Girls on the Run- The Yellow Balloon that Broke my Heart

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There is a program called Girls on the Run. I wish I would have known about this organization sooner, but I suppose it came to me in perfect timing.

I am a new coach in the program. We have practice twice a week and do different activities each time to teach the girls about choices, emotions, confidence, community service, friendship, kindness, strength, etc.

This picture was at the end of our practice today. At the end of each meet, the girls get to nominate two people for an energy award, and the coaches pick a “pop up girl” that represented what being a Girl on the Run is all about throughout the practice. Coach MJ and I added that the three chosen also get a picture with one, or both of us at the end of practice. Anyone who knows me or follows me on Facebook knows whose idea that was!

Girls on the Run

This picture below was taken at today’s practice while they ran, walked, or hopped laps around the field. They set a goal of how many laps they are going to do each time and we keep track. Some girls choose a number, some choose to do better than they did last time, and some choose to do the best they can do.

No matter what… the girls move forward!

Girls on the Run

Girls and the “yellow balloon”…

Today at practice we discussed negative self talk. We asked the girls to write two examples of negative self talk they have said to themselves or they have heard others say. When they ran, they had to think of a way to turn the negative into a positive, and put the sticker on the balloon before their next lap. At the end, we popped the balloon and all agreed to STOP the negative self talk.

When I was preparing for this lesson I thought it was great. However, it wasn’t until I was standing there with that little yellow balloon staring me in the face that it really hit me.

Take a look at what some of the girls wrote before we move on…

Girls on the run

“I’m too fat”…

“I am scinny (skinny)”…

“Im not smart”

Girls on the run

“I am ugly”…

“I am to fat”…

“Im to boney”

Girls on the Run

“I need a math toder (tutor)”…

“Im so fat”…

“I am not cool”

 

I struggled through my entire childhood and a good portion of my 20’s with body image, self worth, and confidence. I fought against my natural passions because it wasn’t what everyone else was doing. I’ve been seeing a lot of campaigns speaking out against having one particular body type being the standard. I like it. I believe that each girl should celebrate her unique qualities and do her best to live a healthy, happy life. But, this goes deeper than just the body, and the problem is more than just how these girls feel they look on the outside.

Why am I heart broken?

  1. Hopefully the Girls on the Run program will make a difference in these girls. Hopefully they can start to appreciate who they are from a young age. Sadly, many girls won’t. Some will struggle through child hood, some will be like me and struggle into their young adult life. Others will struggle their entire lives, feeling like they aren’t pretty enough, they aren’t good enough, and they aren’t worthy of the life they want. I’ve been through the struggle and it’s an ugly, bad place to be. It’s breaks my heart that so many girls will go through the same struggle.
  2. I’m heart broken because these girls didn’t just make these comments up. These negative comments were placed in their minds by their moms, their friends, their dads, the books they are reading, and the movies they are watching.

Hey mom’s… when you call yourself fat, your daughters think it’s normal to be critical of their bodies. When you talk negatively about people, especially your friends, your daughters think it’s normal. When you are rude, short tempered, and mean, your daughters think that’s how they should be. It doesn’t matter if you tell them not to. They follow what they see more than what you say. On that same note, when you slip up. When you make a mistake and you display those actions, they see how you handle it. Are you prideful and try to justify your actions? Or do you admit you were wrong and apologize? Moms, you are shaping your girls. It starts with you.

You can’t control their environments all the time, but you can provide the foundation.

 

Dad’s… this whole negative self talk thing is a tough one for a lot of men to understand. But hear me out. Girls who are not confident, who are afraid to stand up for themselves or for other people, who think they are ugly, and who don’t know their worth may end up doing or falling victim to some horrific things. Maybe one day I’ll share more details, but I will fully admit that when I was a young girl, lacking confidence, I went to great lengths to gain acceptance. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think about situations I was in where I didn’t take a stand because I wanted to be accepted. I didn’t stick up for myself. I didn’t stick up for others. In fact, I had such a low confidence that I tried to kill myself. As a teenager, I hated myself so much, that I wanted to take my own life. This is horrifying. I’m so thankful that it didn’t work because I have lived an amazing, wonderful life. If I knew a fraction of what I know now- I would have valued my life, my abilities, and my body more.

You make a difference dads. You set the standard by showing them how men should treat women – through how you treat the women in your life and by how you treat her. You show them their worth.

 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we need to make our girls feel like they are perfect. I’m saying we need to make them understand that they are human. They are going to hear things they shouldn’t repeat- but they need to be able to identify why. They are going to be in situations where they need to stand up for themselves or for other people. They are going to have words spoken to them that are hurtful. They are going to lose their tempers. They are going to say things they regret. They are going to get a zit, they may be slower than someone, they might not be a math wiz. Our girls need to know that who they are is awesome. That they should strive to be positive towards themselves and others. That they should take care of themselves and find the beauty in all the wonderful aspects of them – their hearts, their brains, their actions, and in their bodies. They need to know that it’s good to celebrate and embrace differences.

This long blog, is a call to action – for everyone. Not just the mom’s and dad’s. Pay attention to how you treat people. Pay attention to how you treat yourself. Listen to the words you speak. Listen to the words you tell yourself. We are shaping and influencing everything these young girls (and boys) do.

The change has to start with us.

 

Cheers to you – Super Mom!

2 thoughts on “Girls on the Run- The Yellow Balloon that Broke my Heart”

  1. Very well written Jess. It is an unfortunate truth that young girls do not often hear their worth, or the praise that they need and deserve. Now having two young girls; I hope to spare them or better prepare them for the pain that can come from adolescence, at the least the things that they may have told themselves. I am proud to have a daughter that is outspoken, creative, and not afraid to go against the norm. Best of luck to you with your baby, I am sure you will help guide her into a wonderful woman.

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