Tag: girls empowerment

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.


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.


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!

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!)

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!


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.

Alex & Kathy

I am a Go Girl! because I am start, intelligent, creative, unique, and not any one thing.  We learn all kinds of things like the trash can tool.  They help you learn to get along with others.  If you are shy about performing in the show, you won’t be by the end of the two weeks.  The kids get to ACTUALLY write the play and the lady who founded Go Girls! comes and talks to all of us! ”

– Alex, a 7 year old Go Girl! since 2014

Alex & Kathy

“I am proud my daughter is a Go Girl! because of the spark and the shine it ignites in her. She would come home every day after camp so enthusiastic to talk about her new tools…many of them were similar to things they covered in elementary school, but somehow the way you are delivering the message is STICKING for these kids. My Go Girl! can be shy and sensitive but at camp she knows that’s ok and that makes room for her confident self to shine.  She sings the Go Girls! song over and over.  She just can’t get enough.”

– Kathy Lake, Marin mama




Francesca & Matthew

I am a Go Girl because I am a leader, friend, and someone who helps other people to be their best.”

– Francesca, age 13, a member of the Go Girls! Leadership Team &  Go Girl! since 2008

Francesca and Matthew

“Go Girls! helps to make real some of my loftiest goals as a Papa:  to set the stage for my daughter fully to become herself, with a love of life, a sense of adventure, a willingness to do the work of loving and caring for others, and loving and caring for herself.”

– Matthew Levett, an Oakland dad and attorney


Violet & Joyce

I am a Go Girl! because Go Girls! makes girls confident about who they are. I went from really shy to not so shy (but I am still a little shy) because the Go Girls! teachers helped me feel more strong and confident than I was feeling. They subtly taught us through exercises and art work. I like that we did the performance and that made me more confident about talking to others and not being afraid to speak up. Instead of walking with my arms crossed and looking down at the ground I’m walking proudly. Go Girls! has taught many girls to be proud of themselves instead of trying to change who they are. Go Girls! is an amazing camp!”

– Violet, age 9, a Go Girl! since 2013


Violet and Joyce

“When Violet started Go Girls! Camp 2 years ago, she was a sad and lonely child who felt friendless and powerless. My mother and I both noticed the amazing changes in her after that first summer. She would greet people! She started saying things like “I’m amazing!” She started being able to chat with the kids at school. Go Girls! truly helped her feel like she has worth, she matters, and she has something to say and to give the world. I am so very very grateful to Go Girls! for this.”

– Joyce Slaton, San Francisco mom, writer and blogger at BabyCenter.com


Help 300 Go Girls! Girl Up to Change the World

300 Go Girls Square May 2014300 Go Girls!
can create really, really big things

like 10 plays
in 4 cities
putting girls
center stage
300 characters
300 times more compassion
300 possibilities for what girls
can be
300 Go Girls! bring 
1000 audience members
to witness
600 dancing feet
300 voices singing
2000 hands clapping, cheering
“I wanna do that.”
“I wanna be that.”
“I wanna be a Go Girl! too.”
Hearts on fire and minds blown
300 Go Girls! can change the Bay Area
An army of awesome
cooler than your 1980’s leg warmers
Connected in Community
300 brave
300 inspired
300 safe
300 Go Girls! can Girl Up
300 Go Girls! can change the world

We believe so strongly in the magic and power of girls to change our world that we are ready to put this belief into action.  When Summer 2014 registration reaches the 300 mark, Glitter & Razz Productions will pledge $1000 to Girl Up, an innovative campaign of the United Nations Foundation.

IMG_2010Girl Up gives American girls the opportunity to become global leaders and channel their energy and compassion to raise awareness and funds for United Nations programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.

In addition to our organizational pledge, we are also training, supporting and preparing our Go Girls! Leadership Team to take action in the world in their own right.  Our middle school girls will be working this spring, summer, and beyond to lead their own campaign to support their peers around the world.  Through this work, they will:

  • Build awareness about the issues that face other girls in this country and around the world
  • Raise funds for the education, health, safety, and empowerment of girls in the developing world
  • Learn how they can influence policy and make a difference even as young people
  • Engage in local service projects that benefit our most vulnerable populations of girls here in the US

So, what can you do to be part of this movement?

