I’m standing with a mic in front of girls age 12 to 23. We’re all here for the same reason: At some point in our lives we felt trapped. Some of us were bullied; some of us struggled with anxiety or depression; some of us had family problems. But one thing is the same for each of us. We never want to return to the dark places we’ve crawled out of, and we never want another woman to go there, either.
We are each THAT girl.
I’m trembling. I’m sweating. I’m on the verge of tears. I’d just been voted “most courageous” by my breakout group at THAT Girl Soars, the first-ever I Am That Girl event in the South.
I’m standing in front of a group of young girls and women who I’d met only hours earlier, and I was about to utter my utmost emotional baggage.
What makes you courageous? was the question.
“Well, I, uh… I guess I’m courageous because… Because I am newly open to talking about my disordered eating so I can help others.”
That’s all I could squeak out before the tears started falling. The next thing I knew, I was whirling around the room, hugging and being hugged by girls I didn’t even know yet. Girls told me how brave I was to speak up about my struggle. They told me I was not alone, and they were there for me. They told me inspired them, not just for triumphing my battle, but for speaking about a taboo topic.
I continued to let tears fall, but they were no longer nervous or hurtful tears. They were joyful tears, astounded by the love radiating from all these girls.
THAT is the power of empowerment.
I experienced pure astonishment at THAT Girl Soars. This event gave young women the opportunity to hear from experienced women who have the best intentions for the next generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and scientists. We heard from a wildly successful radio show host (Jodi from Murphy, Sam and Jodi), an established and crazy talented writer (Tina Dirmann-Bergin) and a high school senior whose research is dedicated to understanding the world of social media influence.
We also spoke with the Director of Social Impact for the Coca-Cola Company, Angie Rozas. What a title, right? She wasn’t shy about saying she has the job everyone at the company wants. We don’t blame her – that’s why she’s THAT girl!
Angie travels the world to empower female entrepreneurs from all cultures and countries. She teaches them business and communications skills and makes sure they understand the basic economics of business. In essence, she gives them the knowledge and resources they need to profit and succeed in their communities.
THAT Girl Soars was a wonderfully programmed event, complete with giveaways and door prizes from local sponsors. We can’t give enough thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Baton Rouge, Junior League Baton Rouge, Tiger Deaux-Nuts, Band of Weirdos, Time Warp Boutique, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Kendra Scott.
I can’t wait to see what this organization does for young women in Louisiana and the rest of the South. Half of me wishes we had IATG in my state years ago. I think it would have changed my life. But the other half of me wouldn’t change a thing about my journey and my struggles, because it is my victory over those struggles that enables me to love, support and empower other women.
So to every girl: remain curious. Stay challenged. Be a global thinker. Most importantly, shift the momentum where it needs to shift to empower as many women as possible.
Be THAT girl.
Visit the I AM THAT GIRL website to take the THAT GIRL pledge. You can also sign up for the IATG newsletter to get love and encouragement delivered straight to your inbox (they'll also keep you up-to-date on more awesome events).
Have you had any experiences with I AM THAT GIRL? Let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.
About the F-Word
"Food" is the F-word. And the F-Word blog is all about helping you find your food-life balance. After battling an unhealthy relationship with food and body image for years, I'm dedicated to helping others avoid those misfortunes. Read on for nutrition guidance, lifestyle tips and stories from other bad-ass people who also overcame disordered eating.