Following a packed family craft event on the Waterstones Piccadilly shop floor, Bright Group, Bloomsbury and Yasmeen Ismail concluded the highly anticipated launch of I’m A Girl with an exclusive evening function on the lower ground level. Canapés, bubbly and signed books greeted a host of leading publishing individuals including Chris Haughton, Wendy Cooling, A.F Harrold, Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, Mark Chambers and the Bloomsbury team.
Behind the Book – I’m A Girl
Words by Yasmeen Ismail
With my third book for Bloomsbury Publishing UK, “I’m A Girl”, (Out in the UK in August 2015), I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. There is a lot out there just for ‘girls’ or just for ‘boys’, and in the past it was an option for me to do very gender-specific work. When confronted with the idea it made me terribly uncomfortable. I didn’t want to compartmentalise children into genders. Why should they be told that something is not for them, or that they SHOULD like something specifically ‘girly’ or ‘for boys’?
I didn’t want to contribute to a societal pressure that forces children to curb their ideas by what sex they are. When you tell children that something is only for a boy or only for a girl you are narrowing their options for life. They will feel anxious about who they are. And when they get to a stage of figuring out that maybe they aren’t ‘girly’ or ‘macho’ enough, or maybe they think they might be gay, or transgender, or that they just want to do what they want without judgement, these messages we have hammered into them can be very destructive to their emotional well-being.
So I decided that I would contribute something different; An antidote to the gender stereotypes and I wrote “I’m a Girl”.
“I’m a Girl” is not about being a ‘girl’ or a ‘boy’, it’s about being a kid with no limits. It’s about not being ashamed or embarrassed for who you are or what you do. It’s living without that fear of being judged for liking something or being a certain way. Let’s just let kids be kids and let them be free to take the time to figure out who they want to be. If you want to be girly, great, if you want to only wear blue for the rest of your life, fine, if you want to be a doctor, or an artist, or a pilot, why not? As long as the choice is yours.
The main character in my book is a little girl, and she is fast and strong and funny, and like any kid, she likes ice-cream and playing. There is no difference between her and other children. It’s a light take on what it means to be a child, one who doesn’t differentiate herself based on her sex, but knows herself as who she wants to be and what makes her happy.