Young girls deserve strong role models and community leaders to look up to. Leaders that will model healthy lifestyles, empowering acts and authenticity.
The pressures that young girls face today are extreme. On a daily basis, young girls are exposed to experiences that have huge negative affects on them. Advertising, social expectations, and so-called social media influences are just a few examples.
I understand the psychology behind those advertising campaigns. I understand the social culture and motivators of social media influences. It’s logical. But I don’t believe it’s fair or ethical!
I’m talking about the unrealistic standard of physical appearance. About the unhealthy expectations implied to unsuspecting, impressionable young minds.
When I decided to place myself in the public eye, I made a very conscious decision to be real with these girls. As I knew there would be young girls watching me.
When I ran for council, they were watching me. When I was a finalist for Miss NAIDOC Perth, they were watching me. When I post on social media, they are watching me. When I write a blog or article, they are reading me. When I give a speech or talk on radio, they are listening to me… and they are learning.
I am a community role model. I say this with absolute humility. Being a role model is a huge honour and privilege. Being a role model is an important responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I am aware of those young eyes and ears that are focused on me, therefore I take being a role model very seriously.
As a role model, as a leader, you have the potential to mould the beliefs of these young girls. You can influence observable things like the type of clothes they wear and how they behave. Everything a role model does inadvertently teaches young girls about social culture, society, and how they fit into it. But the most powerful thing that leaders can do is influence what young girls believe about themselves.
If you are portraying something that is unrealistic or unhealthy, those girls will NEVER be enough in their minds. This is a disaster for them individually, their families and for the community as a whole.
These girls will be our future leaders and decision-makers. What hope do we have if they believe they’ve never been enough. They could not possibly thrive with this thinking. Our nation can’t possibly flourish, let alone advance with our girls with this thinking.
This mindset of not being enough will limit them from reaching their potential.
- It will stop them from using their voice and standing up for what they believe in.
- It will disempower them from stepping into their power and asserting their right to be respected.
- It will prevent them from making decisions and choices for themselves.
Knowing that my photos will be seen by thousands and thousands of people. I asked that my wrinkles remain. I asked that any bumps or pimples remain.
I wanted young girls to see that they can be what they want to be. Do what they want to do. And achieve whatever they want to achieve.
Because they can see themselves… in me! They look like me. They are me.
They could look at my face and see a real woman standing proudly with all her lumps, bumps and wrinkles. To know, that woman is completely comfortable in her own skin. She is strong. She is smart. She is inspiring and she is beautiful exactly how she is.
I want young girls to start a positive self-talk dialogue in their heads to say:
- I am me and I am perfect how I am.
- I am more than enough.
- I deserve to be respected.
- I deserve to be loved.
- I deserve to like myself.
- I deserve to love myself.
- And I am worthy of love and everything great that this world has to offer.
Wouldn’t that be amazing? To have those young girls talk to themselves like that?
Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan.
I was distracted at the Miss NAIDOC judges dinner night when I signed off on the photo release forms. I mentioned that there was something off about the photo. That it didn’t look like me. But I concluded that it was because I was wearing colours that I wouldn’t normally wear.
You can understand my disappointment when the professional photos were released publicly and… I realised they were photoshopped. (I want to jump in here and reiterate that it was my fault as I signed off on the photo).
Anywho, in the photo, I am missing a prominent line on my forehead and…
My mole was photoshopped off my face! (no wonder it didn’t look like me Haha! And I’m sure it was removed because maybe it looked like a pimple?? Haha!) However, I am happy that the wrinkles around my eyes remained.
Honestly though, this experience left me with mixed emotions.
I was excited that I was announced as a Miss NAIDOC finalist. It had been a goal of mine for almost a year. But because of my lack of focus when signing the release form, I was not able to share an important message. I wasn’t able to fulfill one of the things I set out to do when I decided to apply.
So here I am, writing this blog. Doing the second best thing I can think of to get this message out…
I am beautiful exactly how I am and you are beautiful exactly the way you are!
I wanted the young girls to see the real me so I may be able to inspire and empower them to be the real them.
We don’t need photoshop to be beautiful, because we are! (Even on bad hair days)
If we want to empower these girls to be leaders. To stand strong in their sovereignty. We as leaders and role models, have to get real with ourselves and with these young girls.
Because without authenticity in role models and community leaders… We. All. Lose!
Until next time. Power to the young girls!
Interested in how I got accepted into the Miss NAIDOC Perth empowerment program? Read what I wrote in my application here, spelling mistakes and all.
Want to know how I got into blogging. Find out where my journey began here.
Or do you want to find out more about NAIDOC? You can find out more here on the NAIDOC website.
Want to Check out Carlo Fernandes’ work? Check it out on his website.