On Tuesday, I had the wonderful good fortune of spending some time with some amazing young ladies. Michelle Icard of Michelle in the Middle is an amazing professional friend (she is my co-host for Right in the Middle, the wonderful mother-daughter conference that gets you ready for middle school) whose work I really admire. She is a social leadership strategist with a focus on how to make the best of the middle school experience– for tweens and their parents- and one of her amazing offerings is a rich summer day camp program with offerings for both girls and boys.
Michelle read my It Comes Down to This post a few months ago and sent me an email asking if I could bring this message to her Athena’s Path 2 Camp, and because one of the things that my college students always share in their Body Image papers is that they wish that they had been taught the lesson of self-acceptance much earlier in their lives (like before they hit their teen years), I jumped at the chance to put together a new workshop for just this population of girls and their unique personal and social challenges.
In Bodies and Besties: How to be your own best friend while being the type of friend that makes every body feel good, we talked about what traits we want to seek out in our friends, how to replicate those traits in how we treat ourselves, how to have a positive influence on our friends, and how to create a positive relationship with ourselves. I asked the girls to really think about these things and examine their behaviors and they came up with brilliant insights like they most wanted to be complimented on their personalities and so would work to make sure those are the compliments they most often give their friends. And when they really do like how a friend braided her hair one day, they’ll make sure to compliment her on her cool sense of style while the two of them are alone rather than saying it in front of everyone and maybe making other people feel left out or not special. Their thoughtfulness and sensitivity was plenty amazing and so that could have been the day’s win and I would have called it excellent.
Except then the girls totally raised the bar.
At the end of our time together, I asked them to look over everything that we had discussed about being a good friend and self-accepting and then write a pledge to themselves about how that could all translate into being a good friend to themselves and growing strong mentally and physically. That is not a necessarily easy task to ask someone of any age but these rising sixth and seventh graders totally answered that challenge and raised the bar. Here is their pledge:
Because, as an Athena’s Path Girl, I understand that to be a good friend to others, I should first be a good friend to myself, I pledge…
To be personally kind by respecting myself.
To be positive to and about myself and others.
To not talk badly about myself because I am beautiful in my own way.
To protect myself from negative people and negative media.
To take care of myself physically and emotionally.
To be honest with myself while always treating myself fairly.
To be the creator of my own image.
And to not worry about what other people think.
Incredible, right? Today, I am committing to this powerful pledge and I hope you will, too. What important reminder did these wise girls offer you?