  1. You can help us reach our goal of 300 Go Girls! by registering for Go Girls! Camp.
  2. If you are already registered for camp, thanks.  Help us spread the word by sharing this blog post with your community via Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Sign up for our Go Girls! Girl Up Action Newsletter so we can keep you updated about the progress of the Go Girls! Leadership Team.


Creative Geniuses: Meet the Women of Go Girls! Camp 2014

These are the incredible women who will be leading our approximately 300 Go Girls! on the journey of making and performing their own peaceful and powerful plays this summer.

[slideshare id=32853563&sc=no]

These are theater artists and expressive artists.  Some are dancers.  Some are musicians.  Some have been teaching with Go Girls! Camp for years.  Many are with us for the first time.  They are all deeply committed to the idea that girls and women making art together in bold and brave ways can and does change the world.


We all came together for 2 days in Oakland on March 22 & 23 for learning, connection, and inspiration.  New staff was introduced to and welcomed into the Go Girls! culture.  Allison and I shared our best practices for creating and leading engaging learning experiences that make kids feel safe at the same time encouraging them to take on new challenges. The best part, in my opinion anyway, is that we went through the process of making and performing our own play, just like the girls do.

IMG_1463And just like the girls, we experienced what it was like to share our ideas, put those ideas together, and share in the delight of what the “Script Fairies” do with those ideas once they are integrated into the final script.  Then, these women also deepened their empathy for the girls when they too had to learn their lines and cues and staging VERY FAST – the Go Girls! have a week…these women had about 2 hours.  Like our campers, these Go Girls! Creative Geniuses experienced every emotion from excitement to nerves to hesitation to confusion to exhilaration.  And just like our campers, these women practiced honoring and working through these emotions to share the gift of their play with a loving audience at the end.  As a result, the magic and power of theater…as it always does…bonded us together as a community, taught us so much about how to be better teaching artists this summer, and inspired us as individuals in so many ways.

So, get ready everyone…here we come…

More Than Texting & Chasing Boys

Photo Dec 01, 5 36 41 PM Yesterday, we hosted a holiday get-together for members of our Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT).  Allison and I had been very excited about this event for weeks.  Right before we met, we went to my favorite store (yes, Target) to buy all of the multiple sugar items that we would need.  When we paid for the items with our company card, the Target cashier (a woman) asked us “What kind of business do you have.”  I said, “We run a summer program for girls.” “Oh!  That’s cool,” she said. “Give them something better to do than texting and chasing boys.”


Our GGLT girls are some of my favorite people on the planet…no exaggeration.  I love them because they are brilliant, brave, funny, strong, creative, loving, and bold.  Many of our GGLT members have grown up with us in our program and seeing them grow into adolescence has been one of the biggest joys of my life.

The cashier’s statement makes me sad and angry that we live in a world where all of us (even women) stereotype adolescent girls in such limiting and potentially damaging ways.  I want that cashier (and you) to know all the things we did yesterday that have nothing to do with cell phones or boys…

  • We made and decorated sugar cookies and rice crispy treats.
  • We played Telephone Pictionary.
  • We created a gratitude garland featuring all the reasons we are so grateful to be Go Girls!.  The girls said things like:

I am grateful for being able to be a role model.”

I am grateful for the younger girls who actually listen to me!”

I am grateful for the Go Girls! teachers because they treat me like a teacher too, not like a kid.”

I am thankful for a community.”

I am just thankful that Go Girls! exists.”

  • We talked about some of the individual girls we worked with this past summer; sharing gratitudes for all of them, even the girls whose behaviors were more challenging…”I am grateful for the patience they taught me.”
  • We laughed…a lot.
  • We gave hugs and high fives and “see you this summer”s.

