Own Who You Are And Rock The World {Virginia Girls' Summit Recap}

Own Who You Are And Rock The World {Virginia Girls’ Summit Recap}

When I was a young girl, I was fairly confident. So much that people would call me “conceited” and say that I was “full of myself.” And while I knew their intentions were negative, I took it as a positive. Because if self-love was wrong, I didn’t want to be right.

And then, I had a daughter. I’ve always gone overboard to shower her with love and tell her how beautiful she is, but when she was bullied and called “skeleton” for being “too thin” I quickly learned that my self-love hadn’t quite rubbed off on her.

When I learned about the second annual Virginia Girls’ Summit on October 10th, I was beyond thrilled. I know first hand how much our girls need an event like this… and it did not disappoint!

The positive reinforcements were through the roof. And having a chance to hear vulnerable, honest stories from some of today’s biggest role models for girls was truly a priceless experience for them.

Madison Ann Clark and Ashley Graham

Posted by Carin Kilby Clark on Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Opening Remarks…

The day began with a panel of celebrity guests who were so inspirational that even I learned a thing or two from them. They have varied backgrounds and causes but all agree on the common goal of helping young girls to own their power, embrace their imperfections, and love themselves unconditionally.

Autria Godfrey, News Anchor of Good Morning Washington & ABC7 News at Noon, delivered an empowering welcome speech. She spoke about how tough life can be behind the scenes of all the high-profile careers these girls see on TV. She also talked about how it’s important to remember that everyone posts only the best of the best on social media and to never compare our real lives to anyone else’s highlight reel.

My favorite nugget from Autria was this: You will get a thousand no’s in life and that’s OK. It just takes one yes. This came up in almost every talk as the speakers discussed the roadblocks and obstacles they overcame to get where they are now. And how that one yes changed everything.

Here are a few words of wisdom I jotted down from each of the other speakers:

Ashley Graham, Model, Designer & Body Activist
“Be confident. Confidence means looking in the mirror and saying “I love you!” I am rooting for your body, your health, and your beauty in every single size.”

Willa Doss, 15-year-old Co-Founder of Willa Skincare
“To the naysayers: Say nothing. Just go out and do it. Prove them wrong.”

Rachel Hankers, Singer, American Idol Participant
“Don’t care what anyone says and do what makes you happy.”

Pooja Chandrasheker, Founder of ProjectCSGirls
“See the gaps and fill the need.”

The Breakout Sessions…

My daughter and her bestie are both 12-years-old in the 7th grade. They were so excited to attend this event together, but I also encouraged them to branch out and meet new people. They both came back with phone numbers and usies from each of the sessions so I was happy to know that they mixed and mingled with the other attendees.

After the opening, the girls went off to their breakout sessions. My daughter and her bestie attended the “Flawless” session where they ate cupcakes and talked about how to responsibly use social media. There was also extensive discussion on how people present only their best selves on social media, and how they need to remember that you don’t know all of what goes on behind the scenes.

Next, they attended “I Want Candy” where they discussed the stress that tween/teen girls are under and healthy ways to deal with stress. Both my daughter and her bestie said they learned a ton in this session and really enjoyed the discussions.

Later in the afternoon they attended the last breakout session “Bad Blood” where they discussed friendships and boys. And decorated a brand new pair of Keds. So cute and creative.

Madison Ann Clark and Bethany Mota

Posted by Carin Kilby Clark on Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bethany Mota’s Keynote…

The highlight of the day was when the girls had a chance to hear from Bethany Mota, Youtube Sensation, Designer & Digital Influencer. Madi and I first learned about Beth when she was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars. Her story is beyond inspiring and she’s so sweet. Truly, a great human being.

Here are a few words of wisdom that I jotted down from Bethany’s keynote:

On self-love and staying grounded: “When people say negative things, I don’t let it get to me. Also, when they say positive things, I say thank you but I don’t let that inform how I feel about myself.”

On making mistakes: “Making mistakes and not being perfect will make you so wise. You learn so much about yourself when you mess up.”

On happiness: “Don’t ever put the keys to your happiness in others’ hands. Self-love and happiness on the inside is the most important.”

Seriously, how wise can she be?! Brilliant. I loved that she said that. The way you feel about yourself has to come from within YOU. Not anything external. And you always have to remain in charge of how you feel – happy, sad, etc. It all has to be your choice. Never give anyone else that much power over you.

Closing Thoughts…

The most common theme of the day was this: Do What Makes You Happy. Words can barely do justice to how full of gratitude I am – that my daughter had an opportunity to hear from such wonderful, inspiring role models.

