In the summer of 2005, my daughter Madeline, who was then 16, and I squealed with delight (and startled a few of our fellow theater-goers) when a girl in the sleeper hit documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” plugged my 1994 book Why It’s Great To Be A Girl.
In the documentary, several groups of 11-year-olds in mostly inner-city schools face the highs, the heartbreaks, and sometimes the humiliation of competitive ballroom dancing. In the scene that was, of course, our favorite, some of the girls are complaining about the attitudes, behaviors, and the “givens” about their male partners. “Why,” bristled Emma, “do THEY always get to lead?” There is a thoughtful silence. Then Emma, who the film’s website (www.paramountclassics.com/madhot) describes as a “typical New York kid [who] always has something meaningful to say” and who “stands out as the girl who is wise beyond her years,” suddenly blurts out, “Look, I read this book called Why It’s Great To Be A Girl, and I learned that...”
My daughter and I were so excited that we barely heard her exact words, just that they were extremely positive. And we both came away with the opinion that the book, in at least some small way, contributed to Emma’s confidence and her ability to speak up when it’s important.