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.
Many women struggle to find pleasure and fulfillment in their sexual relationships. Over the past few years, almost 300 women have responded to the swagger survey. Of those women 56% report high levels of swagger at work, but only 41% say they swagger in their relationships. One of the most frequent answers to “Where would you like to swagger?” is “in relationships” and “in the bedroom.
Sex therapist Dr. Jenni Skyler said that she is not surprised that women responding to the swagger survey feel more confident out in the world than in intimate situations. She believes that the bedroom is a place of vulnerability and the confidence developed in the outside world may not translate into confidence in situations where you are emotionally and literally naked.
“Sex can be a taboo for many,” said Skyler. “We, therefore, seldom get the message that women are deserving of pleasure. We get the message that it is ok to be hyper-sexualized and objectified, but not that it is ok for women to enjoy sex and be the recipients of pleasure.”
In her practice, Dr. Skyler works with women in a two- step process to reclaim their right to pleasure. The first step is to deconstruct the old programming by exploring the messages we received growing up from our families, our religion, and the media.
We believe in all students being successful regardless of color or gender. It is not just a matter of promoting the boys and training them to become men, and thus saying they are the only designated leaders of a global market. To that we say nonsense!
We also need to support the girls and prepare them to become the leaders of the global market as well. To the point, the 4th grade is too young and too early for a girl’s self-esteem to peak!
“Daddy’s little girl” has just as much right and promise to become the next President, Astronaut, Electrician, Fortune 500 C.E.O., Attorney, Small Business Owner, Engineer, Scientist, Advocate, U.S. Congress Representative (there are currently no Black females in the U.S. Senate), whatever it is she sets her sights on. We need to prepare all students to have an opportunity to aspire to greatness. We say don’t hate, motivate!
Girls and women with lots of self-confidence and swagger, get more of what they want out of life and have more fun doing it. As you get better at recognizing your own talents and feel more comfortable using them, you will become less self-conscious and less susceptible to the message that you should hide your gifts in order to avoid making someone else feel uncomfortable. You will feel better about how you look and remember how to take joy in your body and the way it takes you on adventures and allows you to feel the sensuous joys of this life.
Girls and women with swagger figure out their purpose and use their confidence to fulfill it and make a positive contribution to the world. Without enough self-esteem, women may keep their voices quiet and their potential contributions are forever lost to the world.
How do you get Swagger?
Over the past two years, 240 women have responded to a survey I conducted about their swagger. Just over 40 percent said they were born with swagger, while 52 percent said they faked it or are still faking it. Many of us started out by pretending to be a little more or a lot more confident than we are. Others were born into families of women who swagger or have confident friends or role models and learned by watching.
Remember feeling full of joy as a child? I loved to be outdoors, climb trees, play in the creek, run, and laugh. There is a home-movie of me bounding into the room and clapping with sheer happiness. Somewhere along the way I was told to be quiet, sit still, and not ever mention my own accomplishments. Some of that joy and swagger faded away.
“Girls self-esteem peaks at nine years old and then takes a nose dive,” says clinical psychologist Robin F. Goodman at New York University Child Study Center. Read more…
Now is the time to stop waiting.
Want to have more fun and success in your life and care less about what other people think? Then the time has come for you to discover your swagger.
Swagger is high feminine confidence. In the Swagger movement, we believe that swagger is important because women have many talents to contribute to the world, but the world is out of balance, dominated by male energy. I believe that we need both male and female energy in the world and when those energies are in balance, there are more equitable and satisfying life opportunities for all people. By gaining confidence, especially at an early age, women are more able to make their contributions and help bring balance to the world
In our current culture, men have been taught to have too much swagger and women too little. As a result, women have been dis-empowered, reduced to objects for men’s pleasure and stripped of their full personhood. Due to TV shows, movies, and video games that demean women and glorify violence, many men expect women to be sexy, subservient, and always focused on the needs of men.
How did this happen? Read more…
Have you heard about the movement to keep it real? Inspired by Julia Bluhm who asked Seventeen Magazine to monthly publish one unaltered picture of a woman a month. So far, the magazine has said no – even though 83,000 people have signed a petition agreeing with the request sign the petition. Here’s a blog from Balancing Jane with a great summary of the movement click here.
Increasingly, we are all becoming aware that pictures in magazines and other places are digitally altered to make already gorgeous people look more gorgeous. Why? Watch this hilarious fake commercial that invites you to photoshop yourself so that you can look more perfect, too! Fotoshop
As women, we are sometimes a prisoner of our biology. Our bodies tell us that in order to pro-create, we must be attractive to men. Advertisers are only too happy to grab onto our biological impulses so they can sell us what we need to be attractive to the opposite sex. The more unrealistic the idea of beauty, the more products we need to buy. Oh!
