Category: Blog

Celebrate her for what she does, not what she looks like

Picture a girl who is 12 years old. A girl with short, spiky, gelled hair. And braces. A girl who stands already at 6 feet tall, a head above most of her teachers. A girl described as “gangly” by others and as “ugly” by her own words. A girl who has less than a drop of self-confidence, desperately looking for validation.

That girl was me.

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If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would think, “I don’t really care as long as I’m pretty.” I truly believed that the worth of a woman was dependent on her level of attractiveness. I got so much attention when I was younger. I was so cute before, but now, at 12, my cuteness abandoned me. No more “awwwws.” No more pinched cheeks. No more attention.

I felt worthless.

How many hours did I spend glaring at the mirror and naming my flaws? Nose too big. Thighs too wide. Too damn tall. And what if I added that to how many days I spent comparing myself to airbrushed images? Her skin so perfect. Her curves just right. What if we multiply that by every girl in our society who has responded in kind to the pressure to be physically beautiful? The self-harm. The isolation. The plastic surgery. I can’t even begin doing the math for that equation.

We all know the mainstream media deserves a lot of the blame. Thin, beautiful, white women grace magazine covers. The movies I grew up with depicted women as the love interest for the leading man with no real story of her own. Songs on the radio told the story of heartbroken girls, doomed to unhappiness because they lost their man. That’s old news. But how are we, as everyday people, reinforcing these messages? I believe it’s in how we praise our girls.

I was sitting on a park bench in Berkeley when I saw a little girl, no more than 5, in a bright yellow dress skip-walking down the path, wildly swinging the hand of her grown up. She yell-sang a song about “froggies” on a log. Every time she sang the words “hop-hop” it was accompanied by, you guessed it, two big jumps and an eruption of giggles.

I heard a lady a few benches before me say to her, “Well, aren’t you the cutest girl I ever did see?” I watched as a couple passing the girl stopped to tell her, “You look so pretty in your yellow dress!” She beamed at the compliments and flitted her hand as she sang, “Thank youuuuuuuuu!”

In my years of working with youth, I learned that young people (and all people, really) respond best to positive reinforcement. Celebrating behavior tends to make kids want to repeat that behavior. So, when the majority of celebrations girls hear directly correlate to their appearance, it can have devastating effects. It strengthens the idea that for a girl to be valued, she must look a certain way. So. Much. Pressure. Pressure to be something you cannot control. Pressure that manifests in self-harm, self-hatred, and unhealthy competitive behavior between girls.

At Go Girls! Camp, we work with awareness to celebrate our girls for what she can DO! What she can MAKE! What she can DISCOVER! So when the yellow-clad girl passed my bench I made a point to take another route.

“Did you make up that amazing song you’re singing?” I asked.

She gave a little nod and smile as she twisted the hem of her dress.

“That is one of the coolest songs I ever heard. I love froggies!” (The last part was yell-sung in the same tune she had made up.)

“Thank you! Me too!” she squealed and went hop-hopping away.

I know that the lady on the bench and the couple in the park who praised that little girl were only trying to be nice. To make her feel good. I get it. The truth is… she was cute. She oozed with adorable-ness. It can be hard not to celebrate that.

Appearance, to an extent, is luck of the draw. You can’t control your hair type. The shape of your nose. The fullness of your lips. Your bone structure. These things are not ACCOMPLISHMENTS, they are something you HAVE. Where is the power in finding validation through that? Is it not more empowering to be validated about something you CAN control? Like what you do? What you think? What you imagine? And no matter how much outward beauty one possesses, it will fade. Our society pushes women to find worth in something that will inevitably fail them in the future. It makes me heart-sick how we set up our girls to grow into women full of emotional turmoil. With time, youthful beauty may fade, but knowledge grows. Skills strengthen. Discoveries deepen.

I am not suggesting we never praise girls for their appearance. I am suggesting that we validate them for other things more often, especially the first time we meet them.

