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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.