When illustrator Meaghan Elderkin of Rhode Island was a child, her mother would draw on napkins and pack them in her lunches. So when Meaghan’s daughter Holden started preschool, it seemed like a no-brainer that the napkin drawing tradition would continue.
Originally, many of the illustrated notes Elderkin would make had clever, punny animal drawings, but after being incredibly disappointed by the presidential election results, Elderkin’s napkins became tributes to inspiring women.
"I had brought both of my daughters to the polling place with me to vote and I had been talking to my oldest daughter about the historical significance of electing the first female president," She told UK publication Metro.
"After the election results came in, all I could think of was that we had let her down. So I wanted to do something to remind my daughter (and myself I think) that women are amazing and capable and brave, even though it may not always feel like we are."
Here are some of the women that have graced her napkins since the election:
Though some people might think "feminism" is a bad word, Elderkin nailed it when she wrote on her blog, "The thing about Feminism is that it's not a bad word. It's simply a word that means 'the advocacy of women's rights.' In other words, it means supporting the idea that women are equal to men. That's it. It doesn't mean, 'man-hating' or the idea that women are superior (although, have you ever seen a man with a head cold vs a woman in active labor? But I digress...).”
I think what Elderkin is doing simply by regularly exposing her daughter to powerful women is POWERFUL and has the power to change how women are treated and valued in just a couple of generations. Imagine what could happen if more parents followed Elderkin's example. We might not all be able to draw as well as she does to create these bite-size lessons in feminism on the daily, but we can all talk to our children and familiarize them with the many incredible women who have changed—and are changing—the world for the better.
Let's be honest: We live in a society that does not always value, celebrate or publicize the accomplishments, wisdom or contributions of women. History really does end up sounding like it's "his" story because women's stories are often left out. Every once in awhile, children hear about women like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony or Rosa Parks, but these women end up seeming like exceptions to the rule that great men make great history and women politely stand behind them (unless they're pushy bitches).
Enough of that nonsense. Elderkin found a way to be the change and so can we. It starts at home, people. Be the change.