Beyond the Princess: Inspiring Role Models for Young Girls

photoUnless you have been living in Siberia for the last week, I’m sure you know all about the royal birth. With all of this royal fever in the air, coupled with the fact that with my three year old has a new found obsession with princesses, I’m left feeling like I want to drop kick Cinderella across the Edwards Aquifer. I want to give my daughter real female role models to look up to other than Rapunzel, Ariel, and Cindy (-rella that is). I’d prefer that she be inspired by women who have lived, breathed and fought hard for their place in history, not just vied for the attention of Prince Charming while dressed up in a sparkly dress. Here are a few inspiring women and  activities around San Antonio that bring real female role models to life for your little girl:

For the girl who climbs to the top of the playscape with no fear: Amelia Earhart

Amelia_Earhart,_circa_1928-1As the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart was, no doubt, a daredevil at heart. Growing up, she kept a scrapbook with articles about successful women in male dominated industries. To inspire your budding pilot, take her to the Texas Air Museum at the Stinson Municipal Airport where she can see female pilot Katherine Stinson’s Bleriot. Katherine, a role model in and of herself, was the 4th woman in the US to obtain a pilot’s certificate!
Read About It: Who Was Amelia Earhart? by Kate Boehm Jerome, Nancy Harrison and David Cain

For the tender-hearted girl: Audrey HepburnAudrey_Hepburn_screentest_in_Roman_Holiday_trailer

While Audrey Hepburn was lauded for her acting career, it’s her active role in philanthropy throughout her life that make her an amazing role model. Audrey was the official spokesperson for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund and made over 50 trips to countries around the world to visit children in need and came back to advocate on their behalf. Encourage your budding philanthropist by showing them volunteer work in their own community. The San Antonio Food Bank has volunteer opportunities for children starting at the age of 8. Instead of a Lemonade Stand, have your kids set up a Donation Stand and collect needed items for organizations like The Ronald McDonald House or for pet lovers, San Antonio Pets Alive!  Find out if your favorite local non-profit hosts a race or run and volutneer to work the water stand – such a fun activity for kids.
Read About It: Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

For the dino-digging girl: Mary Anning

Mary_Anning00Paleontolgist, Mary Anning, lived on the English coast in the early 1800’s. When she was just twelve years old, she discoverd the first ichthyosaur skeleton, the first of it’s kind to be correctly identified. Mary also discovered a pterosaur, the first two plesiosaur skeletons, and a number of important fish fossils. She faced discrimination due to her age and social status, but her finds landed her an important spot in history. Cheer on your little paleontologist when you visit the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit at The Witte or visit Dinosaur-Quest inside Rivercenter Mall.
Read About It: Stone Girl, Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning by Laurence Anholt[divider_flat]

For the strong-willed girl: Sandra Day O’Donnor

Sandra_Day_O'Connor_1982This native Texan was the first female member of the Supreme Court. Dress your daughter up in a black robe, get her a gavel and play “Court”. I’m sure she loves bossing her little brother or sister around as it is! Take a daytrip to Austin to check out the Supreme Court of Texas. Texas Supreme Court Justices give tours and you can even put in a special request for one of our female Texas members, Justice Eva Guzman or Justice Debra Lehrmann. Tours can be planned by contacting [email protected] with a requested time and date, as well as a specific “tour guide”.
Read About It: U.S. Supreme Court Coloring and Activity Book by Jenny B. Davis[divider_flat]

For the girl who loves to dress up: Coco Chanel

Hugh_Grosvenor,_Duke_of_Westminster_und_Coco_ChanelDoes your daughter have an opinion about what she will wear? Does she breakout the accessories and drape herself in pearls? Look no futher than Coco Chanel. Coco not only founded the Chanel fashion line but was credited with breaking women free from the corset – THANK YOU COCO! Have her friends over and play Fashion Runway. Bust out the fabrics, scarves, accessories and hats and see who can come up with the most creative outfit. You can also enroll her in a kids sewing class at Creative  Sewing Center.
Read About It: Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews


For the animal lover: Jane Goodall


Best known for her work living amongst the wild chimpanzees in today’s Tanzania, Jane Goodall is a champion for animals and improving the environment that we share with them. Help your littlest anthropologist discover a world of monkeys at the San Antonio Zoo. Make sure to check out the schedule for Animal Encounters and Education Encounters before you go. These encounters give your little lady a chance to meet with the zookeepers and learn a little more about what goes on behind the scenes at the zoo!
Read About It: Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell[divider_flat]

For the girl who loves wonder and magic: Marie Curie

Marie_Curie_c1920Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, was the only woman to win in two fields and the only person to win in multiple sciences.  She is best known for her research on radioactivity. Enroll your little scientist in Enrichment Classes at the Science Research and Educational Institute of Texas. Classes start as young as 3 years old and cover everything from animal studies and exploring taste to robotics and brain dissection.  You can also explore the H-E-B Science Treehouse at the Witte Museum for more inspiration.
Read About It: Marie Curie: Scientist Who Made Glowing Discoveries by Mike Venezia

And for those girls that you just can’t tear away from the princesses: Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth_I_Armada_Portrait_British_SchoolLongtime ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth I was the ultimate woman in power. She is known for re-establishing the Church of England and ending the war with France. Celebrate this inspirational woman and her love of theater by attending a show at Majik Theater. Afterwards, have afternoon tea at Madhatter’s Tea House & Cafe (crowns optional).
Read About It: Who Was Queen Elizabeth? by June Eding and Nancy Harrison[divider_flat]

What type of girl is your daughter?

Brooke graduated high school from right here in San Antonio. After twelve years of living everywhere from Colorado to Greece, London to Atlanta, she and her husband have made San Antonio home and have become parents to their daughter and son. Brooke loves finding undiscovered activities around the city and dragging her kids along! She is a runner, an amateur cook that loves trying out San Antonio’s growing culinary scene and is actively involved in non-profit organizations in San Antonio.


  1. Great post Brooke! I am a firm believer that it is so important for parents to tap into what their children’s love and interests are and become advocates to enhance those interests.
    I would like to add one of my favorite women to your list, Helen Keller. Not just for children with special needs, but also for all children to realize that being “different” is a very special and wonderful thing.
    In San Antonio we are so fortunate to have Morgan’s Wonderland, A great park for children. It is run by volunteers, it’s clean, friendly and best of all all rides are equipped for people with special needs.
    A book to recommend for younger children: A Picture Book of Helen Keller (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler and a DVD: Helen Keller (2009)
    Love you,
    Honey (Mom)

    “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” ― Helen Keller

  2. These are some great resources Brooke, especially for the daughter like ours who is a tomboy through and through and wants nothing to do with princesses. These are great avenues to reinforce becoming a strong, inspirational lady!

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