Learn More About Our Girl Talk Workshops From Joy Beth, Our Girl Talk Workshops Coordinator
Check out this blog from Joy Beth, our Girl Talk Workshops Coordinator, about the program and the girls she meets everyday:
Through the Girl Talk Workshop program, I talked with over 1,500 girls last year. Every group and every girl was unique. Although each girl was brilliantly unique, there were a few things that most of them had in common. Of course I cannot speak for every girl I met last year, but most of them were willing to reveal what they struggle with most. Girls say they continue to struggle with bullying and body image. It should not be surprising to find out that a lot of girls are dealing or have dealt with both.
Bullying for most girls means constant exclusion from their friends, damaging rumors, being coerced by friends, extremely hurtful gossip or “backstabbing” and sometimes even physical harm. Girls involved in these situations used the following words to describe how they felt: “alone, sad, angry, desperate, misunderstood, depressed and hopeless,” to name a few. Even though many girls have a dark, looming cloud over their shoulder that is either bullying or challenging friendship dynamics; girls are resilient and resourceful when it comes to dealing with these challenges. I have had the privilege to facilitate countless discussions on ways to be a better friend and what it looks like to stand up for yourself. Usually I don’t have to talk very long before the girls begin to come up with real-life solutions to these heavy problems. What does this mean? This means that girls are dealing with and will continue to deal with intense challenges like bullying. But what is more important to know is that given the opportunity, girls can use their own minds and voices to deal with these challenges.
Last year I facilitated more workshops on body image than any other topic. I facilitated workshops with not only girls, but also with moms, dads, counselors, educators and other service providers. These adults wanted to learn how to “promote a healthy body image” with the girls in their lives. It is obvious that our community feels that there is a need to address this issue. When I talk to girls about body image, the need is even more clear. Girls revealed their thoughts about the mixed messages they are being sent about their bodies, and most of them are not positive..not even close. Often, these messages from the media, from society, even from family or peers will exclude the idea that they are beautiful just they way they are. Most girls don’t even realize that they have the option to be happy with their body and to feel positive about the way they look. Many girls are unaware that they are comparing themselves to unrealistic images of beauty every day. Girls say that seeing these images so frequently, “makes them feel bad” or “embarrassed” or “ashamed” about their own bodies. Our body image workshops provide girls with the knowledge and power to choose for themselves what to believe and how to feel. Girls have a choice to reject or accept these mixed messages. They are given the opportunity to define beauty on their own terms and decide for themselves how they feel and talk about their own bodies. With each body image workshop, more and more girls are enthusiastic to become an advocate for real beauty!