If you ever speak with Traci Fields or Tosha Mobley, you will discover that these two ladies certainly have a unique way of reflecting their inspiring candlelight from within, right into the hearts of young girls. They are the energetic duo in charge of BeDazzle-Do, a movement designed to inspire all through a tri-fold of empowerment activities for “tween” and young girls. They provide hair & art design for young girls, educational or “edutainment” enrichment programs, and even a weekly talk radio show each Tuesday entitled The d.i.v.a. Download, where Cindy Brown from Girlsguidetoswagger has been a featured guest.
Are you a DIVA? On the DIVA Download, hosts Traci and Tosha describe DIVAS as: diverse, involved, value-driven and active. The show features women working to empower girls and their moms. Swagger Founder Cindy Brown appeared on the show February 26.
She talks about how she found her swagger and why it is important to have celebrity role models who show us swagger. You can listen to the segment on swagger here.
On the heels of One Billion Rising, celebrated on the 15th anniversary of V-Day, as one billion women and those who love them rose worldwide to bring awareness to the issues surrounding violence against women, I have been thinking about interpersonal violence in our own country. There appears to be a distinct disconnect between the message we want to send to girls and young women-that they can love and respect themselves and acknowledge that they have needs of their own that come first-and the message they are receiving-that they should look or behave a certain way in order to receive love and acceptance.
So why aren’t girls and women getting the message that they are fine just the way they are? Perhaps those of us trying to send this message are getting drowned out by the sheer volume of socially constructed messages bombarding girls and young women every day. Examples of objectification and violence are thrown in our faces constantly. While the recent charges of rape against high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio–young men who allegedly raped a 16-year-old fellow student last August while other students videotaped the unconscious girl–may seem extreme, we see other seemingly unimaginable stories day after day. Take the story of the “fantasy team draft” created by ninth-grade boys at the elite Landon School in Maryland in 2010, where the boys chose girls, rated them, and planned sexual conquests as part of a competition in which money would eventually be exchanged. Then, there was the violent murder of a University of Virginia lacrosse player by her abusive ex-boyfriend, a former Landon student.
It is no wonder that young women are so confused. If boys today are being sent to prestigious private schools like Landon only to be taught to objectify and debase young women by drafting them to teams with such names as “The Southside Slampigs,” and the punishment for planning sexual conquests is a slap on the wrist and a “boys will be boys” mentality, then the cycle will only continue. The former Landon student who murdered his ex-girlfriend had been seen previously choking her. He had also attacked a male teammate he thought had kissed her, and he became so out of control with a female police officer during a drunken rampage that he had to be tasered. But apparently everyone looked the other way, and through silence, the behavior continued to be condoned.
“In fully accepting your creative power, you honor and respect your soul and remind others to do the same.” ~Sonia Choquette
Creative drive, empowerment and advocacy is clearly emanated through the souls of many women. But in recent years, we’ve seen a decline in these attributes among today’s youth and The Girl’s Guide to Swagger is on a mission to make sure we don’t continue down this path. When those strengths are not drawn upon, women as a whole lose out. Fortunately, we all can nurture each other so that this doesn’t happen. Ashley Marinaccio shows us how we can as she works to cultivate these important attributes through the girls and women involved in Girl Be Heard, a theater collective that uses acting to empower young women ages 12 through 21 to become brave, confident, socially conscious leaders while exploring their own lives.
Girl Be Heard was founded four years ago by Marinaccio, who is the now Artistic Director. She is an activist and artist and her work has been seen in many venues across the country such as global TED conferences, The White House, United Nations, and on tour across the United States. She holds a M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Bachelor’s of the Arts in theatre directing and sociology/anthropology with minors in women/gender and Middle Eastern from Pace University.Marinaccio’s enjoys utilizing theatre for peace building, healing, and empowerment and her vast background led her to be the most suitable person to begin this organization back at the Estrogenius Theatre Festival in 2008, where she was asked to write a play for teenage girls performing at the festival. But instead, she changed things up a bit by having the girls write and act out the plays themselves.“It was apparent that I should not be writing this for them (the plays girls were performing). They needed to be empowered to write it themselves. So we had each of the girls get into discussions.
When you are financially empowered, you are more able to control many aspects of your life. It’s an essential building block that many people unfortunately don’t seem to receive in their upbringing. This is reflected in the current state of America’s economy, as well as within the rest of the world.
Fortunately, there are brilliant people like Sheena Williams in the world who are working to change things. She is the founder of SheWill, Inc., an organization geared toward improving financial literacy in girls ages eight to 17 and families.
