By Chloe Bazlen ‘18
This year, the Scripps community has its very own chapter of I Am That Girl, a worldwide movement that is meant to inspire young women to love, express and be who they are. I Am That Girl is an organization based in Santa Monica, Calif. that extends its reaches through the use of local chapters, such as the one now at Scripps.
Laurel Schwartz ’15 is the Chapter Leader of I Am That Girl: Scripps College. As a Chapter Leader, Schwartz runs and organizes the meetings and events for the group. Before starting this chapter, she trained with the national organization, learning many tips and techniques on how to run I Am That Girl. Although the organization does give examples of activities to do, Schwartz and her team mainly think of the events on their own.
One way that Schwartz has given the Scripps chapter a unique twist is by emphasizing how women are portrayed in the media — she “strives to create and promote healthy, participatory media projects” here on campus. Every day women are faced with thousands of messages from the media telling them that they aren’t good enough; “I think that a huge part of empowering women is through changing the media,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz realized that Scripps was the perfect place for I Am That Girl — she notes that “Scripps students are very inquisitive, engaged and smart.” This means that Scripps students are open to meaningful conversation, although more often than not this is related to schoolwork. “I hope that I Am That Girl can serve as a space for meaningful conversations to happen” that relate to issues other than school, she said.
Recently, the group hosted their first big event of the year — a pop-up video booth where people named and complimented someone that was “that girl” in their life. “I wanted to do a project that wasn’t just about the Scripps community, but instead was made by the community,” Schwartz said. The idea of complimenting someone on camera was an interactive way to have positive media coverage of Scripps women. “Complimenting someone is something that is so important, yet so easy to forget to do in everyday life.
The video project turned out to be a huge success — within four days they had over 750 views on YouTube, and I Am That Girl National reposted it on their own YouTube Channel. “The most rewarding part was hearing about people watching the video who didn’t know they were getting a shout out and them being moved to tears,” Schwartz said. Due to the project’s success, keep your eyes open around Valentine’s Day for a similar project.
I Am That Girl: Scripps College does much more in our community beyond the video booth. Recently they viewed Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk and attended her speech as a group, and several members volunteered at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media. They have also invested in creating a tight-knit community of not just current students, but also graduates. “We will be facilitating some discussions with alumnae about transitioning to the working world,” Schwartz said.
They will also be screening a pilot episode of a TV show and discussing gender representation in the episode.
Since the Scripps chapter is one of many local chapters, there are hopes to meet up with another college’s chapter at some point during the year. “The idea of being part of a national organization rather than creating a new club on campus is that the national organization connects us to a network of women who are dedicated to supporting each other,” Schwartz said, showing the benefits of joining something that is larger than simply our college.
If you are interested in joining an organization designed to empower women, contact Schwartz for more information. They host weekly meetings at 12 p.m. on Fridays in the Student Union. Keep a lookout for the next time this group gets together to try to create a healthy media.