Our girls are under more pressure than ever before. School, friendships, boys, gender equality, body acceptance… the list goes on. Events like this go a long way to empowering our girls to boldly follow their passions and create a life they love. And I couldn’t be more proud.

SAVE THE DATE! The Summit is changing their name to Girls’ Summit USA (to be more inclusive and let everyone know that it’s for all girls)… their 2016 event will be on 11-12-16.

Dear Daughter, If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes.

Posted by Carin Kilby Clark on Saturday, October 10, 2015

I want to hear from you!

What do you think about the messages shared during the summit? Please join the discussion in the comments below.

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Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets for myself, my daughter, and her bestie in exchange for helping to spread the word about the Girls’ Summit. However, all opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy to learn more.

Comments 27

  1. We need more events like this. Young girls struggle with self-esteem so much, we need to teach them they are powerful beautiful young women! 🙂

  2. This is an important event for girls. We need things like this to boost self confidence, and self-worth. Especially when it comes to body confidence!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful program for all girls. I am so happy your daughter got to attend. Life can be very hard. I am glad these girls got to hear all this from these people. Thank you so much for sharing

  4. “Don’t ever put the keys to your happiness in others’ hands. Self-love and happiness on the inside is the most important.” i love that quote. it’s so true. be in charge of your own happiness!

  5. This sounds incredible! I have never heard of it before, but I would love to look into it for next year. Do you have to live in the state to attend? And what age is the youngest the girls can be? I’d love to attend with my step daughter and nieces!

  6. How cool it must have been for your daughter to attend such an event! They definitely offered words of wisdom from a cool collection of speakers. I like Pooja Chandrasheker’s advice the best: “See the gaps and fill the need.”

  7. I would have loved to go to a conference like this. I personally struggle with self love and confidence and I am petrified I’m passing it on to my daughters. With social media being so important with today’s youth, I could see how easy it would be to get discouraged by the fake perfection that displayed on social media outlets. Teaching young girls to love their bodies and their minds probably one of the biggest lessons they will learn. Great post thank you for sharing.

  8. I think so many people don’t do what makes them happy. They do what others do and follow the lead and then they become burnt out. If you do you no matter what others say..you will be good to go

  9. As a member of the Girls Summit advisory board it is rewarding to hear your positive take on the day. The board guides the logistics but our Ambassadors (girls like your daughter) drive the content and flow of the day. They are already so amazing!! We hope to see you and your daughter next year on 11-12-16.

  10. I have not heard of this summit before what a fun one to attend. I love anything that can help young girls have better self esteem and feel empowered. What an amazing experience for your daughter.

  11. We need something like this around here. I don’t have any measure of confidence… sadly this means my oldest doesn’t either. My 2nd daughter does, my son does, my 3rd daughter is in the middle, and my youngest.. is too young to know just yet. It’s hard though, but being bullied when I was younger with family who didn’t care just didn’t help my situation.

    I’m sure my lack of confidence doesn’t help no matter how wonderful and amazing I think my kids are. They’ll see me (and know) hating on myself.. and… yeah.

  12. I could so use an event like that right now. Love all of the positive messages.

    I think encouraging your daughter and her friend to meet other people was the smartest thing. I know I get pretty shy when i go to large conferences and tend to stick like glue to people I know, and lose out on the opportunity to meet new people as well.

    I would also enjoy the opportunity to design my own Keds. Those shoes are super nice, I think.

  13. What a great event full of valuable information. I’m taking away from this post a heartfelt message and I’m giving it to my grand tweens. “To the naysayers: Say nothing. Just go out and do it. Prove them wrong.” I could not have said it better myself.

  14. Carin, I really want to stay informed about this Summit for next year. Is it in Virginia again? My daughter is 10yo and I think with the things she has gone through and the types of questions she brings up that she would greatly benefit from this experience. What a fabulous concept that someone came up with to empower our girls and give them the confidence they need to succeed and dream big!

  15. This is such an important event that all girls, especially in middle school, should attend. Like many individuals, it was a tough age for me. I have gained an immense amount of self-esteem since those days by simply doing what makes you happy and looking in the mirror and smiling every morning. What a terrific group of speaker and guests. I really need to go to a summit like this one some day soon.

  16. This is a wonderful event, I wish I wa able to have sent my daughter to a summit such as this. She’s 17 now and doing ok, she’s a bit shy and gets called stuck up only because she’s quiet and it’s taken wrong. Her brother was bullied so bad in school that we had to change schools, it was heartbreaking as a mom. I think that seeing her older brother struggle had an impact on her. Teenagers years are so tough, I’m really glad there are people who care and create events like this.

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