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After 98 Years, a Makeover for the Girl Scouts

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Kate Tuttle:Some symbols have been around so long they just seem like part of the landscape: the golden arches of McDonald's, Disney's magic castle and the green-and-white logo of the Girl Scouts. Oh, wait -- scratch that last one. It seems that the Scouts have decided to make some changes to their iconic symbol, seeking to update and reinvigorate their image. And while I can understand the urge to change one's look, I'm not sure how I feel about this particular makeover.

Girl Scouts

It's not the first time that the Girl Scouts have gone through this. In 2008, the organization known for its cookies and its longstanding message of girl empowerment ditched the requirement that Scouts wear the same old green skirt that you and I remember from our girlhoods. The sash was kept, which makes sense -- because how else are you going to display your badges for camping, crafts or helping the elderly? But beyond that, the group said, it was time to modernize. Polyester-blend green skirts and white blouses gave way to T-shirts and khakis.

I think a lot of Scouts were probably glad to see the old uniforms go. I still recall the vague embarrassment at having to wear mine, although when I was very young, the embarrassment was also mixed with pride. Still, even a small child knows when she's standing out from the crowd, and while that works for some, for others it's cringeworthy.

Still, changing the logo feels less like something the Scouts are doing for the girls themselves and more like a silly corporate decision, the kind of reinvention that big companies do all the time, and that nobody really ever likes (remember "New Coke"?). In this case, it's not even a huge transformation -- the logo (which features a set of three girls' faces silhouetted over a trefoil shape) has changed only in some very small particulars: i.e., the girls have perkier noses, longer necks and bangs. In other words, like most of the images American girls grow up seeing, they look more like Barbie dolls and less like real people. Sigh.

I love the Girl Scouts. Unlike the Boy Scouts, they have always transmitted powerful messages of equality, compassion and kindness. But after a century spent molding young girls' characters, I wish they'd been able to hold on to the values of inner beauty and resist the urge to conform. Besides, as every girl knows, bangs go in and out of style every year or two; true friends will stick with you no matter what your hair looks like.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Stacie July 21, 2010, 9:17 AM

I was a girl scout when I was a little girl, and honestly? I didn’t even notice the difference to the logo. I’m also glad to hear of the change in uniforms—if only so that girls aren’t required to wear skirts. I think, all in all, the benefits of the organization outweigh any potential negative effects of the “Barbie-izing” of the logo.

Krista August 20, 2010, 8:39 PM

I live in Canada and we wore brown for brownies and then blue for girl guides which is canadian girl scouts. Most of us did where the dress, the pants were just starting to get introduced when I was in it and I’m 28.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 5:39 PM

Interesting info. Nice and fun reading. I’ve just got a single opinion to give about shirts.

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