I spent so much time as a girl hating myself for looking a certain way. Imagine if I had used that time to learn. To grow. To try new things. To build skills. I wish I could hold 12 year old Hannah and tell her these things. I wish I could whisper to her that she is just right as she is. I wish I could praise her for what an amazing athlete she is. How fun and adventurous she is. How easily she can make people laugh. How much power she has within her.

I know these things now. How did I learn to love myself? Through a lot of suffering and mistakes. Like hurting myself. Like starving my body. Like a nose job at 16. Like addiction. I punished myself because I couldn’t DO anything to be pretty. I didn’t understand I was just right already. That I was worthy of my own love.

This is why I do what I do. I dedicate my time, my energy, and my gifts to help girls love themselves. The funny thing is, I don’t have the power to just hand them self-love. All girls have that love inside them already. I just work to help them unlock it. And never lose the key.

Challenge:

Give a girl in your life a compliment on something other than how she looks. Ask her what she is proud of that she can do or that she can accomplish. Take one small, easy step to help unlock her personal power. How did she respond? Share with us!

The Go To Go Girl!: Saying the RIGHT Thing or Saying SOMEthing

“Wow! That was sexist.”

The words flew out of mouth like they were speeding through a yellow light. They surprised me as a heard them. The tone in my voice made me cringe. It was a little condescending and a lot aggressive. For days after I hurled those words at someone, I could not stop replaying the interaction in my mind or decide how I felt about it. So I reached out to my community for their perspective. I told them the whole story, which went something like this…

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The Go To Go Girl!: What My Dreadlocks Taught Me About Practicing Compassion

With music up, ear buds in, working in a cafe in Oakland, I was interrupted by a woman. I noticed her the moment I walked in and stood in line to order my latte. She was striking. Colorful clothing and adorned by big statement jewelry. I also noticed her almost-mohawk hairstyle. Very cool. After sitting near her for about an hour, she walked over to me and asked me a question. I missed it because of the ear buds.

“I’m sorry?” I asked.

“Are you white?” she reiterated.

Read more

Activity: Honorary Go Girls!

What do all of these folks have in common?  They all showed the world just how amazing they were by the time they 18 years old!  Both historical and contemporary, these bold and brave women and girls inspire us to #BeAmazing ourselves.

This Women’s History Month, we have identified 12 “Honorary Go Girls!” who have changed/are changing history by being true to themselves and following their dreams.

We invite you to:

  1. Download the Honorary Go Girls! 2016 PDF.
  2. Learn about these 12 inspirational girls/women.
  3. Answer the reflection questions associated with each story.
  4. Share your reflections with us here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on Instagram using the hashtag #BeAmazing.

Anyone can participate.   It doesn’t matter your age, these Go Girls! can motivate all of us to move a little closer to our best selves!

 

 

 

11 Amazing Reasons Why You Should Work for Go Girls! Camp

By now you might already know how amazing Go Girls! Camp is for the girls who join us each summer. Maybe your daughter continues to join us year after year. Or maybe you’ve attended one of our free webinars. Maybe you’re across the country, or the world, and while the Go Girls! in your life might not be able to attend camp, maybe you want to keep up with us anyway.

But what you might not already know is that working at Go Girls! Camp is just as fun as attending!

 

Help prepare girls to lead a Compassion Revolution

This one is a no brainer. Every day at Go Girls! Camp we use our own methodology to inspire and reinforce social/emotional skills in our campers. We do this in a variety of fun ways, and we break down what seems complicated into bite-sized pieces in our Culture Code.

 

Wear cool Go Girls! gear

Lets face it: Who doesn’t want to wear one of our amazing logos on every piece of clothing possible?! Our staff gets access to new designs, colors, and styles as well as an excuse to wear their gear as much as possible!

 

Make a play and change the world

Can a play really change the world? We definitely think so. Seeing the transformation many of our campers experience from the first day of camp to the moment they take their final bow is a pretty transformative experience for our staff members, too.

 

Gain amazing professional and personal development at staff training

We want our staff to feel empowered by their work at Go Girls! Camp, so our training is a lot more than camp policy and powerpoint presentations. You’ll immerse yourself in our program, Culture Code, and methodology as you make new friends and prepare your own play, just like our Go Girls! do.

