Tag: girls

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!

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!

Spark! What Summer Reading Should Be + 110 Ideas for More Successful Parenting

Photo Mar 01, 12 51 40 PM*How do the girls in your life handle summer reading assignments? Do these assignments cause stress in your household? If so, do you agree find yourself nodding along with this English teacher? (Like we do):

“Summer reading assignments and reading quizzes and book reports don’t teach our students how to be readers. They teach them that reading is a school-centered activity. That it is a chore. That they aren’t good at it if they can’t remember insignificant plot points. These assignments set students up to cheat, or to fail, and always to regard reading as a drag.” Check out the rest of her smart post — which includes some possible solutions! — on The Millions.

*We love lists! Check out Dr. Sally Goldberg’s 100 Insights for Raising Successful Children on Early Childhood News and Resources includes lots of great reminders, such as “Use the R, S and T of parenting. Read, Sing, and Talk to your child as much as possible.” Which one do you like best?

*And, while we’re listing lists, here’s another great one for parents and caregivers of little ones: 10 Cheap And Easy Ways To Entertain A Toddler Who Is Driving You Crazy from the Mommyish blog. These are great ideas! Our personal fave: Using masking tape to set up a Hot Wheels race course!

*ONE LAST THING: Feel like you’re always rushing your children out the door? Sometimes the hurrying is necessary — especially in the morning as everyone gets ready to face their days — but it’s still worth checking out  what Hands Free Mama writes about what she noticed since The Day I Stopped Saying “Hurry Up.” 

“When my daughter and I took walks or went to the store, I allowed her to set the pace. And when she stopped to admire something, I would push thoughts of my agenda out of my head and simply observe her.  I witnessed expressions on her face that I’d never seen before. I studied dimples on her hands and the way her eyes crinkled up when she smiled. I saw the way other people responded to her stopping to take time to talk to them. I saw the way she spotted the interesting bugs and pretty flowers. She was a Noticer, and I quickly learned that The Noticers of the world are rare and beautiful gifts. That’s when I finally realized she was a gift to my frenzied soul.”

What do you think of her take? Post your comments below!

Spark! Study shows how media impacts girls’ body image

test-go-girl-background-1.png*SPARKsummit has the results of a fascinating study about how images of female athletes impact girls own feelings about their bodies:

“It seems like looking at images of women playing sports made girls more aware of what their own bodies could do rather than simply how they looked – which is super awesome!  On the other hand, girls who looked at the sexualized images (either of athletes or models) were more likely to describe themselves in terms of their beauty or appearance and these descriptions were often negative (e.g., “I am ugly”).

Read more here!

*We are following the protests here in Oakland since George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin — and thinking of our neighbors at Youth Radio, whose windows were smashed.

We were glad to read in The Huffington Post that Youth Radio’s Executive Director  Richard Raya “is planning a series of public forums in which community members are encouraged to discuss Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and wider social justice issues.” Count us in!

*Getting over a math phobia can be tough — for our kids and for us. That’s why we signed up for an awesome free online class for parents and educators from Stanford. The class is “a short intervention designed to change students’ relationships with math… it caused students to re-engage successfully with math, taking a new approach to the subject and their learning.” Sign up for How to Learn Math now!

*We’ve written before about ideas for beating summer boredom, but here’s another great reminder from the awesome Annie Fox:

“If we teach kids that it’s our job to do for everything for them, why should they bother learning to be creative? Why should they even bother thinking about what they might enjoy doing? Summer can feel especially long when every moment of every day is unstructured. But a long summer can be such a gift to the imagination and the spirit.”

Read her helpful advice for staying strong through the summer on her blog.

*ONE LAST THING: Feeling grumpy? Unusual schedules, the costs of camps and vacations and your kids constant craving for junk food  can overwhelm even the most mellow parents. That’s why we’re laughing about Playground Dad’s awesome 3 Ways to Get Your Summer Mojo Back As a Parent, which includes this great gem: “…if you’re like me, you’re tired of constantly saying no to everything your kids ask. Recently, after saying no for weeks on end, I agreed to a water balloon fight with the boy. I got my ass kicked. In the end I was soaked and freezing, and it was pretty excellent. So next time you’re about to say no, think:  could it be yes?”

Spark! Happy Birthday Malala!

Malala-at-Heathrow_2615534k*Here’s something that will keep you smiling through the weekend:

Today is the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani teen who has long advocated for girls rights, even after being shot in the head by a Taliban last fall. She celebrated her birthday — which being called Malala Day — by making a powerful and heartfelt speech at the U.N. about the importance of educating all children:

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” Malala said, according to Global Motherhood. Read more of her amazing and inspiring words on The Huffington Post.

*Towards the Stars has a great The Little Girls’ Guide To Taking Over The Galaxy, which includes 12 powerful pieces of advice, including this tips to pass on to the girls in your life:

We particularly love this tip: “Your Super Power Is Your Confidence.  Go out and take the world by storm. Speak up, ask for what you want, learn that your success is not dependent on your gender but on your hard work and your values. ”

*ONE LAST THING: We’ve written before about the dangerous lack of diversity in children’s books (Out of 3,600 children’s book reviewed, 93 percent were about Caucasian characters!). That’s why we  are thinking a lot about this startling illustration artist Tina Kugler, recently published on The First Book Blog, which explains what this diversity really looks like — and how it impacts kids.

Spark! Beating Summer Boredom

kids-running-at-beach-stockbyte*What do you do when your kids tell you they are bored?