It is time for girls and women to wake up and see the ridiculousness of what we have been taught is necessary to be attractive. Time to say “enough!” We can value our own uniqueness and the beauty of our bodies without torturing them and we can support other women who are doing the same thing.
As your own personal confidence increases, you’ll find you have less interest in wearing high heels and tight skirts or anything else that makes you uncomfortable. You’ll care less about beauty products that promise to brighten and beautify you. Being thin will be out and being healthy, strong, and vibrant will be in. When you are feeling your swagger, you begin to feel beautiful all the time.
Please join The Girl’s Guide to Swagger in Keeping it Real and asking Seventeen and other magazine to start showing real women not fake images of beauty.
Have you ever been misrepresented by a friend, family or maybe by a reporter interviewing you for the newspaper or TV news? If so, you know it doesn’t feel good and it might impact your confidence. Imagine if you found out that not only you, but also your entire gender was being misrepresented. Unfortunately, that is the case, if you are female.
According to the 2011 documentary Miss Representation, by actress and filmmaker, Jennifer Siebel Newsome, 71% of the images shown in the media are of women in their 20s and 30s while these women represent only 39% of females in our population. It may go without saying that many of those media images show women in “hyper-sexualized” ways, wearing very little clothing and often serving as nothing more than sexual props for male story lines.
Our series on Women of Swagger continues with a profile of Deida Massey, the founder of the non-profit, Reel Beauty. Deida swayed her swagger and in doing so, found a way to incorporate many of her passions to improve confidence and provide support to girls in the Chicago area. She studied law and eventually even earned a Masters of Jurisprudence in Child and Family Law. She also worked as an advocate for abused and neglected children. Deida felt that advocacy work was tremendously stressful. She saw “so much brokenness, so many families torn apart.”
Do you feel frustrated when you see the young women you know struggle with body image? You might have the same struggle – given the constant bombardment of media messages about how you are supposed to look. You may already know that the pictures of women you see in magazines and on TV are often not real. The images are often enhanced, air brushed, and photo-shopped. So the ideal that we may be striving for is not even real.
Deida Massey decide to do something with her frustrations – she lives by Gandhi’s famous words – “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Deida is the founder of the Chicago non-profit Reel Beauty. Here is Deida’s story:
Prior to pursuing her dream of being a makeup artist in the beauty, fashion, music and entertainment industry, Deida obtained a Master’s of Jurisprudence from Loyola School of Law in Child and Family Law. While in school, Deida worked as a paralegal for the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office in Chicago, Illinois.During the day she advocated for abused and neglected children as a paralegal, but her love for makeup led her to moonlight as a makeup artist at night and on the weekends. In fact, it didn’t take her long to trade in her cushy, nine-to-five job for a more creative and rewarding career in makeup artistry. She took a courageous leap of faith, left the Windy City and moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2002. In 2004, Deida’s vision to create Reel Beauty manifested while living in LA. She then decided to bridge the gap between her love and passion for makeup artistry and helping young women. Today Deida Massey is the Founder and Executive Director of Reel Beauty, Inc – an organization that assists at risk urban girls. “We teach them to value themselves and empower them with self worth, self-esteem and self confidence so they will be productive citizens within their environment. We do that by offering 10 activity-based workshops designed to help these young women resolve the problems they struggle with day to day.” Deida realized how detrimental the messages in today’s music, culture and media portrayal were. “I wanted to do something to combat all the negativity.”
Reel Beauty has mentored more than 500 girls offering workshops that help build positive self-image and supporting young women as they combat negativity in their lives and work toward their dreams. Reel Beauty is working on expanding its program to Tanzania.
The Girl’s Guide to Swagger welcomes our newest partner Deida Massey and Reel Beauty. We salute you for the good work you are doing supporting swagger for girls and for “being the change!”
Reel Beauty, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) non profit that teaches teen girls ages 11-18 the importance of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth. We achieve our mission by offering proven self-esteem workshops that help develop young girls to become productive citizens within their environment. Our ultimate goal is to become an international force of change. Web site: www.reelbeautyinc.com
What’s Wrong with Me, a new book by Daree Allen for girls and young women has just been released. Daree is on a blog book tour to let everyone know about the book. The Girl’s Guide to Swagger interviewed Daree on topics like confidence, clothing, and life purpose. Take a look at Daree’s inspirational thoughts on how to get more confidence and swagger in your life!
