Scholarship a Girl Like Solana to the We Are Girls Conference

Solana is an 8th grader who has attended the We Are Girls Conference with her mom for the past three years. She is also an active participant in clubGEN, and she agreed to talk to us about the challenges girls are facing, what middle school is like today, and why she loves the We Are Girls Conference.

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Have you heard your friends talk bad about their bodies?

Oh, yeah, you always hear girls say, “I look so fat” or “I’m so ugly.” And it’s like, why do you feel bad about how you look? It’s how you look, and that’s fine. Magazines and commercials make us feel bad about our bodies, and there are girls who don’t know how fake photoshop can make people look.

Do you have friends who’ve dealt with bullying? Have you seen it in school?

My friend broke up with a guy and for some reason another girl started trashing her on facebook about it and followed her around calling her names all the time. She had to deal with the stress of everyone knowing all about her break-up and being afraid of afterschool when that girl harassed her, and eventually she couldn’t handle it anymore and she left school.

When I was younger I got bullied too. In 6th grade an older girl just started being really mean to me and calling me “goody-two-shoes”, and because she was older than me I didn’t know what to do. I tried to keep calm and not escalate the issue, and not aggravate the bully to give her more fuel. Eventually because she was also picking on a boy for sounding “gay”, the school moved her out of our class.

What are some issues you and your friends worry about?

Bullying. We know who the popular girls are. And some girls will intimidate you by starting rumors or physical fights. There are girls who will beat you up.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of clubGEN?

My favorite thing about being a part of clubGEN is being a part of the clubGEN community, and spending time with other girls, and our high school mentors, and getting to know each other and share what’s going on in our lives.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since joining clubGEN?

I know who I am much more, because it’s a safe environment to learn about myself. It’s especially taught me self-confidence, and not to compare myself to girls in magazines. There is so much photoshopping and now I know: no one actually looks like that.

Do you think middle school is a time girls need support?

Definitely. Middle school is this transitional period, and you’re trying to make friends and figure out who you are, and clubGEN makes you feel confident ad helps girls that might have a hard time make friends.

How do your high school mentors differ from  your adult role models?

They’re a lot younger, and I feel like they can relate to someone my age better. And they let me see what I could strive for in a few years, because they’re older but it’s easy to imagine being like them. They’re older than you- but they’re still cool!

If you were to become a mentor in high school, what would you say to younger girls?

Don’t care about what people say about you, just be who you are.

What do you think of the We Are Girls Conference?

The We Are Girls Conference is a great gateway for girls to get involved with GENaustin, to go to a once-a-year event where you can take courses that interest you. And they are different every year! No one teaches you about friendship in school. We Are Girls does that. My favorite workshops are where we get to talk to women about their careers. Before that workshop, I didn’t know women in real life who were detectives or part of the police, and I could never talk to them and hear their experiences. You learn that girls are afraid to go into fields where men dominate, but that even though it’s hard, women can make it.

(to Solana’s mom)

Why do you and Solana go to We Are Girls every year?

It’s amazing access to other points of view, and into the world of teen girls. What are signals I should be looking out for? What is going on in their lives? And for Solana, I want her to have the tools to deal with what comes with being a teen girl, and We Are Girls gives that to her.

Solana and her mom attend We Are Girls every year- and every girl deserves that experience. Just $30 will provide a scholarship to a girl who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. Donate today and the tools you help provide girls and parents will impact their whole lives.

Vanessa Wright