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Thursday, 20 August 2015 11:18

How 17 girls in five days found the beauty secret

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I am sitting in a circle, in the chapel of All Saints Catholic School, where the Free2BGirlz Empowerment Camp is being held. Seventeen girls are sitting wide eyed, and a bit reserved, wondering what this camp is all about, and what exactly they have said “yes” to.

 

We introduce ourselves, we take turns getting to know each other, and before we know it we are creating, celebrating, singing, moving, sharing, and learning about each other and ourselves.
Together we shared what it means to be a girl. The obstacles we face. The opportunities we have. The dreams we strive for. Seeking. Searching. Sharing.
All week long the girls expressed the depths of themselves. Over the course of five days, they not only met each other as friends, but they met themselves — the young woman inside — and were able to express their voices, some for the first time.
I want to thank each and every young woman in the circle for inviting me into their lives and their experiences. I want to commend them for sharing their light and their shadow, for sharing their confidence and their fears, and for boldly and bravely being themselves.
This week-long teen girl empowerment camp is a program run through Southwest Crisis Services. I have been blessed by the opportunity to be one of the facilitators of this camp.
I look around this circle with my woman eyes, and see a circle of young women eager to express, explore, and discover themselves.
Being a young girl is not easy. The girls share stories of how they are told they can’t do things because they are a girl. They talk about challenges they face on co-ed sports teams. How they are judged by boys as not being good enough or strong enough to be on the team. They shared deeply of how they are judged for how they look; for their body shape and body size. How the comments others make affect them. They spoke of the struggles of fitting in, making friends, belonging, feeling beautiful and being themselves.
Women around the world breathe this collective story. As women, regardless of age, we know the challenges we face with beauty, confidence, judgement and self-esteem. In the face of all of these obstacles, the young women at Free2BGirlz rise up. Their collective voices are strong. Here in this circle the young women share that the solution is found within.
There were magical moments for me throughout the entire week. They would emerge quite unexpectedly and the wisdom of these young girls would fill my heart with joy and tears in my eyes.
Through their sharing I was taken back to my own experiences as a young girl.
I remember my insecurities and my worries. I remember the “mean girls” and the bullying. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and feeling fat. I remember feeling judged and the name-calling. As a teen girl, I kept most of this to myself. I pretended that all was well and that I was fine.
As women and men, we have work to do — for ourselves — and all women, girls, and boys on the planet. These meaningful conversations, like those at the Free2BGirlz Camp, can change people’s lives. How can we create space for more meaningful conversations to support us in “being a girl”, “being a boy”,  and “being yourself in the face of inner and outer obstacles and judgments”?
Perhaps when we create sacred spaces for meaningful conversations we can then create the relationships that we desire, and be fully and freely ourselves.
In honour of these young women I share their collective voices with you. May their advice and their words offer you more strength, courage, and passion for being yourself — whether you are a boy or a girl.

Their teen girl advice and wisdom:
• “Don’t listen to what people say that is bad about you, because you are pretty and beautiful just the way you are.”
• “You’re beautiful the way you are. Express your opinion. Be yourself.”
• “Boys can’t tell you who you are. You are your own person.”
• “I believe that girls should not be judged. They should always be able to do what they want. They should never be forced to do something. Girls need to be who they are and have fun.”
• “Be yourself and have loads of fun.”
• “Don’t take judgements seriously. Just brush them off your shoulder.”
• “At one point in your life it is going to get easier.”
• “Prove them wrong. Play strong. You don’t have to be scared. Just be yourself.”
• “This camp has been helpful for me ... teaching me to have a lot of passion to be a girl instead of just hiding.”
Like what you’ve read? Desire more? Shine on with Christine and join other Joyful Abundant Life Seekers as together we shine every week. One on One Life Coaching, Abundant Living Guidance and more is available. Sign up for “Be Alive & Shine” newsletter on my website at: www.welcometokiva.com. For more tips and tools on how to live abundantly from the inside out, visit me online (www.welcometokiva.com Twitter@ChristineCiona or Facebook/ KIVAsacredstudio) or join us at KIVA (in the Carmel Mall). You are always welcome.

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