Dear Friends, Last week, Girls Leadership Institute (GLI) alumna (former camper and staff member) Lilly Jay did something infinitely brave: she traveled to the White House, told her story of sexual assault in college, and introduced Vice President Joe Biden, who formally launched It’s on Us – a national campaign to combat sexual violence on campuses. Lilly is a …

Resolutions Revised

In the season of body talk, co-founder and Executive Director Simone Marean discusses the implications of the spotlight on weight loss and dieting, not only from the media but from our own lips. By shifting the issue from a diet and body issue to a leadership issue, we can help girls accept themselves, and turn years of wasted energy focused on scales and sizes to friendships, projects, and new ideas.

The holiday season is over and the season of body talk is in full swing. Every other ad on TV is for weight loss, friends bemoan the extra cookies they ate, and the grocery store check-out line is a gauntlet of “thinspiration” images with promises to slim down fast. Usually I can ignore this media noise, but this year, six weeks after giving birth to my second child, I am tempted by the alluring siren call of a brand new me. Why not make it a resolution? But as a new parent and an advocate of girls’ leadership, I find myself wrestling with the broader implications of this seemingly harmless annual tradition.

The girls in Club Real Girl, our after school program, have me rethinking the power of gossip. We started Club Real Girl by asking girls about their interests and obsessions. One idea kept reoccurring: girls talking behind each other’s back. So we started our program by exploring just that. Twenty-four fifth and sixth grade girls …

This does not look like fertile ground for an emerging real girl, but this is where I am: on the tennis court. I dismissed tennis for years as elitist or exclusive. The truth is I am scared of it. Tennis is hard. When one isn’t naturally gifted at sports, one develops a sports philosophy that is anti-competition. This philosophy leads to yoga classes, leisurely bike rides, or relaxing (slow) jogs. Tennis, unlike these solo sports, is about winning, and therefore another person loosing. I am a progressive educator that usually doesn’t embrace this kind of set-up, but let me tell you, I am going for this.

It started this summer while attempting to play doubles. Even though we couldn’t get close to what I would call a rally, there was something energizing about being out on the court. As we walked off the court GLI Assistant Director, Julia Loonin, said to me, “That was fun!” “Yea,” I casually replied, not realizing that Julia was already thinking ahead to taking lessons.