I work with youth and the people who touch their lives - parents, mentors, educators - to redefine the cultures in which our young people are growing up, from the intimate circles of families and friends, to school communities and even the broader global community. Together, we come to understand that we are the creators of our culture - the social context within which we live - and it is our responsibility to define it.
The media is bombarding our youth with messages about how women and men should look and act. I work with youth to respond to these messages by cultivating our authentic selves. Together, we manifest the possibility of creating a culture that supports our development.
I work primarily with girls and women to teach skills that build self confidence and self agency in the context of a culture that teaches us to value our appearance above all else. My approach is based on over 20 years of experience in education with particular attention to the evolving impact of media on our youth.
In the year following the publication my book, Beautiful, I traveled extensively in the US and abroad to share my work, above all, with young women. Everywhere I went, I heard that many girls today really do believe that women can achieve anything, that doors are open in ways they had never been previously. This is great...and, yet, it comes at a very costly price. Time and again, I watched girls internalize the message that to be a 'successful' woman in our culture, they can choose one of two routes – be a sex object or do all that you can to achieve in the same ways as a man, otherwise known as being equal means being the same.
Yet, my 20 years of experience in conversations with women and girls tell me that equality is about equally valuing that which is male and that which is female.
When I speak to a 12-year-old girl and she tells me that in her perspective, associating particular qualities with women makes those qualities less valuable, I worry. When we educate girls to believe that being equal means being the same, we rob them. We diminish, or perhaps even eliminate, the joy of being a woman.
Think about it:
How do the girls you know understand what it means to be a woman in today's culture?
How do the boys you know perceive manhood?
How do we, as adults, understand these ideas?
What values serve as the basis for the initiation of our youth?
I look forward to hearing from you. For more information, please follow the links below.