Whether or not you grew up in the Girl Scouts, you’ve probably heard the Scout Pledge at least once in your life. You know… On My Honor, I Will Try, to…well, basically be fearless and fantastic?
Those were the days of sugary innocence, when you delved into day-camp and then couldn’t get “Make New Friends” out of your head, or when the Christmas ornament (which you hand-made by drenching it in red glitter) was the gift you couldn’t wait to give. And who could forget the cookies that you ran around the neighborhood selling, hyped up on Thin Mints and the prospect of winning a Lisa Frank sticker sheet?
But even though we look back and chuckle at all of that childhood innocence, I’ve discovered that our inner Girl Scouts have a lot to teach our adult-selves. In fact, those young’uns were at the pinnacle of becoming the perfect ladies, but somewhere down the road (culprit: middle school) many of us forgot about the songs, the friendship bracelets, and the mantras about loving ourselves regardless of weight or perceived rate of coolness (apparently watching the Victoria Secret Fashion Show and learning the art of self-deprecation through body-slamming comes later in life).
The proof of our evolving-selves is all over, as we see reality T.V. behavior seep into every corner of our culture. Don’t you think our inner Girl Scouts would frown if they saw us “cutting out” our best childhood friend, who we claim to have suddenly “grown out of?” Or how about when our inner-Scout sees us pinch our stomach fat the morning after a night of Screwdrivers and Sliders (I mean, you can’t have a night of fun with friends and achieve Victoria Beckham hotness-status. Duh.) Or how about when we let Mr. Suit-and-Tie tell us that we aren’t bold enough to spear-head the next presentation at work, and then we just complain about it to our friends (probably as we snowball into another night of Screwdrivers and Sliders)?
I know we’re not guilty of making every single one of these nauseating mistakes, but I also know that none of us are innocent either—at least not the sort of innocence that our former scrunchie-wearing selves would approve of. So here’s the new pledge, The Grown-up Girl Scout Pledge, that all women should post on their bathroom mirrors (and yes, that might mean taking down the “inspirational” photo of Jillian Michael’s abs that you torture yourself with every morning.):
On my honor, I will try:
- To be honest with myself when assessing my personal skills (Don’t let the barista job you got because of the sinking economy make you feel like you can’t be the career-woman you dreamed of becoming.) Despite what you’re told, just because your skills don’t fall into a LinkedIn category doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
- To be friendly to the guy in the bar who just flirted with you for fifteen minutes and then asked for your friend’s phone number. Yes, it’s a bummer, but maybe he’s shy and this is his first time ever experiencing human contact. Besides, if we’ve learned anything from Carrie and Mr. Big, it’s that love really is out there. With a lot of patience.
- To be considerate when you get married and are tempted to require your Maid-of-Honor to wear something even tackier than the teal, taffeta dress she made you wear in her wedding. Trust me, the only victim would be you, when it looks like you’re standing next to Snuffleupagus in your wedding photos.
- To be courageous when you ask for the raise you know you deserve at work. If your boss doesn’t give it to you, watch Office Space as a guide for what to do next.
- To be responsible for making your life exactly what you want it to be, even if it means taking tremendous risks. Always wanted to be a world traveler? Pack a bag, get to the airport, and take the first plane outta town. (Hint: if the next plane is to Oklahoma, grab a cup of coffee and wait an hour.)
- To respect this double dark-chocolate brownie by refusing to look at the calorie count (and reminding yourself that you are fabulous regardless of a number).
- To use resources to move up the corporate latter, even though it feels like a boy’s club every time you walk into the office.
So go put on your (imaginary) sash, make your mark in the world, and show your former Scout-self that you haven’t given up on the Pledge you were sworn to. And if you make some mistakes along the way and feel defeated by end of the week? Well, that’s why you bought a year’s supply of Thin Mints to gorge on.
A Girl Scout knows to always be prepared.
Let’s be honest: all of us savvy shoppers aren’t scouring our cities for bargain deals because we love itchy synthetics and crooked seams. Or because we love the sport of racing other espresso-crazed women to the last pair of AG jeans marked down at The Rack. We do it because we’re committed to looking like a million bucks—even though we know we’ll never see that much in our bank accounts.
We don’t skip to the “look for less” pages of our magazines because we’re not interested in the perfectly-pleated, dry-clean only, oh-so-soft designer pieces. We do it because copying Victoria Beckham’s wardrobe would cost us six months’ rent (on a diet of Lucky Charms). And while I’m being perfectly honest (and somewhat winey) let me say this: it’s just downright depressing that we have to work this hard to copy our dream wardrobe with less-than-satisfying substitutes.
And it’s just not our fashion horizons that the sun keeps setting on. It’s our home décor too. Sure, finding vintage, hand-painted tea cups at a quaint Maryland antique store seems like a great find. But not when you take them home and put them on the used vinyl kitchen table you bought on Craig’s List. All of a sudden the teacups aren’t vintage—they’re just old. And while you’re thinking about it, you never should have painted your walls bright blue to match Carrie Bradshaw’s trendy Manhattan apartment. It’s just not as glamorous when you live in a first-floor studio apartment in Kansas…and you used a hue that eerily resembles your college colours.
So obviously “looks for less” are pretty useless if you don’t have a few nicer pieces to pair with them. It’s the difference between this: “I just thought this vintage scarf from the thrift store…I really think it will compliment my Dooney and Bourke bag” and this: “I found these great bangles—all ten for 25 cents! And I still have enough money left to buy five Cup-o-Noodles for my lunches this week!”
There’s a very obvious difference between these statements.
And don’t get me wrong—I don’t think you have to buy shopping carts full of designer outfits to look good either (Shopping carts? Do they use those at Burberry, or is that just a Target thing?). But not every store we walk into has to be decorated with red and yellow clearance signs, either. There has to be variety in our wardrobes. So here are a few tips to get you started on your next shopping excursion:
- Look through a celebrity’s garbage. Over time they’ve accumulated lots of free clothes and not enough time to wear it all. Of course, you would have to be okay with eventually trading in that $200 dollar romper for an orange state-funded jumpsuit. So perhaps this is ill advised.
- If their garbage isn’t accessible (or orange isn’t in this year), just follow the news to see what they’re shopping for. When your favourite celebrity picks up that Spring Collection Coach purse, you march right over and pick up the matching key-chain. Your Superstore skirt will look much more sophisticated the second you pull out your house keys.
- Give up something else you typically pay for in the name of fashion. Do you really need to have someone come fix your air-conditioning unit? Be hard-core and tough it out for the summer (disclaimer: not recommended if you live in Phoenix).
But seriously, get out there and pair those clever finds with some of your more polished and sophisticated looks from home. Vintage is in. But don’t do yourself a disservice by turning shabby-chic into just shabby. Your discount, sunflower-yellow belt will look much better with a carefully tailored A-line dress than one that is half the cost and balloons out at the waist from poor stitching (Big Bird, anyone?). Bottom line: it’s about making smart choices and not imprisoning yourself only in cheap finds. And as an added benefit of paying more for that dress, it won’t unravel as you walk down the street like its cheaper counterpart might. This isn’t Hansel and Gretel—you don’t need to leave a trail to find your way home.
Now get out there and shop until your heart’s content, because all of us women deserve to feel like the princesses we are. And most importantly, remember this: no matter how much you love the finer things in life, you are beautiful no matter what you wear. Or, as the old adage goes: it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
After all, you wouldn’t buy that Hermes purse if it didn’t have a gorgeous silk lining, right?