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    The Kavanaugh Decision & Sexual Assault Victims

    The Kavanaugh Decision & Sexual Assault Victims

    by Makayla Smith, UAB student, and GirlSpring intern

    Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and as a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

    Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault. She said that the sexual assault occurred when she was 15 years old, and when he was 17. At the beginning of filing the complaint, Ford concealed her identity, in fear for her life. According to what she told The Washington Post, Ford claimed that “while his friend Mark Judge watched, Kavanaugh, intoxicated, held her down on a bed with his body, grinding against and groping her, covering her mouth when she tried to scream and trying to pull her clothes off. Finding it hard to breathe, she thought Kavanaugh was accidentally (her emphasis) going to kill her.”

    While he denied these allegations made by him, attorneys such as Debra Katz, Lisa Blanks, and Michael Bromwich encouraged her to come forward about what had happened. Ricki Seidman, who worked alongside the Anita Hill case, was also brought in to help Ford construct a personal hearing. Ford had also taken a polygraph test issued by a former FBI agent in which it proved that she was truthful about what she had said. Weeks after the case had settled, Congress elected Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Following the testimony of Dr. Ford, two other women stepped up, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.

    Regarding the Me Too movement, I would like to say that I stand with Dr. Ford and other sexual assault victims.

    When I learned that 1 in 4 women experience assault, I was repulsed. This is a public health issue that I feel so many people sweep under the rug. Because we live in a male-dominated society, women’s health and women’s rights are left to suffer.

    I also want to clarify that being raped can happen to anyone, whether you are a man, a woman, or someone who does not identify themselves within the two. Men also face the thought that if they were to come out about the sexual assault they have suffered, then it is an attack on their masculinity. It is something that makes them feel of less value especially if a woman rapes them. People view it as an attack on their strength.

    Mostly, it takes a lot of courage to confide in someone about these types of things happening. Some people think that it is normal until they have a safe space to talk about what it is that has happened. These people face the world, or their families, with the possible thought of not being believed.

    We need accountability in cases like these in our Federal government. We need to believe people and give victims a fair arena to get justice. Everyone deserves to reclaim the autonomy of their bodies when he or she feels that they were violated without permission.

  • Photography

    200 Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom, friends, and siblings!

    Brook Reece Holiday Gift Guide

    200 Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom, friends, and siblings!

    Looking for the perfect gifts? For your friends, mom, siblings, or maybe to treat yourself? We scoured the internet for the best holiday gift guides and found this great video with holiday gifts for girls by YouTube star Brook Reese. She lists 200 holiday gift ideas for girls.

    With so many choices to choose from, it can be hard to select a gift that is unique and meaningful. They say it is the thought that counts, but c’mon, we all want gifts that we love!

    Thanks Brooke for these great gift ideas! 

    Check out her Youtube page here.

     

  • Photography

    Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

    Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin

    by Sarah Vice

    It has become so easy to tell people to stand up for themselves and to take the criticism surrounding their circumstances, but when it comes to your livelihood as a teenager, “coming out” may not be possible. If you live in a heavily religious home, or just a morally “traditional” homestead, then you have limited options to what sexual opportunities there are. I remember a friend of mine telling me that he was so scared to be homosexual that he quit school to be homeschooled to be away from other boys. A girl I knew in high school started hurting herself because she felt unable to love who she wanted to love, due to the fear of being kicked out of her home.

    In situations like these, we come back to the realization that sexual preference is not something everyone has access to. If you are stressed because of your home life, then reach out for help. Please do not consider harming yourself or others, when professionals are willing to spend time talking with you and helping you figure out a better way to express yourself.

    Here are some tips from me on what to do when you are feeling like a part of you is missing:

    1. Keep a journal. I know it sounds silly and may be difficult for some, but write down everything. If you find someone, you like, but do not have the courage or ability to reach out to them, write about it. Write a heavily detailed letter to your guardians about how what they’re doing is hurting you (you do not have to give this to them). This works just as well with art, or wood carving, or any other form of creativeness. Take your stress out on something that makes you happy.
    2. Keep close friends that understand who you truly are. This way you feel less like your hiding it from the world but are still able to keep it from your parents or guardians.
    3. Read books. There are a lot of authors who have probably experienced similar situations to yours. All you have to do is find them. (This works for television as well).
    4. Get an animal or thing that you can use as something to talk to. Animals relieve stress and are always there to listen. If owning a pet is something you don’t have access to, then have a stuffed animal or important relic to talk to.

