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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, 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, Fashion, GirlSpring.com, School

    School Dress Codes

    school dress code

    How do you dress for class when the latest fashion trends are crop tops and leggings? When sitting through eight plus hours of lessons, the last thing you want to do is worry about what you look like. Yet with strict school dress codes for young girls, the pressure is on.

    Why is it fair that your ability to learn is determined by how long your skirt is?

    I was once sent to the principle’s office because my shirt was considered inappropriate. The principle took one look at my shirt and asked what the problem was. I had to explain that the teacher didn’t agree with the words printed on it. The shirt sported lyrics from a popular song at the time and were in no way derogatory, unless you believe the words “I’m only going to break you heart” should be banned.

    It is ridiculous the obstacles that females must jump through just to stay at school all day. If the public-school systems weighed our education over our appearances, we would surely have a better chance with our studies.

    The rules for measurement are based on how long or short your appendages are. The inability to wear clothes that are more suited for warmer climates is almost a punishment. Not to mention the amount of time and money that goes into finding “school-appropriate” clothing.

    You spend the whole summer wearing the things that feel comfortable on your body and make sense for the climate. Then you start back to school with a closet full of useless clothing.

    It might be a little different if classes started later in August or even after Labor Day like some colleges, but when school starts in the middle of the Summer season, shorts are inevitable.

    Here are some tips to survive this school year’s dress code:

    • Only buy ten items. Try to make the items interchangeable outfits. Finding plain clothing and adding accessories can help.
    • Find one store that has almost everything you need. Mine is Torrid. There are always clearance items and the clothing fits my body well. Not to mention, accessories and shoes come in abundance.
    • If you buy articles of clothing that would be considered revealing, wear leggings/colored pantyhose underneath. Or you can buy a cover-over (a cardigan, sweater, jacket, etc.).
    • Keep a spare T-shirt or pair of pants in your locker or backpack in case of wardrobe violation. This helps avoid the humiliation of having to wear gym clothes/lost-in-found clothes or having to go home for the rest of the day.
    • You may not be able to wear a crop top by itself, but turtlenecks, tank tops, and t shirts can be placed underneath one to make a cute statement.
    • You probably can’t wear leggings by themselves. Sweat pants, joggers, and other not-form-fitting workout pants can be comfortable to wear. Also, jeggings are not technically leggings, but can fit and feel just the same.

    Try reading over your school’s dress code to figure out what you can and can’t get away with. Some schools differ from others, which means yours might not have as strict of rules or it might be more strict than neighboring schools.

    Part of getting back to school ready is having your closet ready to go! Get ready with this video on how to polish your wardrobe. 

  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com, School

    Deciding What to Study in College

    what to study in college

    Throughout our childhood and into our high school and college years, many of us are asked the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

    In first grade, I probably answered this question with, “I want to be an artist!” because I loved spending hours after school each day creating “masterpieces” using my markers and colored pencils. However, as I started middle school, I soon realized that I was very interested in science. I loved how applicable it was to real life, and the fact that there was so much still to be discovered intrigued me. By the end of middle school, I was pretty confident that I wanted to be a doctor one day. I was fascinated with medicine and loved listening to others and offering advice.

    This didn’t change in high school, and it made choosing a major when applying to college fairly easy for me. I took several STEM courses over my high school years, and I pursued my medical interests through my extracurricular activities (in addition to exploring other areas of interest as well). Although this process was fairly straightforward for me, I can’t say it was the same for some of my peers.

    For many, high school offers a small introduction to the vast array of opportunities out there in the world.

    Most elementary and middle schools only offer the four basic subjects: math, science, social studies, and English. This is good, but very broad. In high school, students have the opportunity to take more specialized courses within each of these subject areas. There are courses like psychology, computer science, economics, and foreign languages. These can give individuals interested in pursuing a college education a better idea of what they might want to study in the future. In addition, through a multitude of clubs and extracurricular opportunities available, high school students can get involved in activities that allow them to further explore and develop their passions. Although high school gives students an opportunity to explore a variety of subject areas and experiences, I feel that it is still tough for some students to be certain of what they want to study in college since high school is mostly a time of exploration.

    Nowadays, most colleges don’t require an individual to commit to the major they list on their application (which I think is great).

    In fact, many colleges don’t require a student to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. This gives a student time during college to explore their passions and interests and decide accordingly. Some colleges might ask students to simply list broad subject areas they may be interested in studying, which lets students know that they are not committing themselves to something they are interested in at the moment for the entirety of college.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of college students change their major at least once. With such a high statistic, it is important to realize that many students are unsure of what they would like to study or do with their lives. Most haven’t had the opportunity to truly interact with and understand everything available to them until they’re in college. Today, many people stress the importance of setting goals and developing a detailed life plan from early on. Although this methodology is useful and may be beneficial for some individuals, it is not the best for everyone. Life is about having new experiences and doing things that make one happy. If this is a process that takes time for an individual, it shouldn’t automatically be considered unproductive or bad.