 

Free massages mid-summer

At Go Girls! Camp we know that doing amazing, life-changing work is part of why our staff joins us and keeps returning for more. But we also know that work like that is HARD. So every summer our staff comes together for a little R-and-R, Go Girls! style.

 

Learn Kidpower

Go Girls! Camp works closely with Kidpower, an international leader in teaching positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities, both in our camps (during Kidpower sessions) and in our overall methodology. This partnership is great for our girls and staff members—we even find ourselves using Trash Can Power once in a while!

 

Work with an amazing team of artists

We think our staff members are the best of the best: inspiring leaders, compassionate teachers, and phenomenal artists. And you could join the ranks! Besides being talented in their respective disciplines, our expressive artists are generous teachers to campers and other staff.

 

End every day of camp with a dance party

Our camp days are pretty long and while they’re filled to the brim with fun activities, free play, and time to chill, we think the best way to end the day and prepare to start fresh in the morning is to have a camp-wide dance party! Now tell us, how many other jobs can offer that as a perk?

 

Practice mindfulness each day of camp

We love approaching all of our work from a place of mindfulness, but sometimes the day-to-day gets in the way. At Go Girls! Camp we not only emphasize this practice, we make special time for it. We think it’s a great way to reconnect, recharge, and avoid burnout.

 

Learn from Lynn and Allison

Our co-founders are amazing leaders and some of the most inspiring women we know. Working with Go Girls! Camp means working directly with and learning from Lynn and Allison. They’re always popping into camp, leading Kidpower workshops, and working with staff to make sure everyone is getting the most from their Go Girls! Camp experience.

 

Be celebrated for exactly who you are!

Our two-week camp leads up to the “big show” at each location, where Go Girls! not only create the story but also get to be who—or what—ever they want to be. Robot Monkey? Check. The President?  Duh. Robot Monkey President?  Why not? All we’re asking this summer is that they aim to #BeAmazing. And that goes for our staff members, too!

Are you sold? Check out our job openings here!

#BeAmazing & The 10th Anniversary of Glitter & Razz

Did you know that 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of our business, Glitter & Razz Productions?

Back in 2006 when Allison and I made the bold & brave decision to take this little summer camp we had be doing for a few years in San Francisco and turn it into something bigger.  We registered our business name, got our tax id number, opened a bank account, and set up shop.

Allison and me in one of our very first promotional photos for Glitter & Razz.
Allison and me in one of our very first promotional photos for Glitter & Razz.

This is why this year’s theme – #BeAmazing – is so important to us.  After a decade of saying yes to ourselves and our vision, celebrating our successes, learning from our failures, and working with hundreds of amazing kids, families, and teaching artists – we know first hand just how powerful and impactful it is when women and girls take center stage.  The idea behind our #Be Amazing theme is that 600 girls will take a virtual journey across Earth, Water, Sky, and Space declaring just how amazing we are.  Imagine the changes that kind of declaration can have on our world!

So, when we thought about how to best capture the spirit of this this theme, we, of course, turned to an artist.  And not just any artist.  We called Hannah Hammond-Hagman.  Hannah was the very first art teacher we ever hired back in 2003 – before we were a business of our own – running “Glitter & Razz Summer Theater Workshops” at the Marsh Youth Theater in San Francisco.  We LOVED Hannah.  Everyone did!  So much so that we worked together for a couple of years and became good friends.  Allison and I have a number of Hannah’s pieces in our home, including original multi-media pieces that she created especially for our wedding in 2006 (yes…another important 10 year anniversary!)

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2016 Camp Poster

Because of all of this, I knew that Hannah was the perfect person to create our #BeAmazing image.  She enthusiastically agreed to do it (with a very tight turnaround, thank you very much) and now this gorgeous piece of art exists in the world.  I am honored that the original 30in x 22in piece is hanging in our home and I am grateful that I get to share it with all of you as part of our camp posters and postcards (graphic design by the very talented Jessica Arana).