Here’s our advice: Sometimes you should let them be. After all, boredom is a great way to spark the imagination. Sometimes, though, you should reach for this smart list from Common Sense Media: 100+ Ideas to Keep Kids Busy This Summer: From beach reads to road-trip tunes to essential car games, we’ve rounded up this summer’s best boredom busters. Lots of ideas for what you can do on those looonnnnggg summer road trips. 

*Want your kids to improve their social media savvy? Check out this NPR post that reveals the results of a fascinating study on Facebook and regret:  “This part probably didn’t require an academic study, but research confirms that the most common Facebook regrets revolve around sensitive topics like alcohol, sex, politics, religion or ’emotional content.’ That includes posts about relationships, with profanity and/or negative comments.” May be a good time to review those privacy settings with the girls in your life!

*All parents can use support to help them raise strong, confident girls. That’s why we’re excited that A Mighty Girl has launched a parenting section, “featuring over 150 carefully-selected books about a wide variety of parenting issues.” Check out their list — and tell us if there are any more you would add?

*ONE LAST THING: Here’s a great idea to keep your kids reading this summer! On the iTwixie Book Club, tweens can not only post reviews of their favorite books, but also participate in a Summer Books Battle! Fun!

Spark! Celebrating All Kinds of Families

15percent*Are you still thinking about the Cheerios ad that featured a little girl from a mixed-race family — and all the buzz it caused?

We are. That ad certainly made us aware of how many more diverse families we needed to see — in books, in TV ads, in movies and more.Which is why we love this idea from Michael David Murphy and Alyson West (pictured here), who created the amazing site We Are The 15 Percent “to publicly reflect the changing face of the American family.” After all, as Murphy and West point out 15 percent of new marriages are interracial, “And yet, it still feels rare to see something like the Cheerios ad represented in mainstream culture.”

Check out the beautiful family photos on the site — and find out how to add your own!

*If you’re worried that your kids are spending too much summer vacation plugged into the TV, computer and handheld devices — and who isn’t? — you’ll want to check out the great advice from Dr. Michele Borba: How to Wean Kids from TV and Video Games and Back Into L.I.F.E. You’ll find some shocking statistics here (“the average eight- to 17 year old is plugged into some kind of a digital device seven and a half hours a day”) —  plus some great tips, including warning signs to watch for!

*ONE LAST THING: Speaking of using media in moderation, the editors at New Moon Girls want parents to chime in on their new survey: “What TV shows are great for showing girls as the wonderful, not-perfect, creative, powerful, and amazing humans they are?” See what kids, adults and other girl advocates chose when the results are  published in the September/October issue of New Moon and on the mag’s online site NewMoon.com! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Spark! Shocking Lack of Diversity in Children’s Books

celia bullying trio*A survey of children’s books by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found a shocking lack of diversity. In fact, of the 3,600 titles examined, only 3.3 percent were about African Americans, 2.1  percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans, and 1.5. percent were about Latinos. And a pathetic .6 percent were about about American Indians.

Can you believe this?

Girls need to character in books that look like them. Actually, what they need are PROTAGONISTS that look like them. That way they know they can be the star of their own story. That’s one of the reasons we made the main character of our book Starring Celia from a mixed white and African-American background.

We’re excited that the smart folks at First Book are bringing attention to this mega-important issue with their Stories for All project. In a recent blog, First Book CFO Jane Robinson points out another benefit of changing publishing to be more representative:  “All kids should have access to stories featuring diverse characters, to see the world in all its true rich variety.”  YES!

*…And speaking of important issues we brought up with Starring Celia: Check out A Mighty Girl’s list of Top Books on Bullying Prevention. The list includes “the top 70 books for Mighty Girls of all ages from toddlers through teens that address issues of teasing and bullying, as well as how to foster healthy friendships.”

*ONE LAST THING: Since we seem to be all caught up with books and reading today, we wanted to pass on this statistic: “Parents who read often are six times more likely to have children who read often,” reports Allison McDonald on the Scholastic Parents blog. Get her simple ideas for becoming a reading role model for the girls in your life.

Spark! Making Time for Family Meals

family_dinner*On the dotcomplicated blog, author Carol Archambeault writes such a smart reminder about the power of unplugging  In “Why You Should Dine Tech Free,” she promotes the idea of turning off devices during shared meals with friends and family. She writes, “I offer that we all need meaningful interaction every day with another person to offset the sometimes isolating effects of our digital world.” We couldn’t agree more. Read her advice for establishing great ground rules for mealtimes, then tell us: What other ideas do you have for creating memorable meals with loved ones?

*If you worry you helicopter too much, check out this article about how to stop overparenting, which was recently reprinted on StressFreeKids: According to the article, a new study conducted by psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein “found that parental concern is not a good indicator of a child’s happiness or how good a parent-child relationship will be. What does affect satisfaction and well-being? ‘Teaching autonomy and independence, using positive reinforcement instead of punishment, and being loving and attentive,’ Epstein explains.”

*And speaking of independence…. are your kids spending time at sleep-away camp — or on another adventure away from you this summer? You might want to check out KidsHealth‘s article on homesickness, which includes lots of great tips for kids about how to deal with feeling down. We love that it concludes with this sweet reminder: “Remember that there’s a good side to homesickness, too: It means you have family and friends worth missing and a place you want to return to when your adventure away from home is over.”

ONE LAST THING: Summertime is often when moms and other women start doing a lot of “fat talk,” complaining about the body flaws they perceive. ITwixie’s Rebecca gives us a good reason to hold back,”Want your tween to be confident in her appearance? Stop talking negatively about your body. She’s listening.”