“I teach how to be responsible with money management. I also teach career empowerment and entrepreneurship,” said Williams. “Basically what I do is try to prepare girls for life skills before they graduate high school and go off to college, so they’ll have fundamental financial and career skills before leaving their parents house.”
When Williams graduated from high school, all her dad ever told her was to be responsible with money. And as an 18- year- old living on her own, she didn’t know what that meant. “I made mistakes and I just don’t want the future generation to have to go through those obstacles that I did,” Williams said.
Williams has since earned an MBA in Public Administration and is the President of SheWill, Inc. During one of the company’s seminars or events, girls learn about savings, budgeting, and philanthropy. They are taught the difference between a credit card, debit card and checking account. Classes also learn what credit is, how to establish credit and different forms of credit such as store credit. They are able to review a credit card statement and learn about interest rates.
“We do simple interest for them and a little bit of compounding interest for savings but mostly interest rates for credit cards,” said Williams.
Sheena hosts classes and seminars throughout her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia and recently has been able to start working with school districts and organizations across the country. Read more…
Integrity. A word defined as “soundness of moral character; honesty or the state of being whole, or undiminished.” Integrity is strong value for the Girls Guide to Swagger and we look for the opportunity to recognize organizations who support this value. Today we are featuring Shantay Carter and her organization, Women Of Integrity, Inc.
Shantay is on a mission to support and empower women in her community to foster the confidence they need to accomplish their future goals. The organization carries out their mission by offering volunteer services, professional mentoring programs and also participating in community outreach events throughout Hempstead, New York in Long Island and other near-by communities.
Carter is a woman of strong identity and by nature, she has always liked to help people. Over the years, she transferred those skills into a successful career as a nurse and is now refining those skills even further, along with nearly 30 other volunteers working with Women of Integrity. Her motivation for starting the organization began when she noticed that many women, especially young women and girls in her community didn’t seem to possess self-confidence needed to live well-developed lives. Read more…
What do you think of when you see a group of teenage girls? Do you assume that they are good people, loving daughters, creative and brilliant or do you assume something else? Is it possible that teenage girls have gotten a bad name because some of them act out or get in trouble?
Ruby Taylor has launched a new campaign asking people to tell the truth about teenage girls – that they are beautiful, smart, caring, respectful and compassionate. Ruby has a gift of seeing the best in everyone, especially teenage girls, who are often misunderstood and misjudged. So often if we expect the worst from someone – we will get it. What about trying to expect the best from everyone?
By treating everyone with respect, we encourage each person to value themselves, which grows self-esteem. If girls lack confidence and swagger, it may be because they have not been treated with respect. Read more…
October 11, 2012, is the first observance of the U.N.’s International Day of the Girl and will be a celebration of more than a year of advocacy and public policy activism by girls across the United States.
Wondering what International Day of the Girl is all about? It is the first annual celebration promoting rights and equality for girls everywhere in the world. As Hillary Clinton said: “I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.”
This summer the girls at Reel Beauty in Chicago answered the question – what does swagger mean to you? Their answers are so inspiring – all about being yourself with your own unique style and being happy. Here is what they had to say:
Swagger is Style. Alize
Swagger is dressing nice, but still being yourself. Brianna
Swagger is being unique and thinking outside the box. Ami
Swagger is creativity. Jessica
Swagger is the ability to dress appropriately in a way that satisfies you!! Rainee
Swagger is Efficient. Shanell
Swagger is your own style that represents you!! Mia
Swagger is an expression of your inner ego. Joushlyn
Swagger is being your unique self. Sharmeisha
Swagger means to be yourself happily no matter what people think! Kayla
These girls have healthy self-esteem, thanks in part to the awesome non-profit Reel Beauty started by swagger partner Deida Massey. Read about the program here, including the great work that Reel Beauty is doing in Tanzania.
Ruby Taylor believes that each of us is priceless. She has suffered watching her nieces and the girls she counsels in her job as a school social worker struggle with low self-esteem and doubt about their worth. Rather than simply feeling bad, Ruby is the kind of person who does something – something big! In addition to her Priceless Project reaching out to teen-age girls, she has published a book Confidence to Greatness. The book is full of stories from women and one man about how each one has overcome obstacles or mistakes to make a successful life.
Ruby’s latest effort provides resources and support for parents, aunts, teachers and others who have teen-age girls in their lives. In addition to advice, the new site Uplift Girls will be a place to recognize special teen-age girls in your life as priceless princesses.
Take a look at the new website at http://upliftgirls.com/ to see how you can get involved. You’ll be inspired by how much difference one person can make when she takes action to change the world.