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  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle, School, Social

    How to Find Your People

    three friends laughing together

    Its the end of summer… and we all know what that means. Goodbye summer nights and tan-lines, hello homework and teachers! The start of a new school year can be overwhelming. There’s the slight excitement of seeing all the people you didn’t see over the summer, buying new shiny school supplies, but there’s always some bit of anxiety about the unknown. A lot can happen in the summer, and returning back to school can come with a little stress. 

    The excitement and nervousness that comes with the school year can bring new people into your life. While this can be scary, accept it! School is always easier when you have the people that make you comfortable by your side. It’s not always easy to find your people, and that’s okay. Some of the best friendships in will come later in life, but for now, its time to make the most of the year! Follow these simple tips to keep an eye out for your people.

    1. Don’t be afraid of the small talk.

    It can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. Get all the quick facts out of the way, in order to talk about things that will give you a good indication if you are similar or not! Don’t let the anxiety of small talk prevent you from putting yourself out there.

    2. Find common interests.

    Find out what they like to do after school, how do they spend their free time? You never know who might be super into the same things as you! Exchange sports, hobbies, activities, and see what they like to do. Who knows, you might get recruited for an awesome new sports team or club!

    3. “Is that seat taken?”

    Take advantage of an empty seat! If you see someone sitting alone or with an empty seat next to them, push yourself outside that comfort zone and take a seat. This can be a great way to show someone you notice them and are interested in striking up a conversation! It’s also a great ice breaker to get the dialogue flowing.

    4. Be open-minded.

    Just because someone might not wear the same colors or styles as you, don’t write that person off as someone you wouldn’t like. As I said, you never know who you’re gonna meet. It can be refreshing to find a friend in an uncommon place!

    5. Meet someone new in town.

    There are always families moving in and out of town. If you notice someone you haven’t seen around town, or in school in years past, say hi! Ask them where they’re from and how they like it here. The simple gesture can go a long way for both of you!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com

    Choosing the Right College: FREE Event 9/29/19

    Choosing the Right College to fit Your Budget and Interests

    Wonder Woman, Ginger Mayfield – College Advisor and Founder of Mayfield College Advising

    Geared for girls 6th grade and up and parents, the Wonder Women series features prominent women from our community and addresses topics relevant to girls in middle and high school. Join us for an engaging and interactive conversation about college – where to go, how to decide, and how to pay for it! Ginger will give a general overview of the college recruitment and admissions process and will highlight an often overlooked resource – women’s colleges. Get insights into the complicated college admissions process from someone with years of experience in this industry.

    Ginger learned from her father who was a college guidance counselor, and then she went on to get an MA in counseling, working as a high school counselor for several years before starting her own business. Now she works with clients across the area and visits 25 colleges per year. 

    Refreshments will be provided!

  • Articles, Fashion, GirlSpring.com, School

    Gender Bias and Dress Codes

    gender bias

    Opinion: How Dress Codes Generate Sexism

    Throughout high school, I was always so confused about the seemingly biased standards of dress set by the administration. Yoga pants were out of the question. Skirts and shorts had to be equivalent to the length of your arms. Razor-back tanks and spaghetti straps were seen as scandalous and must at least be covered by a cardigan. Bra straps were deemed as “provocative” and “distracting”. Girls with long limbs and developed features were the main targets for teachers of authority to pull into an office and tell them to go home or change.

     

     

    Maybe it is because I grew up predominantly in the South, a traditionally more conservative region of the nation, but I have been made well aware that girls are different than boys my entire life. Especially by women of authority.

     

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the South and its people. It is my home and I have deep-set roots in Alabama that tend to always bring me back no matter where I go. 

     

    But I am a part of a new generation of American women. So, I intend to be treated equally wherever I live, and therefore have been bucking the system ever since my mother allowed me to dress myself.

     

     
    But problematic dress codes are present in almost all areas of the country.

     

     

    Now, I understand the idea of looking presentable. Bad hygiene and body parts hanging out are obviously not welcomed in an educational or professional environment. However, standards regarding tightness of clothing and the presence of girls’ shoulders is a bit excessive in my opinion.

