I recently took a week to go visit my parents in California. It was a much-needed break from the day to day, and had been about 4 years since getting out of my working environment. I hadn't seen my parents in quite awhile, so, of course, they touted me around to friends and family to show that they did indeed have a daughter. I did the obligatory hellos and catch-ups, but one thing kept happening over and over that simply astounded me.
As parents always do, mine had filled people in on what I was doing and my career choice of closing my retail store to focus 100% of my time on iBbeautiful and the company's goal to help empower young girls. But what was so surprising to me was that each and every person that we visited would, at some point, pull me to the side to share with me a story about a granddaughter, niece, daughter of a friend, etc that was going through an extremely hard time.
The last 2 years have gone by very quickly, and has been much more all-consuming than I expected when iBbeatiful first started. The positive reception we have received right from the start, and the rapid growth of the company has pretty much kept me with my nose to the grindstone non-stop. So, on this vacation, of sorts, where I thought I would be taking a break from iBbeautiful, instead I found myself repeatedly commiserating with people about their concern for a young girl in their life. Each story was eerily similar...a young teen or tween who had been bullied and had now shut down, someone who was visibly losing confidence in herself, those that felt like they didn't fit in, or some who simply just seemed lost.
Everyone spoke about their love and concern for these young girls in their lives and wanted to talk to me about iBbeautiful and if it could help.
My use of the word "astounded" above may seem like a big word that is slightly embellishing this story, but it was true. Every person had the same type of story to tell me. Never had I felt the message of iBbeatiful to be so important, and the mission that we set out on, so vital for what is going on with young girls today.
I could write forever about all the challenges girls face in this day and age, the factors that make their lives so much harder to navigate than when we grew up. Yes, all of us remember the awkward and difficult times in school, but that pales in comparison to the pressures of the current times. Social media alone is responsible for so much. It was one thing, in our time; to not be invited to an event, sleep over, etc. But in today's world if your the one that didn't get the invite you have to witness a constant minute by minute stream of Snap Chat, Facebook, and Instagram images of the event that you were excluded from. Even as adults this would be a bit of torture and would certainly chip away at our self-confidence. How can a girl who is 8 to 14 years old have the sophistication to deal with this without it creeping into her way of looking at herself? Then, of course, you dump in all the flawless magazine shots, advertisements, movies and TV shows where everyone is perfect. It really is just too overwhelming for this age group, and the worst part is that this is exactly the age where they shut the people they need most, their parents, right out. Comments like, "You don't know anything" or, "you have no idea what's going on" are all we get when we try to intervene and help. Truly frustrating as a parent.
So, what is my point in writing this? I just had to express how big this issue of eroding confidence is with teens and tweens. Of course, this isn't news, but just confirmation for my team and me that the foundation iBbeautiful was founded on is important, necessary, and oh so vital. I returned from my vacation with a renewed commitment to expanding our reach and finding more ways to get our monthly messages of empowerment and inspiration to as many girls as possible.
We have come to realize that some of the girls that need this type of message the most do not have families that are in a financial position to subscribe to our boxes, so we are going to address that. Starting this month we are instituting a program called BAND OF GIRLS where we will sponsor a few girls each month, sending them our boxes for free and keeping in touch with them throughout the month(s) to let them know that they are loved, their situation is most likely shared by others, they are not alone, and that we and others love them. We already have quite a few girls that we will immediately be adding to this program, but we'd love to hear from you if you know of a young girl that is in a bad situation and could really benefit from a monthly dose of confidence and the knowledge that there are others out there who care. Please email us with any candidates at email@example.com.
We hope to involve our entire community of iBbeautiful girls in this effort by having all of you reach out as well with cards and letters of support that will be funneled into what is sent to these girls in need. Any girl chosen to be sponsored within our BAND OF GIRLS will be kept anonymous to help them to feel safe within their issues, our only goal here is to flood them with love and support that will come from you, our community, and iBbeautiful. We will give more details as this program starts to unfold; we ask that you follow us on our Facebook page so that you can respond when we ask for your support.
This is important work and we truly hope that you will join us in our efforts.
All The Love + Happiness in the World,