Name: Japera Benson
Type of Project: Leadership
My project entailed self-empowering young girls to help build their self-esteem and self-awareness through media literacy. I did this though activities, Q&A discussions and lecture materials.
This experience helped me better understand myself and the biases that I have against myself and other females based on the social constructs of society. I met a lot of girls that, upon meeting me, shocked me with their views of themselves. I had some girls that needed to be pushed to find one thing that they liked about themselves while others thought they were the most beautiful person. I learned that every girl goes through a different experience and a lot of the contributing factors of our self-esteem is not only from boys or men, but from women, often those that we call friends. It has helped me analyze the relationships that I have in my life and how they have affected my self-esteem in ways that I was not aware of. I learned that as young women, once given the tools they are capable of analyzing their life and social constructs and what it means to them.
During my step program, there were various points that were influential to my transformation and understanding of self. I took upon a leadership role, that allowed me to give back and to understand those different and similar to me. In one exercise that we did, we discussed media literacy and looking the views that are placed among women with the sexualization of women and the lack of women of color viewed as beautiful but instead as objects. During this time the girls were able to relate the imagery to what they see in their everyday lives through magazines, TV, music videos, etc. They were able to connect the way that the videos were perceived and how it could affect their everyday life in the way that boys (and girls) may treat them.
When doing, our reflections activity the young women had to write the things the things they didn’t like about themselves, physically, emotionally, or mentally. Once the girls wrote these things, we then smashed the mirrors symbolizing our end to seeing the negatives in ourselves. We then wrote down a minimum of 5 things that we liked about ourselves. Some girls came up with 10, most came up with 5, but there was one girl who struggled to come up with anything and this broke my heart and reinforced that I need to go into education to be able to build personal relationships with people, so that I can help them see the good within themselves.
In one of our last exercises, I asked the girls to get in groups and to put together a creative expression showing what they had learned. Some did skits, some danced, some did artwork, some did poetry. It was amazing to see them understand and can retain the content and to translate it into a form of expression. It just showed me that I can lead and create change through education and this had helped me define my career goals and who I want to be as a citizen and a contributor to society.
It has helped me affirm that I want to go into education to continue to uplift girls (and boys) that need an advocate and someone to empower them and let them know that they are loved and appreciated. I want to continue to this work in educating girls and boys within the school system as this will help me uplift them and encourage them to continue learning as it will affect their self-esteem and give them the necessary tools to be successful in life.