Posted by: Brie | January 20, 2012

Because I Am a Girl

There are times in a person’s life when something happens that is so extraordinary they think their heart might burst open.  This was my experience on December 15th when I presented Love the Skin You’re In to the young women of Sunderland Public and their guests, surrounding Durham Board of Education schools.

I pulled into the entrance tickled by the school sign that read ‘Welcome Brie.’   As I pondered what a kind touch that was, noting the warm fuzzy fluttering across my heart already, I was met enthusiastically at the door by several young ladies coiffed to the nines in pink, the flavour of the day – and the lemonade – and was ushered into the gym come inspirational grrrl-land.  Pink was everywhere!  On the balloons that read ‘because i am a girl,’ across the walls laced with motivational quotes, atop, yes, all 600 cupcakes perfectly stacked on the 25 foot table that lined the back wall, and all along a mural of art work sparked by the performance they saw in May 2011.

To say that inspiration abounded is an understatement.  These girls were serving up a six course meal of love that infused the entire space!  I was touched that they were eager to host a Love the Skin You’re In  event because girls across Canada, the U.S. and beyond need to hear this message.  (And they can if they contact me at!)

While presenting anywhere is always an honour, there is no describing what it is like to walk into a field wherein the message you want to convey is already being upheld by, in this case, over sixty perfect hostesses.  My eyes felt thoroughly wet as I took a closer view of their art work – its fine detail, the strength of its messaging, and the sheer heart that went into it.  The girls had seen me show the image below last spring, a piece of art done by a young woman struggling with body image concerns, and they wanted to be part of the creation of new girl-driven media.

Here’s what their wall looked like.  I was so impressed that I asked them if I could publish their work in a Girls’ Rites of Passage Creativity Journal I am co-writing.  They said YES!!!

It was a perfect prelude to what one school elected to do with their day – turn it into a fundraiser to help girls across the world through the Because I Am a Girl Campaign.  When I spoke with their super well-organized, kind teacher, Angela Youmans, I learned that couching my talk in this campaign was something the girls themselves had initiated.  I was amazed!  Talk about the power of girls to change the world.  I have spoken to 40 000 young women across North America and this is the first time girls stepped up to offer something special to young women who don’t have the same access to resources and education that we do in the west.

In my talk, I feel it’s important to point out a rather insane situation:  50% of the world is obsessed with being overweight and the other 50% is starving.  These girls recognized this and wanted to give back.  They raised nearly $350 to help girls everywhere have better access to health care and education.  Already they were acknowledging the privilege that so many of us know and take for granted in this part of the world and extending themselves in the service of others.  Here they are introducing the Because I Am a Girl campaign with their amazing presentation:

 I need to get the names of the above incredible role models…

It was beyond fun!  During my talk, I demystified prevalent representations of women in the media, talked about the sexploitation of increasingly younger girls, and performed my hiphop song about the true power that lies within us.  The girls left feeling renewed love for who they are and in touch with their reservoirs of inner strenth to be themselves.  Here are a few of their comments:

Dear Brie,  Your presentation was amazing!  Your words really make a difference within the girls at our school.  I really hope to somehow see you again before June, maybe you could come back.  We would love it!  I hope you enjoyed our art and our school, we had a lot of fun.   I now know I will think about myself in a more positive and happy way.  I hope to see you soon!
I had a great time!  It was very moving and inspirational!  I hope to see you next year!

Thank you so much!  Your presentation was inspiring and really hit home.  You’re really cool and love the way you convey the info!  I don’t know how to say how much I loved it!

 Here are a few of the lyrics to my hip hop song:

Ever ask yourself who beats the heart of this world

It’s our own evolution you and me girl

Yo girlfriend, I don’t wanna compete

I won’t say who struts a better cut of meat

My life has no price; this body’s not up for sale

I refuse to make my temple into profit jail

Brie and the girls, post Love the Skin You’re In

That day, the Sunderland Public School girls were role models for young women everywhere.  They gave themselves the task of healthy construction of identity beyond the media’s one-dimensional and objectifying view of women.  Furthermore, they challenged themselves to place their attention on something big, bold and truly beautiful: kindness and care for every girl everywhere.

 Girls spelling love across the screen, Love the Skin You’re In, December 2011

They reinforced what the Dalai Lama has told us:  The world will be saved by western women.  They reflected back to me the scope and complexity of their beings, built resilience toward resisting eating disorders, negative body image, and dieting, and carved out a new piece of herstory.  When we all hugged good-bye and they thanked me for coming amidst their outpourings I was lost for words.  The pleasure was mine.  600 cupcakes indeed!

p.s. don’t forget the cake – it was awesome!  They let me keep the bow!

If you would like to host an uplifting Love the Skin You’re In talk for your Because I Am a Girl Event, cut and paste this email:

Together we can make a difference for girls here and everywhere!

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