Raising Authentic Girls: Rachel Simmons’ “Be You! The Real Girl Tour”

August 31, 2010 “Be you!” Riiiiight.

In a media environment that cynically exploits how to act, what to wear, why to buy and who to be, girls are repeatedly told to “be themselves.”

GirlsHealth has a perky “Be healthy. Be happy. Be You. Be Beautiful” site.

Girls Inc is “inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold.”

Jess Weiner is “Creating A Nation of Confident Women and Girls.” Courtney Macavinta’s holding RespectRx rallies. Rosalind Wiseman is “creating cultures of dignity,” pairing mother/daughters in a Dove Go Fresh sponsored “Girl World Tour” tackling girls’ relational aggression…

…AND in two weeks,  Curse of the Good Girl author Rachel Simmons is coming to the Bay Area with “Be You! The Real Girl Tour.” (here’s my prior interview with Rachel when Curse of the Good Girl launched. Sounds like a heckuvalotta girlpower eh?

It’s actually just a teeny weeny course correction in a rip-roaring, ever-changing sea, as these leaders help girls navigate away from pop culture icebergs running them aground in today’s media messaging and marketing environment. In fact, my first reaction to hearing the phrase “Be You” was “fergawdsakes they’re TRYING, but it’s easier said than done!”

“Be You” is a tall order in our amped up media culture of shoulds and coulds…

It’s VERY telling that these powerhouse colleagues and orgs I adore are all hellbent on ramping up girls’ sense of self to replace what media messaging has whittled away… Having witnessed the damage to girls’ socioemotional landscapes on an ongoing basis, I’m in the camp of “we can use all the help we can get.” Bring it.

With rampant sexualization and objectification of girls as commodity products along with appearance-based cues of never being “enough” it’s obvious to me how girls self-worth has slid sideways in a moshpit of media messages. So when I hear “Be You!” it tends to land on me as a cross between idealistic “rah-rah” feel-good rhetoric and a slapdash attempt to command compliance from teens swimming in a cesspool of peer pressured angst.

Truth is, without some evidentiary pragmatics to suggest concrete pathways for girls to deep dive into their own psyches and self-rescue from the quicksand of self-criticism and doubt, I’d probably toss off the “Be You!” tour as a ‘fluff-n-stuff’ fun fest…

BUT…this is Rachel Simmons, and I’ve attended her speaking engagements and am a huge fan of her work. I know she delivers the goods to help those of us who either have girls or ARE girls…so I’m there.

(She’s already sold out one of her events, and some are freebies, but the one I’m attending is Sept. 14 in Atherton as a fundraising benefit for Girls Leadership Institute Scholarship Fund.  Proceeds will provide scholarships for girls in need in the Bay Area to attend GLI workshops and camps.)

If anyone can uplift and breakthrough the lather/rinse/repeat drama cycles awash in households like mine, to add nuance, perspective, and SUGGESTIONS for how to dial down the confusion and bridge communication toward wellness and healthy worldviews for adolescent girls, Rachel can.

As founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, Rachel is well-versed in ‘what works and what doesn’t” in terms of teaching skills and putting them into practice. She’s able to give us the TOOLS we need in her hilariously whipsmart delivery depicting life in the teen trenches that EVERY age can relate to…So if you can see her work with the audience (ages 8 & up) ‘live’ it’s a hoot, as she has a freshness and casual, conversational style as I wrote in my last post about her appearance locally, “Rachel Simmons grabbed the girls’ attention from the get-go like a ‘BFF’ who’d ‘been there, done that’ so it gave us all an exhale that this was going to be a night of raw and real candor,  not a bunch of platitudes.”

She’s got lots of videos and talk show circuit clips on her site, but personally, it’s worth the “field research” for me to watch Rachel in person, in action, as she teases out truths akin to a Barbara Walters for the tween tribe…

The girls interact with “hands-on how tos” grounded in cognitive psychology while the Curse of the Good Girl book itself holds the print version of same with guiding exercises and  constructive grids to reframe dialog so that it’s more productive for all parties.

She’s also got a great section on her site called Girl Tips offering weekly, short, bite-sized advice…and a new video clips section to dial down the digital drama and friendship fiascos called BFF2.0.

She’s coming to my neck of the woods just in time, as I sometimes feel like I’m smack dab in the middle of some overblown reality show unable to comprehend the antics I see working with kids at various ages and stages, which also includes my role as both a mentor and a mom.

Much like my last post about wildly swinging pendulums of over-correction versus calm, measured reason I just don’t ‘get’ drama queen antics a lot of the time because “I don’t DO drama.” I don’t have much tolerance for it because my personality doesn’t ‘go there’ and I find it confusing and hard to relate to.

That said, as a ‘recovering Good Girl’ when I see anger from young girls directed willy-nilly  I TRY to view it as healthy expression…BUT when I hear shrieking theatrics and over-the-top door-slamming it seems more like media induced parroting of obnoxious behavioral toxicity.