    Students are encouraged to make quick decisions. For many, I feel that it would be more helpful if they slowed down and took time to truly interact with the opportunities available to them. That way, they can make a more educated decision on what they want to study.

    Ultimately, I think it is most important for students to not feel stressed out or feel “behind”

    Just because you haven’t decided what you want to do with your life doesn’t mean you aren’t where you need to be. Each individual is unique, and we all have our own pace in which we go about doing things.

    My recommendation for high school students is as follows: this the time to explore opportunities available to you and chase your passions. When applying to college, reflect on what you enjoyed learning and doing in high school. This could be an indication of what you may be interested in studying. Use your first year of college (as I will also do this upcoming school year!) to decide whether you are enjoying the program you indicated interest in or would like to study something else. Overall, make sure you are finding value and enjoyment in what you are putting your time and effort towards.

    When you’re in high school, it’s always a good idea to keep college in the back of your mind. Here is some college advice geared to upcoming high school freshmen.

  • Articles, College, Confidence, School

    5 Things I Wish I Could Tell my High-School Self

    high school advice

    5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My High School Self

     

    If I had the choice to travel back in time to my first day of high school, to do everything differently, there’s no way I would do it. High school played its part in shaping me into the woman I am today. If I had a choice to send a letter to my 14-year-old self, however, I would give that girl supporting words and advice on how to carry herself. Words that I think every high-schooler should live by.

    Be okay with being alone.

    You’ll run into days when it feels like nobody is on the same wavelength as you like everyone else lives in a different dimension. Don’t strain yourself to fit in with the “cool” group. Don’t try to find a boyfriend because it’s what everyone else is doing. You’re always going to be your own best friend, so the sooner you accept yourself for everything you are and everything you’ll become, the sweeter life will be.

    Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    This is going to play a big part in preparing you for life outside of high school. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Take risks. When you challenge yourself and push your own boundaries, you open the door for beautiful, unexpected things to happen.

    Don’t worry what others think of you.

    Tell yourself this every morning when you wake up. And again in the middle of the day. And again. And again. Everyone is so concerned with what they’re doing and how they’re portrayed during high school, not what others are doing. Focusing on your own happiness and success will lead to the best memories.

    Stop worrying about the future.

    I was notorious for this in high school, and consequently, it tainted my final two years. Trust me, you’ll do well on that test. You’ll be accepted into a good college. You’ll find a career doing something you love. There come a time and place to focus on those thoughts, but don’t stress out about it too much right now.

    Realize that high school doesn’t last forever.

    You might not believe it right this moment, but you’re going to miss the hallways you stroll down each day. You’re going to miss those homework assignments because trust me, they get a lot harder. You’re going to miss seeing those familiar faces every day. While there may be some excruciatingly painful parts of high school, you never realize what you’re going to miss. Don’t take a minute of it for granted. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up; be present in each moment.

    Just take the moment to soak it all in, because when you look back you’ll think that is so high school. Think about that and other advice in the article “It Will All Be Over Soon.” 

  • Articles, College, School

    The Final Pages of your High School Chapter

    The Final Pages of your High School Chapter

    High school seems like it lasts a lifetime. And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over.

    Before you realize it, you’ll be cheering on your team at the last home football game, hardly registering the fleeting experience due to the overpowering noise from the bleachers and marching band.

    Soon after, you’ll be adding the finishing touches to your makeup, preparing to slip into your last prom dress.

    Although it may seem like a relief, in a few short months, you’ll be walking into harshly lit hallways and classrooms for the final time. You never realize how much you’ll miss the rooms that had the supernatural ability to make five minutes seem like a full hour.

    Speaking from personal experience, it’s easy to wish away the final days of high school. It’s easy to see everything from a negative perspective– too much homework, too many responsibilities, too little sleep.

    Don’t fall victim to that mindset like I did.

    Enjoy the time you have left with your friends; although you may spend eight or more hours with them now, soon, you will all be dispersed throughout the country, living different lives.

    If you’re involved in sports, give your full effort without taking the game too seriously. Some of my favorite memories began with goofing around with my best friends at track practice. This will also be the last time someone forces you to exercise… take advantage of that.

    Go all-out during spirit weeks and pep rallies. You’re not going to remember how silly you looked, you’re going to remember how much fun you had doing it. Don’t dull your high school experience by worrying about what others think.

    High school is a whirlwind of stress and emotions, but somewhere in between all of that mess, lifelong memories were made. Don’t take the time you have left for granted– live in the moment. Spend that extra hour with your childhood friends.  Dominate the dance floor at prom. Attend every sporting event that you possibly can, and don’t be afraid to cheer at the top of your lungs.

    These are the final pages of this chapter of your life. Make the most of them.

    Check out this letter from a college student to a high school senior. And remember you’re only in high school once!

