We often hear about how much our society needs strong and successful black male mentors for our young black boys, which is definitely true. However, we don’t hear about black, successful women reaching down and mentoring young black girls nearly as much. Although there’s frequent discourse about low self-esteem in young girls, and tons of tips and advice all over the Internet on how to overcome or “get rid of it,” but there’s a simple cure that black, successful women can provide.
The number of young girls with low self-esteem is staggering and downright depressing. According to the Examiner.com:
- One-third of all girls in grades nine to 12 think they are overweight, and 60 percent are trying to lose weight.
- Only 56 percent of seventh graders say they like the way they look
- Studies show that messages girls receive from the media can damage their feelings of self-worth and negatively affect their behavior. More than one in four girls surveyed in a 2009 survey feel the media pressures them to have a perfect body.
- Studies also show that girls who watch TV commercials featuring underweight models lose self-confidence and become more dissatisfied with their own bodies.
These statistics are only a snapshot of the problem and one can’t help but to then think about what this means for our young black girls who have a unique position within this epidemic. Not only are they bombarded with images of praised white women that don’t look like them in the media, they are also constantly scrolling down their Instagram timelines and seeing photos of glorified half-dressed video vixens who are praised for their beauty and unnatural proportioned bodies.
To couple that, they are disrespected in various ways through music and objectified as nothing but sex toys for black men. If we go even beyond that by looking at their parenting and household circumstances, the odds can be stacked up against the young black girl. On top of being insecure and dealing with low self-esteem about who they are, what they look like and what they’re worth, it’s increasingly difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. To put it frankly, this epidemic is killing them – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
However, there is a light at the end 0f the tunnel and the cure for this disease called low self-esteem lies right in the hands of successful black women in our communities. These women have similar stories as these young black girls and can truly relate to them. They have overcome the odds and the statistic trap. They are executives at top global companies, national activists, journalists, mothers, wives, and the backbone of their families. They’re beautiful, healthy, respectable and live amazing lives. But in order for us to see more women like this in our society, we have to nurture our young girls and not only be role models, but mentors as well.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t women out there who are already doing this. Last month, Yandy Smith and her company, Everything Girls Love, LLC hosted a private benefit dinner at Loft 29 in New York City to raise awareness and open up the conversation about this epidemic. Some of the city’s most powerful and influential women were in attendance, including Mona Scott-Young, Latoya Bond, owner of Bond Brand Management, and Tamika Mallory, a national activist that’s been one of the leading voices in police brutality against Blacks.
Smith also has a non-profit, EGL P.U.D. (Partners Uplifting our Daughters) that goes out to low-income communities to mentor the young girls. “The program is two fold, seeking to improve literacy and self esteem in adolescent girls. The women of EGL are seeking to ‘pay it forward’ by inspiring and empowering young women to pursue their goals and become leaders in their selected careers.”
Reginae Carter is also giving back by lending her voice and influence to a stop the bullying campaign.
But we need more. So black women, the next time you get a chance, reach back and pull a young girl in need up with you. It could be as simple as giving them a smile or hug, hanging out with them and going to get manis and pedis, or even just having good ole girl talk. You could truly change that girl’s life.
Written By: Chey Parker, Managing Editor for The Bobby Pen, Editor-in-chief of Everything Girls Love, LLC