The Go Girls! Camp #BeAmazing Expo:

To introduce #BeAmazing to our community, we are hosting a free event in San Francisco that we would love for you to attend – The Go Girls! Camp #BeAmazing Expo will be held at the Innovation Hangar on Saturday March 19 from 10am-12pm.  In celebration of Women’s History Month, there will be games and play and art-making for the entire family as well as some education about girls and women who have dared to declare themselves and change the world.  We hope to see you there!

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

HHHpicHannah Hammond-Hagman is a working artist residing in her Midwestern hometown after years on the East and West coasts. In her work over the past twenty years in arts education and arts and cultural non-profits, she has had the privilege to work with students from kindergarten to college age in the classroom and out in the community.  She remains committed to producing and designing creative curriculum and events that promote creative economic development and placemaking from the neighborhood level to the state level. She believes in the power of the arts to transform lives and communities, and nourishes this idea in her pedagogical practice, her studio practice, and her personal life.

Most recently, she has co-founded Community Supported Arts Valparaiso, a program that supports local artists in the creation of new works by selling future shares from those artists. The program has grown regionally in its second year. Learn more at csartvalpo.com.

Hannah earned her Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from Indiana University, Bloomington. She lives in her hometown with her husband and son.

Take Center Stage: A Free Webinar for Educators

Wednesday February 17 at 3:30pm EST

In this free 45-minute online webinar, I will share:

  • The story behind Go Girls! Camp and how we have inspired hundreds of Bay Area girls (and boys) over the past decade
  • The art & science of our Go Girls! Culture Code, our 5-point social/emotional methodology that helps girls step into their peaceful and powerful selves:
    • Say Yes! – I am ready for anything.  I say yes to keep the fun going.  I say no to keep myself safe.
    • Give & Take – I give to others and I am happy.  I take in the good and I am healthy.  I am a Go Girl! and I belong.
    • Make Mistakes – I am not perfect.  I celebrate myself for learning and trying.  I get to grow and change.
    • Feel My Feelings – I feel happy and angry and everything in between.  I can act calm…even if I’m not.  I am just right as I am.
    • Take Center Stage – I make bold and brave choices.  I have the power of my voice, body & imagination.  I am part of the whole play.
  • A few practical examples of how we integrate social/emotional learning and the arts to create a learning environment that is safe, loving, and fun while also providing opportunities for healthy risk-taking
  • Ways to get your students involved in our programs including: Go Girls! Camp (for rising 1st-4th graders), our Go Girls!/Reel Stories (for rising 5th and 6th graders) and our Go Girls! Leadership Team (rising 7th-9th graders)
  • Answers to any questions you have!

When you RSVP, you will be entered to win a free spot in one of our camp sessions for a girl of your choice!

If you are interested but cannot attend the live webinar, please RSVP anyway. 

That way, you will receive a link to the recorded webinar and can watch it whenever it is convenient for you.

PrintEveryone who RSVPs will receive a free copy of my e-book by the same name, Take Center Stage: Supporting the Social/Emotional Health of Our Girls. 

Meet Artist Christy Booth

Christy headshotChristy has worked at Go Girls! Camp as an Expressive Artist for the past couple of years.  She has created  gorgeous work with the girls as well as out-of-this-world handmade costumes for our big show.  And now,  she is sharing her art with you on the Go Girls! store.

Christy first pondered the therapeutic powers of art as a child, enjoying the transcendent experience of creating. After working as an art and sewing teacher for numerous years, she decided to become an Expressive Arts Therapist, and is almost finished with school at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Christy loves working for Go Girls!, empowering girls to create boundaries, be connected to each other, and feel their feelings, fearlessly!

 

Dolls for All: Toys Like Me Campaign Pushes for Greater Representation

ad_169112219-e1431617156591The toy and game industry isn’t exactly a widely representative industry. There are a number of campaigns to remove the gender distinction from toys and to represent children’s interests, which are deeper than “boy” or girl.”

But another issue with today’s toys is that they don’t represent the multitudes of differences between individual kids. Toy Like Me, a Facebook campaign in the UK recently called for greater representation of children with disabilities. In response, the UK doll-maker Makies began producing accessories for their dolls, including hearing aids and canes, and developed a special doll with a birthmark.

