10 Awesome Women to Follow on Instagram

Before I get into my list, I want to say that my ENTIRE social media community is worthy of a loving shoutout (and a zillion fist-bump emojis!). The daily messages we create and share about empowerment, equality and inclusion would be nothing without an awesome community to exchange with.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share 13 of my favorite Instagram accounts owned and operated by women. These women create inspirational, educational, and empowering content that I could spend hours scrolling through (and do). If you don’t already know them, check them out and give them a follow.

  1. In the Insta-world of fitness models, we tend to see little size diversity. Enter @louisegreen_bigfitgirl who uses her platform to represent and showcase fit bodies of all sizes. She’s also got a great new book coming out that I (ahem, ahem) wrote the foreword for. No big deal. Get it now!!
  2. @usowomen…Obviously! The work that the United State of Women do everyday is shaping the culture that our next generation of girls will experience. The work we’ve done together (hello 2016 summit anyone??) will always be one of my most valued experiences. They have their work cut out for them in 2017, but look to them on great, tangible ways to join the #Resistance!
  3. This is my OG girl crush for all things empowerment: @amypoehlersmartgirls. Without a doubt, one of the best pages to turn to for global girl power and smart, cutting-edge leadership. Special squeezes to @puzzlesmom who leads this awesome parade!
  4. @euniquejg is my new girl crush. She’s the real deal, full of heart and fire, and has created a vital account with @becauseofthem. They had a beautiful Black History Month campaign (you can still go check it out) and their content is important to share with everyone (especially your kids!).
  5. @Amani speaks truth and power and her her Insta-platform for @muslimgirl is no different. She’s created the most popular digital platform for Muslim women and they have phenomenally talented writers who pen their perspectives on current news and experiences; a definite must-share for everyone!
  6. @laflowers has created the most incredible Latina blogger community of almost 20k strong over at @weallgrowlatina. You can count on them for funny, poignant, and powerful content – te adoro!
  7. My senator @kamalaharris has one of the best political Instagram accounts I’ve seen. Even after her campaign, she continues to be a trailblazer for change through the informative content she shares everyday. 2020 anyone?
  8. The girl crushes continue with @senduckworth. She frequently posts updates on what’s happening in government and is such a superstar bad ass that you will wish that a zillion more Tammy Duckworth’s were in government. (Psst… see #9 for help with this!)
  9. Since the election, over 6,000 women have enrolled in an incubator program to help them run for office. And who’s behind this incredible program? One of my favorite organizations @sheshouldrun. If you have ever thought about running for office or know someone who should, definitely check them out!
  10. Another one of my favorite nonprofits out there is @shesthefirst. They are literally changing the game for girls (and therefore the world) with their vision to help women around the globe become the 1st in their families to receive education.
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#YesWeCan Change The Way Media Portrays Women and Girls

My entire career as a social entrepreneur and advocate has been dedicated to widening the images we see of women and girls in the media. I’ve seen first hand how a young woman’s life can change when she feels reflected in the media or entertainment she consumes. It’s not trivial. In fact, it’s vital that we, the world’s largest exporter of media images, lead that business with full inclusivity and recognition of what the world truly looks like.

 

When President Obama took office he talked about opening up the White House to everyone.

I have always been inspired by the Obamas’ commitment to using their platform as a power for good. I am still in awe of the variety of artists, academics, humanitarians, engineers, and change makers they have invited in. I mean even the musical Hamilton was workshopped there! I feel incredibly grateful and proud to have been one of the voices they included. I worked with the White House Council on Women and Girls over the last eight years convening on and exploring the state of affairs for girls in tech, education, and media. Last April, we were able to bring together the forces I work with in my world to host one of the most comprehensive gatherings of industry, parent advocacy groups, and academic researchers focusing on gender stereotypes in toys and media.

 

The White House Council on Women and Girls, The Department of Education and USC’s “Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative” held a summit on how gender stereotypes impact our children’s ability to dream. The day’s agenda covered the influencing forces in boys’ and girls’ lives, the effects that gender stereotypes can have on their perceptions, and the steps people and businesses are taking to eradicate stereotypes. Our goal was to ensure that children can grow to reach their full potential in life, not stifled by norms or stereotypes that could inhibit their self-actualization. As someone who has spent 22 years studying and working in this field, that summit felt like a cumulating moment. I was so proud and humbled to see the key stakeholders, decision makers, and leaders in that space come together and engage in honest dialogue.

 

Before this administration, we were all having conversations in private or separate spheres, but in April we were all together sharing our research, thoughts, and brave steps forward. Major businesses, including Disney, Mattel, LEGO, and Warner Brothers, shared their compassion and understanding toward parents’ demands for better representation, and demonstrated how they are stepping up to the plate. Other up-and-coming companies, such as littleBits, showed us that there are still countless avenues for ingenuity in toys and media to help kids grow. Researchers and academics presented their latest findings on the challenges and opportunities in boys’ and girls’ lives as well as the importance of media so we could make informed decisions. Activists and parents brought their irreplaceable voices to the forefront sharing their experiences and the demand for more. All of these different perspectives are essential to spur future action. Most importantly, every group, regardless of differences, came to the table to have an open and authentic discussion in order to drive change.

