Today’s “Author Talk” with Daniel Barnhart… author of Messy Anne Meets the Monstrosity
Why is it important that she’s a girl?
D: Well, for all the reasons I mentioned above, about children and pressures and role models. Girls face that so much more than boys. I’m not saying boys don’t face it, but I don’t think it’s so defining.
Give an example.
D: The whole body image for one. The subtle cues that you are defined in relationship to a man and all that. There’s an insistent media push that automatically plays either to or against stereotype. Girls are either plain/smart, pretty/smart, pretty/dumb, plain/wallflower etc. etc.. It’s hard to find a woman character—and I’m not saying there aren’t—just that it’s hard to find a girl/woman character that isn’t defined somehow by the stereotype and stereotypical expectations that are predominantly from a male point of view.
And so Messy Anne is a girl.
D: Hopefully she’s just a person. A person that boys and girls can identify with. But I did make her a girl for a reason; so that boys and girls (because at that age they can) will identify with a girl that’s not fancy or prissy or anti feminine but is just a complete and exceptional person that has nothing to do with if she’s a boy or a girl. And I think at that age they still accept it. Hopefully Messy Anne reinforces and helps it. You don’t have to be a boy to be bold and have adventures and still be intelligent and well-mannered.