A special thank you to our 2019 Grant Partner Love Girls Magazine and Teresa Baber for writing this guest blog and telling us about their work. To learn more about this organization, visit their website at www.lovegirlsmagazine.com
I have two daughters. When my oldest was a senior in high school, she applied for many scholarships. Most applications required an essay. Kayla worked hard to craft her story and when it was completed, she left it on the kitchen table for me to read. She wrote about the hardships young women face, the pressure to fit in, to be beautiful; smart, perfect. She wrote, “One day when I complete college I want to return to this community and start an organization to help build self-esteem in girls.” I was moved. I shared the essay with her sister, Jasmine, who was a freshman in high school at the time. When she finished reading, she said thoughtfully, “Why do we have to wait?” She was inspired, and that moment became her call to action. Love Girls Magazine was born. That was eight years ago. Recently, Jasmine traveled to London to share the power of storytelling with youth from around the world.
When girls hear the stories of young women who look like them, who they can relate to, it’s powerful. They are inspired to change their lives and their communities. Love Girls Magazine supports their ideas and introduces girls to leaders who can provide mentorship. It is a call for girls in Iowa (and beyond) to Lead, Overcome, Value and Empower. Over the years, the magazine has provided young women a platform to start their own community outreach programs, lead voter registration drives, clothing, food, and book drives, collect hygiene supplies for schools, collect toys for children in low-income communities and raise money to provide scholarships for graduating seniors.
With the support of the Iowa Women’s Foundation, the organization has become more than a publication. Love Girls Magazine offers two programs annually, “Girls on Fire” a free storytelling and empowerment conference and, “The Love Awards”, a community celebration to honor young women for their accomplishments. And new this year is, “Love Girls, The Podcast”.
We do not dislike boys; we simply understand that life for girls is different and often harder. The consequences are low self-esteem and depression at higher rates than boys. Young women are also more likely to be judged for their physical appearance, earn less money, parent alone, and be the victims of violent crimes. But the good news is, when you invest in girls, they are more likely to make the world a better place. LOVE stands for lead, overcome, value and empower. We use LOVE to condition young women to be powerful advocates, spokeswomen, and organizers.