with reverence and sensitivity. Smart Girls at the Party takes young women seriously, gives them voices, and tells them they are already good enough. During the tender and tumultuous age of adolescence, it celebrates authenticity, encourages community, and tells girls they can change the world simply by being who they are.