Photo Dec 01, 5 37 39 PMCan I say that cell phones never came out or that boys never came up in the conversation?  No, I definitely cannot claim that.  Those things are certainly important elements of a young girl’s life.  But, they are not the only parts and they are often not even the most important parts.  We have to stop villainizing adolescent girls.  We have to wake up and realize that they are not shallow, self-involved mean girls (or victims) who are on put on this planet to annoy us.  Adolescent girls are fun and silly and serious and smart and playful and powerful and possess the potential to lead us towards the better world we all want to live in.  Got it?

Now, I have to go.  I have to send a quick text.

The Practice Saying I’m Sorry

Once a problem arises in a relationship, the best way to begin the process of healing the rupture and rebuilding trust is for the offending party to offer an authentic apology. 

On the other side of forgiveness is saying “I’m Sorry” –  Taking responsibility for something that you have done that has hurt, upset, or inconvenienced someone else.  Saying sorry is both over and underused, I have noticed.  And both the over and under use of “I’m so sorry” are connected to a person ultimately not being able to take responsibility for her actions.

I’ll clarify.  Clearly, you can see why the under use is a problem.  Some people go through life with little regard for the fact that they are sharing the planet with others.  They cut people off.  They say mean things.  They generally disregard others as human.  And, because they are not seeing the other people as people, they feel no need to be remorseful.  No need to stand up and take responsibility for the fact that they have hurt another human.  So, they don’t say sorry.

There are other people who say sorry a lot.   they say sorry because every time they don’t return your phone call and every time they under-deliver “so sorry! just wasn’t able to get to it.”  As a recovering over-user, I see that this is not a good thing because, by relying on “I’m sorry” to get out of trouble (again), I can avoid the hard work of taking responsibility for my words and actions and changing my behavior.

And THEN, there is “the girl sorry.”  The sorry that is not actually attached to having done anything wrong.  The “I’m sorry” we want to say first thing we open our mouths…just in case we might do or say the “wrong thing” in the “wrong way” at “the wrong time.”  It’s the sorry that is not actually apologizing for our actions.  It’s the sorry that is apologizing for our whole existence.

We really have to learn how to get better at saying I’m sorry.

According to the science of apology, there are 3 components of a sincere and meaningful apology…this scenario my resonate for you…

  • Expressions of empathy – I see that you are angry because of what I have done.  You are frustrated because I put you in a tricky position by not giving you what you needed on time.
  • Offers of compensation – I promise I will get you what you need right away.  And, I will make sure to honor your deadlines in the future.
  • Acknowledgement of the violation of social norms – I know I said I would have this to you by Friday and I broke that promise.  I am so sorry for that.

Tesla Look at MeWe are doing a lot of work with the proper and appropriate use of “I’m sorry.” I am doing my best to coach girls to notice when they interrupt someone or accidentally bump into another kid or use language that might hurt another’s feelings.  We actually practice talking and listening without interrupting.  We actually practice walking around a small space without bumping into each other (all the while I am side coaching, “Notice other people around you.  You are not the only one in this space.”) We actually practice asking questions and sharing our ideas and opinions in ways that do not judge or condemn other people.  This is the only way that kids can understand what they are saying sorry for when they make a mistake.

Here’s a scenario that might resonate for your daughter:

  • Expressions of empathy – I said some really mean things to you.  You must be feeling sad and probably embarrassed.
  • Offers of compensation – I promise to never call you that again.
  • Acknowledgement of the violation of social norms – I know that what I said was wrong.  They were mean words.  They aren’t even allowed at school.  Plus, they hurt your feelings.  I am very sorry.

We also remind girls over and over again to reserve their sorrys for when they actually make a mistake that hurts someone.

Me: Hey Go Girl!  Will you please bring me that piece of paper?
Go Girl!: Here you go.
Me: Actually, I meant the other piece of paper.  The one with the lines.
Go Girl!: Oh!  Sorry!
Me:  Please don’t say you’re sorry.  You only need to apologize when you do something that hurts someone.  Do you think you hurt me?
Go Girl!: No.
Me: Do you think you hurt my paper?
Go Girl! (giggles): No.
Me: Do you think you hurt my dog?
Go Girl! (even more giggles): No.
Me:  Then don’t apologize.  Got it?
Go Girl!: Got it.

This post is #19 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ‘em right to your email!

For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.