     

    Teaching girls at a young age that they should be hyper aware of how they dress in order to not distract the boys perpetuates sexism.

     

     

    Here’s why:

     

     

     

     

    What confuses me about the entire phenomenon of female-directed dress codes is the fact that a majority of the figures enforcing these rules are female. Women make up about 77% of the teaching force in the U.S. according to a national survey made in 2017. Nine out of ten teachers are female in primary schools, where dress codes start becoming stricter. What are these women teaching young girls about themselves?

     

    I remember learning early on that boys are held to different standards. Boys would tease me or push me in elementary school and I would come running to a teacher. My tears would be met with “oh they’re just being boys” or “they probably have a crush on you” or “maybe leave them alone”. I was taught early on that the boys being mean to me was my fault.

     

     
    I was provoking them to act that way.

     

    As the years rolled by and I started high school, my breasts and butt grew along with my height. Teachers began to pull me in their offices whenever they caught me wearing yoga pants under a t-shirt or if my shirt straps were not four fingers in width. Skirts that were perfectly fine for other girls to wear were not okay for me because the tips of my fingers reached four inches shy of my knees.

     

    I will never forget one particular instance in high school when I was wearing a pair of Nike shorts that were perfectly long with a large t-shirt during exam week. I was walking to my French exam with a group of my friends. They were wearing the same type of athletic shorts as me. 

     

    The Dean emerged from her office and called only my name out of the group. I told her that I was sorry for breaking the dress code and that I was leaving school right after the exam. She went into her office closet and emerged with a pair of huge, bulky ski pants and told me to put them on with a smirk on her face. I reluctantly agreed, arriving ten minutes late to my exam with everyone laughing at me. After that, I could not even focus on taking the test because I was shaking from the tears welling up in my eyes.

     

     
    That’s just messed up. 
     

     

    I started to question the system every time I got called in for a minor dress code violation. Why are leggings banned but skinny jeans are allowed? Why do you not consider how long my arms are? Why are my shoulders not okay? Why do the boys never get dress coded?

     

    Keep in mind it was, and still is, the style for young men in the South to wear fishing shorts to school every day. I’m talking shorts are at least a third of an arm length too short in reference to most school dress codes. I have never heard of a male peer getting dress coded on the account of showing too much skin.

     

     

    Your clothes are bringing attention to yourself. We don’t want boys getting distracted. You could make the male teachers uncomfortable.

     

    When girls are given this particular “reasoning” it brings about a sense of shame. It counteracts the progress that society has made towards equality. Establishing rules about how much skin is being shown on a female’s chest, shoulders and legs sexualizes these body parts even more. Not only does this teach young girls that sexual harassment is self-inflicted, but it also conveys a message to boys that females deserve to be disrespected if they are not meeting certain standards. 

     

     

    These gender-biased dress standards are subliminally teaching young boys that there is no accountability for inappropriate behavior. Why are we not teaching children to be respectful of one another instead of initiating sexist values?

     

     

    Some schools across the nation have started making changes to their dress codes, including Evanston Township High School in Illinois. They went from banning leggings, shorts, short skirts, and spaghetti straps to allowing them in 2017. As well as training teachers to use neutral language while reprimanding students for a violation. However, many schools around the country are still holding onto strict dress codes for females. 

     

    One could argue that dress codes prepare students for a working environment, but at the same time it is better to teach kids when and where to dress appropriately. Yes, schools are meant for educational purposes, but students are already facing an overwhelming amount of social and academic pressures. Therefore, they deserve to feel comfortable in such a stressful environment during such a transitional stage in life.

     

     

     

    We should all have learned by now that nothing is more distracting to a teenager than being worried about what others think of you.
  • Articles, Food, GirlSpring.com, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle, Local

    A Gluten Free Guide To Birmingham

    Gluten Free Pancakes

    I have been gluten-free for a little over four years. A first, I struggled to find much to eat at restaurants beside the classic GF meal, a hamburger with no bun. I turned sixteen two years ago and decided that now that I could drive I was going to start finding new restaurants that offered a better variety of GF options. Now, I have found many restaurants that offer GF options without giving up delicious flavor. I wanted to share a list of my favorite GF foods you can find in Birmingham, AL! 