Makie dolls are made-to-order dolls designed to look like their new owners and are available in both girl and boy characters. Gift givers can enter “Advanced Mode” to customize the doll down to the “ferocity” of its eyebrows (naturally the doll I created had incredibly ferocious eyebrows).

According to an article in Metro UK, Makies is currently developing a character with a wheelchair and hopes to develop a system for creating custom facial characteristics—meaning parents will soon be able to create a doll with the same birthmarks as their children!

While this is a victory for many, the Toy Like Me campaign is continuing to push for companies like Hasbro, Mattel, and other big companies to step up their representation, too.

A Letter Unwritten

Author’s note: This entry is long. But you should read to the end. Honest!

Rowyn, Rachel, and Esther “Sure, I would love to blog for Go Girls!” That’s what I said when Lynn asked me about the writing component of this gig. I love to write, I love Go Girls!, I feel lucky to be part of this glorious, dynamic team and the work it does.

But blogging is hard for me, I’ve discovered. Bloggers write about all of their own stuff, from their own lives. They put their personal opinions out there. They share the bits that hurt them and scared them and scarred them and forced them to grow. Blog posts are like intimate letters you write to everybody. And I’m not gregarious like that (if you don’t count my career as a performer. But that’s different—really!) I am deeply ambivalent about these love letters to the world. I’ll send you one, and you alone, or maybe you. But to everybody? I just don’t know…

Which is why I am not yet ready to write what I want to write about Mother’s Day, what I need to write. Alexis wrote so wonderfully about the day in her blog, and my reaction was one big “Yes!” But a day devoted to mothers still presses on a bruise so purple and deep that I know I don’t yet have much clarity or wisdom around it. I still just keep banging the bruise against the edge of the couch, and yowling

But the writer Anne Lamott has written something sharp and subversive and loving about Mother’s Day. Can you keep reading for awhile longer? Her words cradle and sooth me and perk me up, and I read them even when it’s not the month of May. You should read them, too… (P.S. I do not, like her, hate Valentine’s Day, so keep those cards and chocolates comin’!)

Here’s her piece “Why I hate Mother’s Day,” originally published by Salon:

“I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. I didn’t want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure. Perhaps Mother’s Day will come to mean something to me as I grow even dottier in my dotage, and I will find myself bitter and distressed when Sam dutifully ignores the holiday. Then he will feel ambushed by my expectations, and he will retaliate by putting me away even sooner than he was planning to — which, come to think of it, would be even more reason to hate Mother’s Day.María with Mommy

But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.

The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.

I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. Even the turn-off-your-cellphone announcer is going to open by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.

It should go without saying that I also hate Valentine’s Day.

Mothering has been the richest experience of my life, but I am still opposed to Mother’s Day. It perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. (Meanwhile, we know the worst, skeeviest, most evil people in the world are CEOs and politicians who are proud parents.)

Rachel with MommyDon’t get me wrong: There were times I could have literally died of love for my son, and I’ve felt stoned on his rich, desperate love for me. But I bristle at the whispered lie that you can know this level of love and self-sacrifice only if you are a parent. We talk about ‘loving one’s child’ as if a child were a mystical unicorn. Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly feel that if you have not had and raised a child, your capacity for love is somehow diminished. Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly believe that non-parents cannot possibly know what it is to love unconditionally, to be selfless, to put yourself at risk for the gravest loss. But in my experience, it’s parents who are prone to exhibit terrible self-satisfaction and selfishness, who can raise children as adjuncts, like rooms added on in a remodel. Their children’s value and achievements in the world are reflected glory, necessary for these parents’ self-esteem, and sometimes, for the family’s survival. This is how children’s souls are destroyed.

But my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, even after their passing.

No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior. You want to give me chocolate and flowers? That would be great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother our children. But if you are going to include everyone, then make mine something like M&M’s, and maybe flowers you picked yourself, even from my own garden, the cut stems wrapped in wet paper towels, then tin foil and a waxed-paper bag from my kitchen drawers. I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all.”