In their tween and teenage years, girls become dramatically less self-assured, their confidence plummets, and feelings of insecurity dictate their everyday lives. The adolescent drive for acceptance, the way we socialize women, and the double standards we hold have compounded the negative peer pressure on girls that causes many to question their body, their intelligence, and their worth. By the age of 14, the average girl is much less confident than the average boy. However, this feeling isn’t just temporary for some women. Confidence is essential for turning thoughts and feelings into action, and when the confidence gap that opens during puberty remains during adulthood, it harms women as they enter the workforce. So how do we fix this “confidence crisis”?
LiveGirl is a nonprofit based in New Canaan, founded by New Canaanite Sheri West in 2014, that provides free-of-charge leadership development and mentoring programs to girls in grades 5 through college. They start working with girls in middle school, which research has shown is the most critical time in a young person’s development. Their mission is to prepare the next generation of diverse, brave female leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that all girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world.
Moving from the small town of Bridgewater, Connecticut to Saxe Middle School—one of the largest middle schools in the state—in fifth grade, I was nervous. However, I had always been outgoing as a child, and had gotten along with everyone. Up until seventh grade I had never experienced any self doubt about the way I dressed or the friends I had. Then, I began to feel embarrassed that I didn’t own any Lululemon leggings and that I sweat too much during gym. My mom noticed that I was no longer as outspoken and constantly forced me to go to self-help events. Looking back, I am grateful for all the support I found.
LiveGirl, through its middle school programs and internship opportunities, helped me to “rise.” I found my voice and have become much more comfortable with public speaking, pitching ideas, and seeking feedback. I created the Gender Equality Club at my school to help empower other women, and recruit more members for the organization that had helped me.
With an art exhibit coming up June 2 to 16, called She is Rising, it’s important to acknowledge the impact this organization has had, does have, and will continue to have on young girls, primarily women of color. LiveGirl provides year-round programs that are proven to build social emotional intelligence and self-esteem, such as small group mentoring and access to positive role models. They also increase connectivity to their community through diverse friendships and role models. They have served more than 12,000 girls since 2014 and they will only continue to elevate those who need it the most. Because of LiveGirl, I am more ready to begin college in the fall. I will lean in, raise my hand, speak up. Because, I am Rising.
About She Is Rising:
LiveGirl will again partner with the Carriage Barn Arts Center for its fifth annual juried art exhibit. This year’s She Is Rising exhibit will feature over 100 artworks in all mediums by female artists celebrating women and girls. The exhibit will run June 2nd-16th, and LiveGirl will host an Opening Event featuring “Myth of the Nice Girl” bestselling author Fran Hauser on Thursday, June 2nd at 7pm. LiveGirl will also host a GirlChella Arts Festival on Friday, June 10th at 6-8pm, featuring live music, food trucks, and a tequila bar. Register at https://golivegirl.org/art-benefit.
This is incredible! You are such a talented and inspiring writer Elizabeth!
Wonderfully written, Elizabeth. Thank you for speaking truth to (em)power.
Praise and good wishes to Elizabeth Reed. As a retired art teacher and a grandmother to two teen-age girls, I loved her piece! Thank you, New Canaanite.
Wonderful piece Elizabeth! This organization sounds fantastic 🙂