    Breakfast Options:

    • Another Broken Egg has the best GF chocolate chip pancakes. They are so good that sometimes my sister will order them over the regular pancakes.
    • Magic Muffins offers a GF muffin. It is a nut/raisin muffin; though I wish they had a few different options of flavors, it is still a really yummy option.

    Lunch / Dinner Options:

    • Delta Blues is a 100% gluten-free restaurant, and let me tell you, it is my all-time favorite restaurant in Birmingham. They are known for their hot tamales (I recommend the Mississippi Mud tamale), but they also have chicken fingers, wings, and more fried foods that people on a GF diet can’t ever have. I highly urge everyone to try Delta Blues, gluten-free or not.
    • Slice Pizza and California Pizza Kitchen both offer a GF pizza that is quite delicious and worth the splurge.
    • P.F. Changs has an entire GF menu (you just have to request it once you sit down) that offers a lot of the meals on the regular menu with just a few modifications. 

    Snack / Dessert Options:

    • Church Street Coffee’s GF lemon poppy seed bread is unbelievably good. The first time I had a piece of it, it was so good that I questioned to make sure it was actually gluten-free!
    • Red Cat Coffee has a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and lots of other yummy GF baked treats that are all very yummy.
    • Cookie Fix’s #1 selling cookie, The Healthy PB Cookie, happens to be GF! There is a reason it is their best seller!

    I hope that if you are already GF or looking into what it is like to be GF, this list helped you realize how many options for a GF diet there are in Birmingham! It has been so fun to try new GF goodies and not have to always order the same thing whenever I eat out.

    Looking for more healthy eating options? Go to www.girlspring.com!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    Not Your Average Family

    family

    I wish everyone in the world could experience the look of bewilderment I receive when I try to explain my family dynamic. Yes, I am one of six kids. Yes, four of my siblings have a different mother. Yes, I am a 20-year-old with four nieces and nephews. Yes, my oldest brother just hit the 40-year milestone.

    I might not have a traditional family, but I wouldn’t change my upbringing for the world.

    I imagine my older siblings and I get along so well because they spent most of their life raised in a different home. We didn’t have the stereotypical sibling experience of being at each other’s throats 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Except for my younger, full sister. She’s a terror). I would see my half-brothers and sister every other week, which isn’t much time, but we made up for it.

    Reflecting on my childhood memories, my favorite times have always included them. My brother Zack, a high schooler at the time, showing me what “cool” music was while laboring over yard work. Baking Christmas cookies with my older sister, Katie, while belting out “Winter Wonderland” at the top of our lungs. My oldest brothers, Darin and Chad, instructing me on how to throw the perfect spiral, urging me to stay outside in the brisk Illinois air until I perfected it.

    While these memories, along with countless more, have made my childhood so special, I’ve realized, just in the past few years, how important my siblings are in shaping who I am.

    My Siblings Shaped Me

    The summer before my freshman year of college, I received a gift from my older sister: a necklace with an angel charm. But placed on the box was the true gift—a sticky-note asking me to be her maid of honor. Shock rippled through me. All of my older brothers were married at this point, but this proposal hit me the hardest; I felt like it was just yesterday that Katie and I were dancing to “Crazy Frog,” pajama pants pulled up to our belly-buttons. And now she’s getting married?

    Months passed, and I moved to Alabama for college. For the first time, I had been away from my family. It was also the first time I could truly sense my own identity, learning how much of a role my siblings played in it. Fall break rolled around at the same time as my sister’s wedding, and I was so excited to return to the mundane cornfields of the Midwest. More so, it would be the first time in years that all my siblings would be in the same room.

