I had the opportunity to be a Featured Speaker at the GenAustin “We Are Girls” conference. I gave my keynote talk “The World is Messed Up, But You Are Fine.” It was an amazing, powerful, and humbling experience that I want to tell you about.
The conference is “a statewide annual event that helps girls explore the issues of bullying, body image, and being a girl.” I’ve long been a fan of GenAustin and did some work with them when I still lived in Austin so I was absolutely thrilled to be involved in the event.
As I walked into Austin High I saw signs that instantly told me that this was my kind of conference:
As I walked into the gym for the opening rally (at which I was going to be giving a quick preview of the talk I would give later that day,) I was met by an enthusiastic crowd of cheering girls and their parents who were filing in.
That’s when I started getting nervous. The conference had over 1,700 registrants and you could feel the power in the room – the power that these girls have to make change, to reject a culture of body hate and shame, and demand that industries stop trying to, as my friend CJ Legare puts it, steal their self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to them at a profit. I knew that I had a chance to really make a difference and I did not want to miss that chance.
By the time I was done with the people who came down to the stage to talk to me, ask questions, take selfies, and get autographs I only had a couple of minutes to finish lunch. So I sat on the edge of the stage to eat my lunch and chat with the GenAustin staff. At some point I realized that the room was filling up and that more than a hundred people were now just watching me eat. And I didn’t feel self-conscious at all.
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