ASU students are attempting to tackle negative stereotypes rooted in a woman's physical, emotional and mental self-worth through the I Am That Girl organization, which reminds women to replace self-doubt with self-love.
Many girls tell themselves, “Don’t eat that; you’ll get fat,” at such a young age that by 10, 80 percent of girls have dieted, according to Common Sense Media. A StrategyOne firm found that out of the 3,200 women aged 18 to 64 surveyed, only 2 percent of women considered themselves beautiful.
I Am That Girl national founder Alexis Jones started the nonprofit organization in 2012, calling it a “badass 21st-century version of the Girl Scouts," after finishing a tour as an empowerment speaker and wanting to engage with women more. Since its establishment, Jones has called upon the help of female artists, leaders and entrepreneurs as a call to action to turn women’s self-doubt into self-love.
Journalism sophomores Amanda Luberto and Tamsyn Stonebarger found the call to action last August, when Stonebarger called Luberto after reading the “I Am That Girl” book and said the movement could expand at ASU.
“We wanted to encourage it as a human’s movement, not just a woman’s movement,” Luberto said. “Both genders have pressures, some similar and some different, but it's still there.”
Luberto and Stonebarger moved quickly to hosting conferences at surrounding schools like NAU, and meetings at ASU every Tuesday on either the Tempe or Downtown campus.
“We needed to have these important conversations now,” Stonebarger said. “And it only moved us more when we saw the impact we were making on these women.”
Luberto and Stonebarger bring the same fervent energy to the meetings by starting each week with the exercise “I’m a badass this week because…” This activity allows members to look at success they have had in the last seven days and receive recognition for it.
An open discussion sharing the issues and conflicts the members endure follows. These exercises create a sense of bonding that for many members, like journalism freshman Monica Sampson, deepens their inspiration for the people around them that expands past the meetings.
“It gives me the courage to stand together, and care even more about the people around me,” Sampson said. “Having a level of empathy to understand every person does have their own struggles.”
After gathering enough momentum, IATG hosted the “Love Yourself” ASU event in February. Part of the event had members place hundreds of post-it notes throughout the Downtown campus with positive messages like “There is Nothing In The World You Can’t Achieve.”
“It’s so great to know, while you’re walking through campus and seeing these groups of women, and know you’re encouraging them in their lives,” Stonebarger said. “Finding these women who never got told they could and after our meetings, after these notes, they’re finding the confidence to start better lives for themselves.”
The I Am That Girl journey still has a challenging road, and Luberto and Stonebarger know one day they will have to graduate. When asked how they would like to leave the things, they found inspiration and hope in the future.
“We want to change how Sun Devil woman feel about themselves and how people feel about Sun Devil women,” Luberto said.
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