Reconstructing Beauty: Empowering Our Girls for a Better Future
by LaToya Fernandez, Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep
Growing up in Hartford, Connecticut I learned the value of education early on. My mother was a workaholic providing for a family of seven and carried herself with strength and poise. Life at home was difficult at times, so I became immersed in school and extracurricular activities. Though involved in many organizations at school, I was still harassed for being African American, athletic, religious and just for being a girl. I was constantly teased about my hair. There were times in high school where I felt insecure about my physical appearance and capabilities. This motivated me to find my inner strength. I needed to become the Queen I was encouraging my friends to be.
The bias didn’t end when I graduated. In 2008 I was turned away from a major broadcasting network internship because I was told my hair was “too ethnic”. That’s when I knew there needed to be a place for women that promoted self-esteem and positive body image. It wasn’t until I started working at Rocketship that it clicked. When I noticed some of my female students lacked the confidence of their male peers, I worked with school leadership and founded QueenHype, the club I always wanted to join, the family many young girls needed and the source for facing discrimination and stereotypes head on with confidence and clarity.
The first meeting was difficult as the girls admitted to having friends that were abused, broken families and extremely low self esteem. Some expressed through tears they hated their hair, skin color, weight, height and the fact that they spoke Spanish. QueenHype won’t cure the source of their pain, but it’s the first step to breaking the cycle.
QueenHype is a movement designed to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle for young girls. Through interactive workshops and open dialogue, girls address both internal and external struggles in order to identify the root of these challenges and collectively formulate solutions that are healthy and productive. Alongside establishing a strong sense of self and purpose, young ladies naturally forge a sisterhood of positive encouragement and reinforcement throughout the program.
This unity creates a positive and effective community for even the youngest princess encountering detrimental insecurities. QueenHype also specializes in bringing awareness to global issues that impact young girls such as human trafficking, abuse and discrimination.
Focusing on the four integral pillars of self-confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem and positive body image, QueenHype serves as a platform for the female community to access resources and content that promotes self-love. Building upon inner strength transcends into the career world, educational pursuits and a progressive livelihood coinciding a no excuses mentality.
I believe that all women, despite differences, are Queens and can accomplish any and all of our goals while maintaining a positive self-image. We don’t reconstruct ourselves to be beautiful; we reconstruct the meaning of the term itself.
Queens put your crowns to the sky!
How is your community working to help girls find self-esteem? What helped you to find your voice as a young woman? ➟ @RocketshipEd
QueenHype welcomes collaboration with any network that encourages and provides a positive environment for development. Email Latoya for more information: email@example.com
Latoya started her career at Rocketship as a member of the support staff team. She transitioned to an enrichment coordinator then a Rocketship tutor (ILS) before becoming a fifth grade humanities teacher at Discovery Prep. QueenHype originally started as an online magazine after Latoya graduated from Newbury College in Boston where she studied Media writing and English.
Published on August 1, 2016