    Before hiding who you are, always be sure to have conversations with your parents or guardians if you do not already know where they stand on the subject. Sometimes people can surprise you.

    If you ever feel alone in your struggle or would just like some company, you can check out the Magic City Acceptance Center at the following link:

    http://www.magiccityacceptancecenter.org/

  • Photography

    Surviving Grief as a Teen

    Surviving Grief as a Teen

    The Holmes-Rahe Inventory, a world-renowned tool that documents life’s most stressful events, lists the death of someone close to you as one of the Top 5 most difficult life events. If you lose a parent, it can be particularly tough because your main support system may be lost as well. Recent studies have shown that when a parent dies suddenly, most teens experience grief that subsides over time. However, some teens find it difficult to survive the loss and may experience an increased risk of depression or inability to function normally.

    Why is getting help important?
    If you have very persistent grief, it is important to seek professional help. As mentioned above, strong grief can lead to psychiatric problems. Researchers warn that after two to nine months, if intense grief continues, it is a sign that a teen is not surviving grief well. The findings are also a wake-up call to the importance of preventing severe grief from taking over a teen. Even though grief can make us feel powerless, this time is also one in which we are often required to remain strong or think clearly. You may notice your surviving parent making financial arrangements or discussing changes for the family, which may include downsizing your home, changing your residence, etc. During this time, your input counts so the more mentally clear and strong you are, the better you can express yourself and handle the changes that the loss of a loved one may bring to your family.

    The right of teens to grieve
    Receiving help does not mean eradicating your right to grieve. The Mourner’s Bill of Rights for Children and Teens, created by The Bereavement Team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Notes that youths have fundamental grieving rights that should be respected by others. These include: the right to be sad and cry even if other people think you shouldn’t; the right to make some decisions for yourself; the right to be angry because of the death of a loved one; the right to ask for help from teachers, friends, or other adults; and the right to be a teacher. If you feel like living, laughing, or playing, do so. You are only a teen once and you should take advantage of the beautiful moments of inspiration you may have during this tough time.

    Understanding that grief involves different stages
    Grief can be complicated because you may feel so differently from one day to the next. You may start to feel stronger, only to feel totally down in the dumps the following day. Try and do a little reading, in particular into the work of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, one of the most famous thinkers and writers on the subject of grief. Kübler-Ross said that there were five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her research showed her that human beings do not necessarily go through these stages chronologically. Sometimes, we can spend a long time in one stage then go through others quickly, or go back, for instance, to feeling depressed after we have already felt acceptance. It is important for teen girls to understand that all these emotions are normal.

    Lowering your stress
    To enable you to withstand grief, try to instill as calm a state of mind as possible by adopting stress busting methods such as meditation, yoga, or even breathing. Studies have shown that these holistic practices can help teens with anxiety and depression. Research has also shown that social support is very important. In addition to finding support from friends and family, try to take part in community activities – anything from sports to worship. These activities will open your circles and help you feel less alone when the pain feels like more than you can handle.

    The loss of a loved one can make you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet. As a teen, you are at a crossroads in life in which parents in particular play such an important role, though the loss of a sibling, grandparent, or good friend can be devastating as well. Realize that grief is a cyclical thing, get help if you need it, and rely on other loved ones to help you feel like you aren’t alone at one of the toughest times in life.

  • Photography

    Welcome to the College Life

    Welcome to the College Life

    To All Middle School and High School Girls:

     

    I want you all to know, as a black woman who is in her third year of college, that higher education is nothing to fear. I know it is easy to think that the more that you continue to grow in your education, the worse it becomes and that is not true. The amount of diversity and the amount of girl power that you can find in these institutions can be quite freeing and quite liberating. There is finally a chance to be able to define your life in your own terms, without anyone stopping you. You will finally learn how great you are.

