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It embarrasses me to admit this, but I haven’t always considered myself a feminist. It wasn’t until I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In last year that I realized feminists aren’t the crazy, hippie, bra-burning women they used to be. They–we–are simply people who believe women as a whole are not given equal opportunities and are misrepresented in the mainstream media.
Once I realized this, I was like “Oh, well duh. Of course I’m a feminist.”
My eyes were opened even more when I went to Invisible Children’s Fourth Estate Leadership Summit back in August of 2013. One of the sessions I attended was called “Who Runs the World? Girls,” during which a panel of women spoke about all things women. This panel included my good friend Meg; actress Sophia Bush; and one of the founders of the nonprofit I Am That Girl, Alexis Jones.
The session changed my perspective on a lot of things and got me interested in I Am That Girl. Then I found out Alexis was writing a book, also called I Am That Girl, so as soon as it became available in March, I had my hands on it.
While the book was a little easy to put down, I still loved it. In fact, I’ve already bought two more copies to give as gifts and plan on giving it to every girl I know for our next gift-giving holiday.
I Am That Girl is one of those books I will be keeping on my desk or anywhere within reach. The snippets of information coupled with stories of real-life women illustrates the fact that we aren’t so different from one another. We’ve all made bad choices, we’ve all been embarrassed about our appearance, and we’ve all wanted to be something we’re not. Once we realize this, we can work together to get past it. The key is for women to collaborate rather than compete.
If you’ve been a girl in middle school or high school, you know how catty some girls can be. And when you’re on the receiving end of it (read: all girls in middle school or high school), you know how much it sucks. And if you haven’t been a girl in middle school or high school, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve at least seen Mean Girls. Fill in your memories of the movie in place of personal memories.
Imagine what those experiences would have been like if we had all worked together instead of competing against each other. How much better of an experience would it have been?
In I Am That Girl, Alexis walks you through the process of finding your passion, building self-confidence, and being “that girl.” It sounds like one of those tacky self-help books, but I promise it isn’t tacky. Alexis isn’t one of those authors who seems to look down at his or her readers saying “if you follow my instructions and act just like me, you will succeed, because I can do no wrong.” She exemplifies her message by filling the book with her own experiences: living out of a garage, having to be hospitalized three times before realizing she was over-working herself, surviving on a deserted island on Survivor, and getting into her dream college when few people thought she could do it.
This book made me think back on my life and all of the petty arguments, all of the embarrassing moments, and all of the big mistakes I’ve made. Before reading this book, I would have tried to ignore them and wish they hadn’t existed. Alexis helped me realize that these are a part of my life, and without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And there’s beauty in that.
I encourage you to read this book for yourself rather than take my word on it, however. After all, that’s the whole point: we have to get our own message out of it. One thing worked for Alexis, but that’s not going to work for me. However, it made me think of something else that will work for me. The same will happen for you.