The moment I took off my dress in the Capital City Public Market and blindfolded myself in a black bikini people walked straight up to me and said "ME TOO." The same message came flooding into my inbox and on the street corner and from major news outlets and on celebrity Twitter accounts and 200+ million video views and still. Still they come. From all genders and countries and ages and abilities and colors.
And they come from young girls and their moms. Their voices are loud and scared and angry and strong and rebellious. They're ready. And I'm ready to help.
Since announcing Radcamp : A Body Positive Boot Camp For Feminist Teens in February I've gotten so many "thank you"s and "we've been waiting for this"s. And so many generous women who want to help change the narrative for our future generation of leaders. Financial donations from a handful of amazing women around the country allowed me to offer so many full scholarships for girls in need, buy amazing art supplies and snacks, and give the girls two feminist books to add to their bookshelves at home.
Researchers and doctors and parents all have found that it's during our early teenage years and puberty that ideas about our bodies can be really solidified. It's a crucial time of change and growth and discovery about who we are. It's also a time when beliefs are formed and ideas are fluid and anything is possible. I've had the honor to speak to lots of young people about being an activist in your own life in big and small ways and how to stand up for what's important - including yourself. It's something I teach all three of my children at home and a message I'm honored and thrilled to share with others. What a treat it was to have lead a crew of young girls aged 13-15 in Boise who spent an entire weekend together in a park and left a little closer to finding their voices and taking ownership of their bodies in a whole new way.
RADCAMP: A Body Positive Boot Camp For Feminist Teens Day 1 was extraordinary. We ate, laughed, learned about cultivating healthy relationships with food, dug deep, thought hard, watched some amazing women poets and read some amazing women writers, planted seeds, made art (including craftivista Kim Werker's Mighty Ugly dolls while examining notions of beauty, being pretty, and perfectionism) and generally became a little more radical and in tune to our unique bodies, voices and spirits.
(And wrapped it all up with our annual backyard beginning of summer movie night watching Penelope - one of the greatest feminist teen body positive movies of all time.)
I was so excited to be able to give all 11 girls at RADCAMP : A Body Positive Boot Camp For Feminist Teens this brand new book, Here We Are edited by Kelly Jensen, to keep this weekend. They actually get to add TWO badass books to their library as a result of some amazing donations from some stellar women (the other is a body image workbook for teens) and I hope they pick them back up over and over in their lifetime.
Here We Are just came out and features 44 writers, dancers, actors and artists contributing essays, lists, poems, comics and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. It's beginning feminism 101 and it's perfect for the young adult. (The editor was so thrilled about her book being used this way she generously donated 10 copies for all the women attending my RADCAMP for women in McCall in July!)
RADCAMP: A Body Positive Boot Camp For Feminist Teens Day 2 was just as epic as the first and filled with radical goodness, including a lunchtime chat with some pretty amazing young women on how to raise your voice high and be proudly feminist in the face of adversity with Nora & Colette of People for Unity, making tee shirts inspired by punk rock & the Riot Grrrls, dissecting popular media, photoshop and consumer culture in a magazine project, and taking on Betsy Greer's You Are So Very Beautiful (#yasvb) craftivism project by stitching tiny positive affirmations and hiding them around the city in the name of guerrilla acts of kindness. Each girl went home with so many amazing powerful tools, including some body positive stickers from My Body Does, sun-kissed shoulders from our end of camp pool party and a lot of new information rattling around in their hearts and brains.
Organizing both my RADCAMPs this year (the adult sleepaway camp coming up in July and the teen one) has connected me with some amazing women working in radical body positivity and feminism all over the country. Including My Body Does in Brooklyn, who created a handful of affirming stickers to slap on your school binder, bathroom mirror, street lamppost or any body shaming billboard that might need some uplifting 😉.
Turns out they're big fans of what I do, too, and generously offered to mail me a big fat envelope of stickers to give the teens this past weekend and some for me and the women at RADCAMP, too.
It was also a treat to have two teenage powerhouses, Nora Harren and Colette Raptosh, come speak to RADCAMPers about how to raise your voice high and be proudly feminist in high school hallways that aren't always so welcoming. Together they run People for Unity and organized the Women's March on Idaho in January. Thanks to generous donations by a few of you to my program, I was able to put some money towards their organization in the form of a small speaking stipend. I think it was super powerful for the girls at camp to hear from some other young role models in Boise using their spirits and passion for change and good. Here's to women supporting women supporting girls supporting girls. And here's to a bearing witness to a new generation of resilient and strong girls. May we all be the role models they need.