    Often times, as women, we are socialized to depend on how we look to speak for who we are and that is not true. There are many intelligent women among us and in these sacred, educated spaces. Here, you have the ability to deconstruct those stigmas and be who you have always dreamt of being. If you are able to create this type of space at an even younger age then that is amazing in itself because you have an earlier start to see what it is that you are in this world. Through this, you can help other women or other girls your age to feel comfortable in who they are.

    Sometimes it is hard. The workload can be stubborn and it may feel as if you aren’t going to move far from where you are. This is not true either. The opportunities the world has for us is truly endless. I often look to my ancestors, like Lorraine Hansberry and Zora Neale Hurston, who dedicated their lives to the liberation of all people through their writing and allow them to build my confidence. I think that it is okay, during times like those (when it can be tough on the mind to deal with) to reach out and look to other women that have paved the way for us. Doing this, has helped me to be grateful for the things that I have in the moment and has allowed me to believe that anything is possible.

    Do not forget your dreams and aspirations on this journey and do not begin to start on this quest when you are a senior in high school. You are never too young or too old to make a detailed plan on these kinds of things. The younger you are, the better it is to see what you want and to build an in depth career plan off of it. Make yourself proud.

    Do as much research on your own as you can and do not let anyone steer you away from what you feel is yours. Study for the ACT early. Make a list of schools that you could see yourself being at in the next few years. Be confident in those choices and allow it to radiate. Do not give your power away to anyone else and keep a humble head because the choices are limitless.

  • Photography

    Monday Motivational Music: Might Not Like Me by Brynn Elliott

    Monday Motivational Music: Might Not Like Me by Brynn Elliott

    Welcome to the first week of Monday Motivational Music, GirlSpring’s weekly blog featuring a song that inspires us at GirlSpring and young women around the world.

    This week’s song is called “Might Not Like Me” by Brynn Elliott. In this song, Elliot sings about female empowerment and not being ashamed of being strong.

    My favorite lyric from the song is:

    Get over yourself, it’s no big deal
    If I run a little faster than you on the playground

    This song, toted as a breakup song, is more than that. It’s accepting yourself and not downgrading your abilities. That’s why this song is our first pick for our Monday Motivational Music series.

    Do you have a song that inspires you? Go to www.girlspring.com/submit to submit your own or DM us on instagram, @girlspringpower.

    You can read more about Brynn Elliott and this song here.

  • Photography

    Undressing in Gym Class

    Undressing in Gym Class

    If you’re anything like I was in middle school, you dread[ed] having to change in front of the other students during gym class. It wasn’t because I felt like other girls were “checking me out” or being judgement, most of the problem came from how uncomfortable I was with my body. For some girls, it may be something else, such as a religion or just being timid in general. All in all, the root of the problem is the lack of instruction on how the situation could be handled or avoided.

    I ended up pretending to be sick quite a few times, just so I could go see the nurse while everyone was changing. I even missed the school’s Scoliosis Screening tests each year, because I didn’t want to have to take off my shirt in front of the other girls or adults. As it turns out, I have a mild case of Scoliosis and could have been treated for my pain a long time ago with proper physical therapy. Instead, I played hooky with an ear infection and spent years with unidentifiable pain.

    It wasn’t until high school that I discovered a few solutions to my problem:

    • The other girls are more than likely not going to watch you change, in the same way that you probably don’t notice the other girls changing.

     

    • There are bathrooms available to change in in most locker rooms.

     

    • It is okay to be a different body size than the other girls, just as it is okay to have different marks on your body.

     

    • If you still do not feel confident changing in front of other people, then try putting your gym shirt over the one you are wearing without putting your arms through the holes. Remove your arms from the other shirt’s holes and proceed to put them through the gym shirt’s. Then slip the other shirt either over your head or over your waist until you have removed it.

     

    • If you need to change bras, follow the same routine as the shirt, just add an extra step.

     

    • You can also wear your gym shirts/bras/shorts underneath whatever you choose to wear to school. Just be sure to wash them nightly or twice a week.

     

    • If you have friends, try asking them to hold a towel for you to change behind, and offer the same courtesy.

    I found this video with instructions on how to best change in a locker room for additional help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igbN_rPcwT0