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Well, when you think of women, when you think of girls, what comes to mind? Is it words or images? Are they positive or negative? Nothing? I always see like about three white girls laughing, looking into a camera lens. I’m pretty sure I saw it on tumblr and immediately came to equate that picture-perfect moment with girls. But that’s all it was: a moment. The rest of our lives get pretty insane, depending on who you ask.
When I was in high school (you know… way back when), I made a few, consecutively poor choices. It terminated or put a strain on several of my female friendships. It was easy then to just brush it off and say “whatever”: I didn’t need them anyway. In my 16-year-old mind it was time to shed the old and embrace the new. I became independent. Explored different places alone. Tried new things alone. Went to the ladies’ room alone (evolutionary, I know). It was good for me, at the time.
Naturally, I attended a women’s college, where I slowly developed a fondness for their companionship. Perhaps it was all the different backgrounds sharing their situations and opening my eyes to something beyond Atlanta. They’d all ventured here to study, but through their stories I was leaving the South and going to México, Ethiopia, Brazil. I found myself in someone else’s shoes in a Tennessee talent show playing an electric guitar while the competition was majority young men in boots, hoping for that chance to win against the odds. Based on that vacant look in my peer’s eyes as she told that story, we knew that the odds had won.
I began She Didn’t Tell Me… because as I’m navigating through the tides of life, I’m realizing that there’s so much my mother or my older sisters simply didn’t tell me, we never discussed, or never even acknowledged. Albeit, I don’t have strong relationships or connections with them, but perhaps that’s the first issue. It would have been so helpful or at least cut the amount of time spent feeling lonely and confused in half!
One day, I was riding the train, and I suddenly found myself thinking “I want my daughter(s) to be prepared for instead of blindsided by society.” I began jotting down little notes in my phone of different subjects or tag lines to kind of aid them in their times of despair in their young lives. Something a little less cliche and a little more believable than “the grass is greener on the other side” or “everyone has troubles.” Something particular to their lives as firstly, humans, secondly, women and thirdly, women of color. We can all identify with at least one of those groups.
Girls need girls, because we are most sympathetic from our experiences. Because no one can understand a woman better than another woman. Ranging from the irritation of cat calls to the pesky UTIs to the late night round of do-I-really-want-to-be-a-mother-or-have-I-been-conditioned-to-think-that’s-what-I-want. This is by no means to say that men are useless or unnecessary. But we do bear life differently. I mean really, who’s more likely to have an extra tampon when Aunt Flo comes to town a little early? Exactly.
We help to build each other up. For centuries, women have been pitted against each other and made to compete for attention, power, even love. But when we stop fighting each other, we can further the generation of body positivity. We can further self awareness. We can stop calling our vulvas “vaginas." Take power away from the slurs with which that elusive “they” try to label us.