    Even though you may be starting your senior year, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to grow and change. Here’s some advice on how to your own person in high school

  • Articles, Bullying, Confidence, Environment, GirlSpring.com, Interview, Lifestyle, Local, Mental Health, Relationships, School, Sexual Health, Social, Stress, Tough Questions, Writing

    Deciding To Come Out

    coming out

    ( Author’s Note: This website is for women empowerment. Men and Women can be feminist, therefore there are some males in this article.
    bri xx )

    Coming Out

    Coming out and discovering your sexuality is a really touchy subject and not everyone is comfortable with talking about their experiences. Although, it is a sensitive subject I know people (especially those who aren’t out yet) like to hear other LGBTQ+ coming out stories. Everyone’s story, of course, will be different! Some were accepted while others maybe weren’t. I had an okay experience which made me very curious about what other LGBTQ+ peoples’ experiences were. This led me to interview a few people with different cultural backgrounds to see how their experience went. I asked them all the same four questions.

    Here are their responses:

    Hayden Robinson
    Current Age: N/A
    Age You Came Out: 15
    Gender: Male
    Sexuality: Gay

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    During middle school, it felt kind of awkward walking through the underwear aisles. He started to realize when he had a crush on rapper Flo Rida.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It all was a bit of a process, the first person he told was already a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He told them over Instagram demos, but then told them to delete their conversation. Then in November, he told his sister. The next month, he told his mom, and the month after that, his father. Soon, he told his stepmother on Valentine’s Day. Eventually, he told his close friends, but he still wasn’t out to everyone which affected his mental health. So, one Friday afternoon, he made a Snapchat story saying he was gay.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Most of them knew already. Sister thought it was awesome that they could talk about boys together. Mom took it hard and was scared. Dad was kind of quiet and didn’t ask many questions besides how long did he know he was a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Stepmom didn’t think it was a big deal.
    Friends were excited and pretty much already knew it.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    He is very happy about it! He would not be where he is today if he hadn’t come out. His family and friends are also still very supportive.

    Linus
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out: 14
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Queer / Doesn’t really like labels though.

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    Younger, people would say a lot of homophobic things and she would take up for the LGBTQ+ community, not really realizing she was just standing up for herself.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It wasn’t really formal, she just kind of talked about a crush who was apart of the LGBTQ+ community.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Overall, friends acted normally while one “friend” tried to fully push her out of the closet which resulted in her cutting them off.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    She’s only out to friends, but is happy about making that decision. She plans on coming out to family when ready.

    Carter

    Current Age: 15 turning 16
    Age You Came Out At: 12
    Gender: Transgender Male
    Sexuality: Bisexual

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    The first time was when he was in a hospital and met people a part of that community. During that time, he was given a chest binder and a packer and decided to try it.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    He came out as bisexual when he was twelve around thanksgiving time. He came out as transgender at fourteen.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Friends weren’t accepting at all and didn’t really understand it.
    Mom was giving him the talk when he came out as bisexual and was okay with it. Dad didn’t really care, but questioned if he was really sure he was bisexual. When coming out as transgender, his mom was confused and not accepting. She thought he was too young to make that decision. Four years later, Mom has accepted it but doesn’t want him to make rash decisions.
    Parents told teachers to call him a different name but didn’t tell them that he is transgender.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes and No, he’s still battling with a couple of different things. Wishes he hadn’t told friends, but glad he came out to his family otherwise he would still be confused about things.

    Jamiah
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out At: 15
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Lesbian

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community

    In seventh grade. The first year at a new school and decided that she wasn’t attracted to guys anymore.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    Made the decision to come out because she didn’t want to hide anymore and just wanted to be honest with herself.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Mom and Brothers already knew and did not care nor treat her differently. Dad doesn’t know and is not gonna tell him because she feels he just won’t understand. Friends were really happy and weren’t really shocked.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes, Very Happy. She was just tired of hiding it and finally happy she can be open about her relationships.

    Talking with these individuals opened my eyes a lot.

    You always hear stories about people’s coming out experiences. Some are like a happy fairy tale ending. Some are not so happy and end with people taking their own lives. Not everyone is gonna be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but every individual has a right to express themselves and not be treated differently or less than anyone else in this world. Coming out is not the easiest to do so wait until you’re ready and are comfortable with sharing it to friends, family or anyone. Don’t let anyone force you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you are not comfortable with coming out, it’s perfectly fine, no pressure, but know that, even if it doesn’t feel like it, there are many people out there who love and support you.

    If you do come out and you start to experience verbal, physical, emotional abuse or any form of bullying, tell someone. Don’t let other people’s stupidity make you feel bad about being yourself. Hopefully, reading other people’s stories helped or educated you a little bit on how different everyone’s reactions and how it changed or didn’t change their lives.

    much love,
    bri xx

    Everyone deserves to feel comfortable being themself, gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever! Check out some tips on being comfortable in your own skin.

    If you are thinking about coming out but don’t know how to, or have more questions than you can count, look at the Human Right’s Campaign’s Coming Out Resource Guide.