    We’re Back Together

    The last time we were all together was Katie’s high school graduation in 2012. One of my older brothers had a falling out with my parents and hadn’t spoken to them in years. My other brother had entered the Air Force, living in Iraq, Hawaii, New Mexico, and most recently, Florida. My oldest brother was fighting over custody for my nephew.

    Life had gotten in the way.

    Although I had never been more excited to see my siblings, I had also never been more nervous. Would they talk to me? Would there be a fight? God forbid, would something ruin my sister’s wedding day?

    I’ll never forget how I felt as I walked into the wedding rehearsal. I froze and looked around at the familiar faces. Faces I had grown up with, that I had shared so many memories with, but somehow, they looked like strangers. I can only compare the feeling as walking up to a podium, preparing to give a speech to a 400-person lecture hall. It was nerve-wracking.

    But then, all at once, I couldn’t remember why I was even worried in the first place. My brothers and sisters hurtled towards me, enveloping me in the most loving, warm embrace. I’ll never forget it.

    Despite everything, we’re still family

    I Idolized my older siblings in my younger years, but as I grow up, I realize how flawed they really are. How flawed we all were. But I never should’ve doubted the indestructible bond of family.

    I would never trade the unique dynamic of my family, or the lessons they taught me. I learned how to throw a football (a perfect spiral, might I add). How to flawlessly decorate a Christmas cookie and how to execute an impeccable punch (thanks, Zack). But from them, I also realize the gratification of being an aunt. To not take everything so seriously. To not grow up so fast.

    I learned that these people have shaped me into who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    Family teaches you invaluable lessons like how to throw a football or that it’s okay to like stupid stuff. Madeline has ten invaluable lessons that she learned before turning 20, check them out!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Mental Health, Stress

    What Having a Birthday on 9/11 is Like

    Photo of 9/11


    9/11 is a day that every American recognizes. From annual news specials on television to first-hand accounts read at school, there are constant reminders of that fateful day. I grew up as many other kids born in the early 2000s. We would learn about different tragedies happening to individuals that day, which contributed to a greater tragedy concerning all Americans. When people ask when my birthday is, they respond one of two ways: they act like it’s normal and try to keep a straight face without showing pity, or they face it head on and express their condolences as if I lost someone in the event. I always wait to see which reaction they give,  leading to a peek into their personality. At least it is a conversation starter.

    In first grade we had an assignment to go home and research something that happened on our birthday. Because I was a 7 year-old who was quite ignorant to the actual events of that day but just thought it was a “bad day.” I went home so excited to see if I could find something good that happened on my birthday. I asked my mom to help me, and she was clearly hesitant about the assignment. Nonetheless, she agreed to look into it with me. She expected to have to file through a lot of articles on 9/11, but she thought that surely we could find something positive. However, besides several celebrities being born that day, we found nothing. I started crying and asked why we couldn’t find anything, and she had no answers for me. 

    In fifth grade we went on a school field trip to Washington D.C. I was so excited to see the White House– all of the famous monuments and especially the Smithsonian. When we got to the Newseum, I was thrilled to see the display of a real newsdesk and other objects that were famously stored there. However, the visit darkened when we spent thirty minutes of the tour at the 9/11 exhibit. The walls were covered in the original headlines for the event from that day. There was also a piece of one of the towers placed in the middle standing several stories high. I started to get upset, and I told my mom. She asked the tour guide and teachers if we could go someplace else just so I wouldn’t have to endure it as long as the others did. She has never shielded me from it, but I already knew many of the details, and she thought she might as well save the day of wonder in D.C. if she could. She had shown me films, documentaries, and short films so I could be informed that it wasn’t a “bad day” for no reason.

    In seventh grade, we watched a livestream of people affected by 9/11 giving speeches in Washington D.C. I remember trying to hold the tears back as I finally broke down and ran to the bathroom. One of my friends in the grade above me came into the bathroom and asked if I was okay. She believed me when I said I had bad allergies, and I was left in peace even though I have never had seasonal allergies. It was on that day that I realized how unfortunate it was that I was crying on my birthday. I realized that I would probably cry on every birthday after that. I had cried before on my birthday for the same reason, but I never really thought about the fact that I would be dealing with this for the rest of my life. 

