The Perfect Body

This week in Girl Rising...

How this makes me feel is don't let someone make you think that you are not important
because you are important to this world. Don't let them steal your joy. I love you
and your joy. Don't put on makeup because the real you is beautiful. If they don't
that then I do. 

If people were more concerned with how they
looked on the inside then the outside, the
world would be a nicer place to exist.
Happiness and confidence are the prettiest
things you can wear. Outer beauty
pleases the eye, inner beauty
captivates the heart.

After last week's magical moments of sharing our insecurities, this week was all about discovering the root of the problem. Where do we get these ideas of not feeling good enough? 

I gave the girls the challenge of drawing a picture of a girl with the "perfect body". They split up and separated from each other to make sure that their ideas were not influenced by someone else's. This is what they came up with: 

We came back together to make a list of what qualities make up the "perfect body". They told me things like blonde hair, short in height, skinny, clear skin, and long, flowy hair. I asked them where we get these ideas from and together, we came to the conclusion that we see those qualities in princesses, dolls, models, and actresses. We looked around the room and realized that all of us don't really look like those people. I posed the questions: Does that mean I'm ugly? Does that mean I'm not good enough? Does that make those women better than me? All of the girls quickly confirmed that even though we're different, we are just as beautiful. 

After, we watched this video. I wanted to show the girls that the beautiful women we see in magazines and on TV are, more times than not, completely digitally altered. As girls, we spend so much time trying to be something that was actually created by a computer. The women that we idolize in the media have flaws and imperfections just like you and me. 

Then we watched another video to show that we see ourselves differently than the way the people in our lives see us. Sometimes, we spend so much time picking on our imperfections that we fail to see the qualities that make us unique and beautiful. The insecurities that we talked about last week are all that we can see. However, the people in our lives that love us don't see those imperfections at all. Instead, they only see our beauty, our talents, our shining personality that sets us apart from the rest. This video highlights that sometimes people see us better than we see ourselves. 

I encourage you to finish this sentence: 
I am beautiful because ____________. 


Voicing our insecurities

Oh my goodness, this week was MAGICAL. I almost wish someone else was in the room to witness the amazingness that occurred. I'm not even sure how to describe it to y'all but I'll try my best. 

This week's meeting was about bringing our insecurities to light by sharing them with others. I know it seems like such a sad topic but I'm planning on building on this topic in the following weeks and it will all come full circle. I started the meeting getting everyone together and I opened up to them about all of the things in my life that had made me feel inadequate or insecure. I pretty much told them everything and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I told them things that many of my friends and family don't even know. It was difficult, but I did it for two reasons: 1. to make them feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable too and 2. for those that may have similar feelings, they can rest assured knowing they're not alone. The girls were really interested in my story and it felt so freeing to share my story with them. 

When I told the girls they were going to share their insecurities with their friends in a small group, some of them immediately had a look of fear on their face. I expressed to them the importance of sharing because when we are able to voice the feelings that cripple us on a daily basis with someone, they become much less sad. When we share our feelings of self-doubt with others, it becomes much easier to keep sharing our story and it allows others, who might be struggles with the same thing, to feel as though they're not alone. Instead of allowing the feeling to have all the power, we can put the power back in our hands by opening up. 

The girls met in their small groups and took turns sharing with one another. It was beautiful to watch them listen and support each other. One that really got me was when one of my 3rd grade girls opened up about how much she dislikes her freckles. She could barely get the words out before she put her hand over her face and started to cry. The girls in her group immediately embraced her and told her that they love her. It was amazing. I was a mess just watching it happen. 

We met again as a whole group at the end and I gave them to opportunity to share if they felt comfortable. I was surprised by how many of them were willing to share their story. It was heartbreaking to listen to, but magical at the same time. There were so many tears but it was truly a turning point for Girl Rising. When we meet again this Thursday, I know that we won't be the same because we have connected on such an authentic level. They now know so much about me and I know so much about them. We share something so special. I have been forever changed and I hope the girls feel that way too. 

"Don't let comparison steal your joy."


Girls can do anything boys can do

This past Thursday's meeting of Girl Rising was truly inspiring. I finally had the opportunity to teach them something and the girls had the opportunity to share with one another.  In just 2 meetings, the girls and I have developed a deeper bond with each other that makes my heart so happy. Even though I already had a relationship with all 20 of the girls, it's wonderful to have this group to share our thoughts and feelings with each other. Girl Rising gives each of us the platform to develop our passions and grow into better people. Honestly, this club is just as meaningful and transformative to me as it is to them. I am truly blessed. 

Like I said in last week's post, the girls were each given a journal in which they can write their thoughts/feelings on a particular quote. I decided that we would spend the first few minutes of every meeting giving them time to share the ideas they wrote. I didn't really have high expectations for this week's journals being that it was their first time, but WOW. I was blown away by the critical thought and emotion that many of the girls put into their journal entries. These girls are between the ages of 7-9 and I was amazed by the mature reflections they were able to come up with. Here is one of my favorites: 

A girl should be two things: who and what she wants. 
A girl/woman should be anything she would love and deserves. 
No matter what people say. She knows her own rights. Keep working harder 
and climb the mountain to her dreams. Stand up and the show the world! 

Unbelievable. Can you believe a 3rd grader wrote that? If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will. 

I divided the girls up into groups and gave each group an index card that assigned them something to draw. They had to work together together to complete the task. The 4 assignments were: 
Draw a person who helps put out fires. Give that person a name. 

 Draw a person who teaches kids. Give that person a name. 

Draw a person who fixes cars. Give that person a name. 

Draw a person who helps the doctor in the hospital. Give that person a name. 

So as you can see, the nurse was a girl, the mechanic was a boy, and the teacher was girl. However, the group that did the firefighter decided to make it a girl! After this activity, we talked about gender stereotypes and and women and men are expected to do different things in this world. We made a list of "boy things" and "girl things". It was funny because many of them were saying that they enjoy a lot of the things we listed as "boy things". However, when I turned it around and asked if it's okay for a boy to do ballet or for a boy to play with dolls, they were slightly confused. I'm not sure how convinced they were on boys doing girls things but I expressed to them the importance of not being limited by one's gender. The most important thing to me about this group is that I expose them to information they didn't know before and plant the seed for future conversations. 

The quote for next week's meeting is: 

"Don't ever let them silence you, girl. 
You are sensational. What you have to say is important, it is relevant. 
You are undeniable. 
You are capable, indescribable, and revolutionary.
You are beautiful."

The girls will be writing their thoughts on this quote during the week and I'm sure they will impress me once again with their profound words of self-love and empowerment. :)