Let’s break the Internet with inspiration
This month, Girls Inc., a national nonprofit that advocates for girls by giving them a voice for positive change, is giving thanks to its network of supporters with 30 Days of Gratitude.
With the trending #GirlsIncGratitude and #WithYouInHerCorner hashtags created specifically for social networks, especially Twitter, the campaign is thanking the masses. Donors, foundations, partners and mentors are being shown gratitude online for providing a safe place for the 138,000 girls in the U.S. and Canada who need positive experiences. That’s particularly important in today’s uber-digital world.
Especially this week with a nude celebrity trying to break the Internet.
I’m a big fan of Girls Inc. because of its initiative, to “provide a safe place where girls’ interests, opinions, and concerns are valued by adults and other girls, trusting relationships with mentors, and hands-on, minds-on experiences that give her the tools to make a plan for her future and thrive.” The organization’s tagline, “Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold,” says it all.
Every girl should feel strong, smart, and bold — and more.
As a young girl, I found a similar experience that Girls Inc. provides by joining the Girl Scouts. I enjoyed the camaraderie of our bi-monthly meetings, hikes in the woods at the park, summer camps and hands-on projects. I earned badges for genealogy, camping, art, sports, caring for children, nature studies, baking, dance, volunteerism and more.
I remember how proud earning each one made me feel.
I am a passionate champion for girls and women, knowing that if we don’t stick up for ourselves or encourage each other, our voices may not be heard. The louder we shout, the further we will go in terms of equal pay and rights. Some may call me as a feminist, but I’m not much for labels. I think they hurt the cause, mostly because people are too quick to attack or attach negativity, i.e. feminazi, to my belief that women and men should stand together as equals.
I imagine if I were alive in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I would’ve been a suffragette.
If I were a mother and raising a girl in today’s society, I would teach her to grow as I did in my early years — curious, inquisitive, knowledge-hungry and creative. It wasn’t until my middle school years that body image started to overshadow my innocence and affect my self-esteem. I was what they call a late bloomer. I joke that I looked like a 10-year-old boy when I hit the teenage years while the other girls in class were starting to become women.
Joking around has always been my best coping method.
I loved being in high school, with all the opportunities to participate in clubs and sports, but I still felt insecure. I’m still kicking myself for not going from 8th grade drama club into the thespians in high school. I missed out on the chance to express myself on stage, an opportunity adulthood has provided, mostly because being popular was always on my mind.
I’m not exactly proud of that pursuit.
Sure, I had boyfriends and went to all the dances, but there was a still a sense that I was not rich or pretty enough. I attribute a lot of that to the pop culture of the ’80s, when sexy music television and flashy teenage self-indulgence portrayed on the big screen were king. Landing the varsity quarterback dream guy trumped any thought that maybe a nice guy with book smarts was appealing.
That probably put a lot of pressure on the guys, too.
Today, the Internet has taken all that unnecessary insecurity I felt as a teen growing up in the ’80s to a whole new, ridiculous level. From Nicki Minaj to Kim Kardashian, pop culture celebrities are exposing themselves online at exponential rates.
Bare rear-ends breaking the Internet are as common as pink prom dresses in John Hughes movies.
Marketing people know that sex sells. Because it does. And anyone with an agenda to make money, while laughing all the way to the bank, uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to his or her advantage.
Just see what’s trending right now.
I may not have a daughter or a younger sister to influence and safeguard from the hyper-sexualized culture we find ourselves immersed in, mostly thanks to the Internet. But I do support organizations like Girls Inc. and showing girls that strong, smart and bold entails more than just showing everyone what our mamas gave us. We can be sultry and smart. Sensitive and strong. And brainy and bold. Men and women, we can equally lead by example.
Most importantly, we can inspire our young girls.
April E. Clark thinks funny is sexy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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