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 authentic 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 or to be in contact, please follow the links below.
My two daughters, aged 14 (8th grade) and 11 (5th grade), attend a small, private, International Baccalaureate school in CT. Naomi Katz visited our school last week as a guest speaker for the middle school students, faculty, and parents.
The ripple effect….no, maybe a better description would be tidal wave effect, is still palpable. She opened a new and very necessary conversation, challenged belief systems, and rocked our little campus.
Her speaking style is dynamic and engaging. The content of her presentations to our community provoked every emotion imaginable, and initiated a dialogue that has permeated our classrooms, hallways, offices and homes.
What is the effect of social media on us? Our children? How much is too much? Do we really make our own choices? What does it truly mean to have a “choice”? How is this tainted by ever-present peer pressure? What are the societal attributes of a “man” and a “woman”? How has society distorted what it means for men and women to be “equal”? Do same and equal mean the same thing? Are strict rules, parental controls, and surveillance of our children’s on-line activities effective parenting strategies? Are we modeling the behaviors we desire in our kids?