For those of us who had to navigate our preteen/teenage years without today’s wealth of social media, it might be difficult for us to imagine thousands of women from all over the world reaching out to us to show their support. On Tuesday, April 14, author Courtney Summers launched a campaign to achieve that very idea.
Summers published a call-to-action via a blog post, urging her followers to pass along words of encouragement, wisdom and positivity under the hashtag #ToTheGirls. “Take the opportunity to tell the girls you know—and the ones you don’t—that they are seen, heard and loved,” she writes. “Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours.” Her request garnered over 70,000 tweets last Tuesday as women (and a few men) offered helpful advice on confidence, body image, sex, friendship or to simply provide words of love and kindness.
This campaign comes at a critical time for the girls of today. In terms of body image, statistics released in December 2013 showed that an alarming 42% of girls between the first and third grade wanted to be thinner. Eighty-one percent of girls ten years of age feared being overweight and more than half of teenage girls were either on diets or thought they should be dieting. Thankfully there was no shortage of wise words for those who needed a quick reminder that they are worth so much more.
As of February 2015, the murders of seven transgender women have been reported in the US alone, nearly doubling the total recorded last year (a disturbing phenomenon that has not been widely covered). As the number continues to climb – and especially in the wake of Leelah Alcorn and other trans girls we’ve lost to suicide – it’s vital that the visibility of the trans/non-binary community is not only encouraged, but emphatically welcomed.
While women of color strive for basic representation in our government (only 33 women of color currently serve in Congress), educational system (see #BlackGirlsMatter), and even our entertainment, we should take the time to uplift our girls of color and assure them that we will continue to honor their significance, beauty, and agency.
And while our journey in the fight against the continued stigmatization of mental illness and disability is a long one, our unwavering advocacy is essential.
— YA FAVE MIXED GIRL (@IDontTextBack) April 14, 2015
Courtney Summers’ effort is an example of why the continued cultivation of safe spaces for girls is necessary. As theirs (and our) livelihoods continue to be challenged and undermined, our love and support need not only be heard, but amplified. More importantly, that very solidarity should continue to be as inclusive as possible; for all of our girls need and deserve a thriving sisterhood.