Free to Be You and Me

free-to-be-you-and-me.jpgToday, Kate shares an oldie that, nearly 40 years later, remains a (sociologically oriented) goodie:

If you grew up in the 1970s, as I did, chances are that you owned (and loved) the album Free to Be You & Me. Conceived and produced by Marlo Thomas, the album -- and eventual book and television special -- grew out of a project of the Ms. Foundation and was an effort to provide children with positive messages about gender roles.
Thomas recruited her friends -- many of the top entertainment names of the era -- to contribute their talents to the album, which was released in 1972 and features songs with stereotype-busting titles such as 'It's All Right to Cry,' 'William's Doll,' and 'Girl Land.' And while the project could have turned out dull and hectoring, it's sweetness and sense of humor instead made it an instant classic. The songs are catchy and smart, and infused with an innocence and joy that makes them irresistible.

I recently revisited Free to be You and Me with my daughter, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the vast majority of the songs and ideas have held up well, despite the passage of years. And the songs that feel dated -- those about princesses opting not to marry their prince, and about mothers liking to work -- serve to remind us of how far we have progressed toward something closer to gender equality. My daughter now loves the album just as much as I did, and I'm happy to know that a new generation is benefiting from the wonderful work of Thomas and the Ms. Foundation.