Fine line. Much like the post I wrote about role modeling resiliency and kids’ coping skills (or lack thereof) it seems there’s a strong need to really TEACH how to handle confrontation and conflict without the drama-rama personalized angst painted on to the canvas.

In fact, I spent the entire morning rereading chapter 10 of Curse of the Good Girl, titled “Facing Criticism With Clear Heads,” to glean some pointers since it’s not in my lexicon or ability to relate when I hear girls berate themselves and self-label for seemingly minor infractions. (e.g. a missed sports team point=my team will never trust me again; a lower grade=I’m an idiot and will never get into college )

Rachel quotes psychologist Aaron Beck about these mental triggers, referred to as “automatic thoughts” that occur on a barely conscious level but which can” set off chain reactions of intense feelings, thoughts and actions.” I’ll say.

I have a whole report on that chapter alone which I’ll save for later…as I’d forgotten how spot on her insights are in capturing the ‘girl dynamic’ perceiving teachers and coaches as the equivalents of a ‘first boss,’ often ending up on the receiving end of emotional accusations, “S/he hates me,” using distorted thinking to take a valid criticism into a perceived attack, etc.

Rachel even mentions the use of digital media to dodge confrontation, which is something that our own SY advisor Dr. Robyn Silverman just blogged and experienced firsthand in, “Is Texting Getting In the Way of Responsibility and Conflict Resolution?”

For now, I’ll hush and post the “Be You! Real Girl Tour” dates coming up for the Bay Area with a double-thumbs up recommend and a “tweet me @ShapingYouth to say hello if you’re there.” And for those who haven’t read Curse of the Good Girl yet,  it’s out in paperback as of today.

About Rachel Simmons’ Be You! Real Girl Tour

Adults and girls (ages 8 & up) are invited to join bestselling author and Girls Leadership Institute co-founder Rachel Simmons for a fun, interactive back-to-school workshop on getting the most out of friendships and staying true to yourself.

With laughter and honesty, Rachel will teach girls powerful strategies to express themselves with authenticity and confidence, deal with friend drama effectively, and make healthy decisions in relationships. Adults will learn tools to support girls on the journey. Bring lots of questions and stay for the book signing!

Be You! The Real Girl Tour Details

Monday, September 13
DANVILLE, CA
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Road
Danville, CA
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Admission is free but participants must pre-register at www.curseofthegoodgirl.eventbrite.com
Sponsored by Los Cerros Middle School PTA and Girls Leadership Institute
Download the Danville flier here

Join Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth, & bring tweens/teens to say hello!

Tuesday, September 14
ATHERTON, CA
Menlo Atherton Performing Arts Center
555 Middlefield Road
Atherton, CA
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Admission is $18.00 /parent-daughter pair or $10.00 for a single ticket
Please note that this is a fundraiser for Girls Leadership Institute
Tickets available at www.rachelsimmonsmenlo.eventbrite.com
Download the Atherton Flier here

Wednesday, September 22
DALLAS, TX
The Lamplighter School
11611 Inwood Road
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sponsored by Barnes & Noble – Preston & Park

Admission $15.00 per parent/daughter (excluding taxes)
Includes one copy of The Curse of the Good Girl
Tickets on sale in August from Barnes & Noble – Preston & Park, by phone (972) 612-4028, via e-mail here, or in store at 2201 Preston Road, Suite E, Plano Texas.
Download the Dallas flier here

Thursday, September 30
HOUSTON, TX
St. Agnes Academy
9000 Bellaire Boulevard
Time 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sponsored by Blue Willow Bookshop

Admission fee $15.00 per parent/daughter
Includes one copy of The Curse of the Good Girl
Tickets on sale in August from Blue Willow Bookshop, by phone at (281) 497-8675 or for more information visit Blue Willow Bookshop.
Download the Houston flier here

Monday, October 4
ST. LOUIS, MO

Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School
101 North Warson Road
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sponsored by Left Bank Books

Admission $20.00 per parent/daughter
Includes one copy of The Curse of the Good Girl
Tickets on sale in August from Left Bank Books, by phone at (314) 367-6731 or online at  Left Bank Books
Download the St. Louis flier here

Monday, October 11
DECATUR, GA

The Decatur High Performing Arts Center
310 North McDonough Street
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Sponsored by A Capella Books
Please note that this is a fundraiser for The Decatur Education Foundation

Admission fee $18.00 per parent/daughter
Includes one copy of The Curse of the Good Girl
Tickets on sale September 1 from A Capella Books, by phone at (404) 681-5128 or for more information visit A Capella Books
Download the Decatur flier here

Rachel Simmons/Today Show & Girls Leadership Institute 2010 clip

Comments

  1. Amy!! Love this post and having a fan like you in my corner — and an advocate and thinker like you working for girls and parents. See you in Cali! :)
    Rachel Simmons recently posted..The New York Times Profiles The Girls Leadership InstituteMy Profile

  2. Gosh!!! I wish I could attend with my daughter, but there’s school and distance getting in the way.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date with all these girl-empowering events and write ups.

    You go girl!

  3. Thoughtful points.

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