    I would like you to notice, yourself, on that day listening to stories on the radio or researching the news coverage. Then, I would like you to imagine that it was your birthday. I am deprived in a way that birthdays are meant to be–days that you can be completely narcissistic and have everything centered around you. However, I always feel an obligation to not make it about me. I feel an obligation to make it about anything but me. My birthday is a day when millions of people suffered the devastation caused by outside forces to our homeland. My birthday is a day when brothers lost sisters and sisters lost brothers. My birthday is an annual day of flag lowering and prayer throughout the nation. My birthday is a reminder of disaster, loss, and hopelessness. 

    I am not trying to throw a pity party through this article. Clearly, the actual events and stories that happened on that day were far worse than anything that has affected me. Everyone should know about what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. I am thankful, in a way, that it is my birthday because it grounds me in reality. It is an annual reminder that if we want this world to be a better place, it starts right here at home. It is tough, and I have taken off from school on my birthday at times to just get away from it. Luckily, my friends and family are incredibly sympathetic and try to make it as happy as it can be. I am writing this to explain my experience and acknowledge an annual phenomenon on that day besides the one we all know. If you ever meet anyone born on 9/11, all we want from you is a happy birthday wish and a smile. Any little moment of positivity on that day brightens our day to be brighter than the last. I aspire to make each birthday better than the last. I try to inject it with as much positivity as the laws of physics can bestow. I will, hopefully, be experiencing it for a long time, after all.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Travel

    Across The Pond and Beyond

    travel tips

    All the must-do travel tips before you leave for your vacation overseas.

    Know before you go

    Before you leave for your trip make a point to do some research on the parts of the country that you will visit.

    • Learn key phrases
    • Find fun restaurants to try
    • Look for the most popular attractions around that area

    Packing Do’s and Don’ts

    When packing for a vacation, especially in a foreign country, it’s imperative to check the weather before you pack! By checking the weather you are a step ahead by knowing the temperatures all week. 

    Tip: Always pack a lightweight jacket just in case you find yourself somewhere chilly! 

    Sometimes packing is my enemy… ugh. I always over pack, it’s like a disease. So, when packing, be sure not to bring too much of one thing. 

    For example: Try to evenly distribute the number of socks you pack per each pair of shoes. Hint – you don’t need 12 pairs of socks if you are only going to be gone for a week. 

    Preparing for an Overnight Flight

    When flying on any plane it can be very drying to your skin, my secret weapon is always making sure I have a face mask with me. (It might look silly, but you’ll thank me later) 

    I also can’t forget my lotion because my hands get very dry too! 

    Tip: In my experience shorts on a plane is the worst! When you’re on a plane the air is usually much colder in the air. Comfy joggers or leggings are the way to go!!

    Here are a few of my fave joggers and face masks for a long plane ride!

    https://shop.lululemon.com/p/women-pants/Dance-Studio-Jogger-29/_/prod9080134?color=31382

    https://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=226737022&cid=1057675&pcid=1011761&grid=productSearch_23_48_1#pdp-page-content

    https://www.sephora.com/product/face-mask-P429722?icid2=products%20grid:p429722

    https://www.sephora.com/product/dermask-water-jet-soothing-hydra-solution-P397622?icid2=products%20grid:p397622

    How to Battle Jet Lag

    Jetlag is the absolute worst! It leaves you feeling tired and moody, and sucks all of the energy out of you when you most need it. The number one thing to remember when fighting off the lag is to not fall asleep when you get to your destination. Whatever you do, I repeat, do not go to sleep. Trust me, your circadian rhythm is so off that you will not wake up for hours and you might end up wasting a whole day. Drink tons of water and stay hydrated! Soon enough your body will adjust and your rhythm will go back to normal. 

    Thanks for reading these travel tips and bon voyage!!!

    Even if you’re just going on a two-hour car ride to your grandparent’s house, you can make your trip ten times more fun with these road trip tips.