1. Can you tell me about what inspired you to write What’s Wrong with Me?
My life coach encouraged me to get started on the book a few years ago, but the deep need for me to write it came from the lost girl I used to be. I felt so misunderstood, sometimes unloved (although I was loved), I didn’t like myself or the way I looked, and I didn’t get attention I wanted from boys at school or my own father. I didn’t have a mentor to guide me and rely on, and although I became a Christian at age 10, I didn’t fully accept everything about what comes with a relationship with God. So all of these elements had a hand in motivating me to produce What’s Wrong with Me?
2. What part of the book are you most excited about?
I love bringing up the things that are supposedly taboo, or that people know is present but don’t want to admit (e.g., the proverbial “elephant in the room.” Don’t you know that once you expose something negative, it starts to lose its power?
Specifically, although it’s not exactly “exciting,” one of things I am proud of in this book is the battle I won with depression, as it relates to my daughter and her father. The African American community in particular likes to keep mental health issues on the hush, but I like to tell my story so that others won’t feel ashamed to admit when they’re deeply hurt, nor be afraid to work through their issues.
3. Who is the target audience for the book? Have you had any initial responses from your readers?
I wrote the book with teen girls in mind, and I have heard from teen girls that read it quickly (couldn’t put it down), and enjoyed it. I’m also hearing a great response from women in their 20s-40s (both mothers and childless women), who also strongly relate and identify with the concepts in the book, especially regarding relationships and self-esteem. I firmly believe that the issues I discuss in the book that are not resolved when you’re young follow you and often cause bigger issues into adulthood.
4. The Girl’s Guide to Swagger is focused on promoting confidence for girls and women – how does What’s Wrong with Me? deal with confidence?
As an extension of my answer in question 1, I talk about my insecurities as a girl/teen and give advice for how to handle that. For example, I didn’t care for my flat chest and big butt– according to what I saw on TV, my shape was not “in.” An hourglass shape (think Beyonce-Kim Kardashian-Nikki Minaj) was coveted. My hair was very thick and coarse– it wouldn’t stay straight for long even with a perm (relaxer). I talk about acceptance and how to turn those feelings around to consider not what is wrong with you (and who says, anyway?) but rather, what’s RIGHT with you.
5. How do you think confidence impacts the life experience for girls?
Confidence tells you that you can or can’t do something. Are you sure you can do that? Maybe not, but if you have confidence you’re willing to try, and you don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it the first time. Make it a practice to affirm yourself no matter what your circumstances look like. Encourage yourself and if you’re not 100% confident about something, it’s ok to “fake it ’til you make it.”
6. How does the book fit in with your life purpose?
My life purpose–at least in this phase of my life–is to uplift and motivate girls and young women to be their best, to learn from their mistakes, and be empowered. I’ve spoken on motivational and empowerment topics for a long time, but I wanted to add a part of me–the book is partly a memoir–to offer at my speeches or workshops.
7. You wrote a guest blog for the swagger website called – “If you got it, flaunt it! Not so fast” How do you think clothing reflects a girl’s self-image?
Our clothes say a lot about us. It’s a form of expression even if you don’t mean for it to be. Your personality is not always reflected in the way you dress, but initially people judge you by your appearance–like it or not.
Most of have at least one piece of clothing or jewelry that we feel good wearing, and that’s ok. But you have to recognize whether you NEED to have it to feel good about yourself. This can even be extended to something like wigs. Even though technically they’re not clothing, you do put it on before going outside. Are you trying to impress someone else with what you have on, or do you wear it because YOU like it?
Some girls wear tight clothes to get attention from boys. Some get trendy clothes they see at the mall even if it doesn’t fit or flatter them, just because they like them or “that’s what’s in.” Some wear fashion based on the styles of their favorite celebrities. But everything isn’t for everybody. Whether you shop at K-Mart, Nordstrom’s or somewhere in between, you can keep it classy and not be trashy.
8. Any advice for the community of women who make up The Girl’s Guide to Swagger?
Females in our society have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. Girls need to see A) that other females in the world and their community are happy and successful with their lives, and B) feel that they too can accomplish anything. Women need to be those examples, but girls need to know that even if they don’t physically see anything like THEIR VISION, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
When you believe you can do something, nothing can stop you except you. But first you’ve got to believe it, then you create a plan, and you have to act on it. Every step of the way may not be smooth, but you will learn and grow because of it. And when you look back, you’ll see your progress. You may get tired, you may want to take a break (I certainly did both with this book!), but once you have your goal in mind, don’t stop until you get there!
Daree Allen is an authorpreneur, young adult esteem advocate, speaker, and goal-getter in Atlanta, GA. She has published articles on a variety of topics as a freelance writer and blogger, and is the author of the new teen mentoring book entitled, “What’s Wrong With Me?” in which she discusses her own childhood dealing with self-esteem, premarital sex, family and personal relationships. Find out more about her work at www.dareesinsights.wordpress.com and www.DareeAllen.com.