 

Now, more than ever, we need camaraderie and openness to build a future path that will advance gender equality. No person or group can achieve such a lofty goal alone. Divisiveness will only hinder progress. This important meeting of both private and public sector stakeholders fueled a lot of change that we will be seeing in our retail spaces for years to come. Sharing information, finding allies, and building networks will help manifest positive change.

 

We all need to feel inspired by #YesWeCan moments that create positive momentum in our lives, instead of focusing on when we feel defeated. The summit has been a motivating force in my life because it was an agent of significant positive change.

 

#YesWeCan create media that is an inclusive representation of our multifaceted society.
This post was written by Jess Weiner and Elizabeth Hedge, who shared the badass experience of planning and executing the Summit on Gender Stereotypes in Toys and Media together in partnership with the White House Council of Women & Girls in Washington D.C.

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#BlogHer16 Closing Keynote Recap

It’s not often that we get to have honest, public discussions with a few hundred folks about intersectional feminism and activism. That’s exactly what we did at the closing keynote of the #BlogHer16 conference this past Saturday. I was honored to moderate this inspiring panel conversation about how people in the public eye can use their platform for activism. As well as about how we all can serve to be better allies to the causes that move us.

 

My long-term partners at Dove kicked off the panel sharing about their new campaign #MyBeautyMySay and it’s right on time for the Olympics! The media too often makes comments about female athletes and their appearance rather than focusing on their accomplishments. And have you read these headlines lately?? Now accomplished female athletes are being described by their husbands rather than their own achievements!

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So leave it to our panel of bad asses to break it all down! I was joined by the incredible: Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Matt McGorry, and professional boxer Heather “The Heat” Hardy. As actors and athletes in the public eye they are also fighting for social justice – whether it’s HIV/AIDS awareness, civil rights, racial and gender equality or equal pay. They are all utilizing their privilege and public platforms to speak out.

 

We dug into what makes a good ally – especially to causes where you are not the predominant demographic effected (think: how to be a good white ally for Black Lives Matter) and also how to fight injustice within your own field of business (think: how to challenge sexism and racism amongst your co-workers and bosses). Not easy subjects for sure. But this panel handled it with such clarity, grace, and courage. We could have gone on for hours more. So much work still left to do. But catch up on some of the highlights below.

 

And remember this is a conversation that is just in its beginning stages – we have to continue to work together and have the hard conversations because #ChangeIsAWeThing.

Panel Conversation Highlights:

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Too bad I didn’t enjoy myself.

BlogHer Team

The whole BlogHer team!

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Mom 2.0 Photo Recap

 

One of my favorite things about being Dove’s Global Self-Esteem Ambassador is the opportunity to reach different audiences with messages about confidence and the beauty of being you. Last week, I was at the Mom 2.0 Summit, which connects parent bloggers, content creators, and marketers around conversations that help shape how we see and think about today’s families.

 

The summit kicked off with an amazing conversation about the power of our words online with none other than the award-winning journalist (and my eternal #WCW) Soledad O’Brien.

 

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Soledad is such a genuine, open, and captivating person. We went from strangers (although I have to admit, I had a HUGE professional crush on her!) to chatting like old friends, taking selfies, and having her adjust the microphone on my bra strap!

 

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During the keynote address, Soledad and I discussed the power of words, parents’ roles in how their children create and consume social media, and Dove’s recently launched #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter that helps you identify the power of our online words and their impact.

 

With the rise of social media, everyone has the power and platform to share their stories and use their voices. It’s so important that we are intentional about the messages we send out and use those platforms to lift others up, rather than tearing one another down.

 

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Don’t think I won’t frame this!

 

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As if things couldn’t get any better – on day two – I hosted our famous Dove Self-Esteem workshops with the fabulous Hollis Heath, a fellow Dove Self-Esteem Educator who also works in New York City to help young people find their strength through education and creative arts.

 

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Our workshops also focused on the power of our words and how to rewrite our beauty story. We were joined by the amazing women from Mom 2.0, who not only participated in their own workshop, but then came back to mentor girls in another workshop.

 

I’m always moved by how open, brave, and willing participants are, and these women and girls were no exception. Seeing groups of passionate people engage with their journeys of self-discovery, regardless of where they may be on their paths, inspires me time and time again.

 

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We were joined by the Girl Scouts of Orange County who were so incredibly outspoken and creative in their answers about beauty and body image. Clearly these were girls who have been thinking about and talking about how to develop their confidence. Their answers would blow you away!

 

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We had everyone write their beauty story using just one sentence. And the catch? That sentence had to have just 6 words. Think of it as a mini-mini tweet. The girls were supposed to sum up the story they’d like to tell the world about their relationship and understanding to their own beauty and confidence. Here are just a few:

 

L: “Finding out that everyone is different.”

R: “Finding and expressing my inner creativity.”

 

I mean… 🙂

 

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Did a workshop really happen if we don’t take a picture??

Trick to getting a good smile – have everyone yell “1, 2, 3… Self-Esteem!!!”

 

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Mom 2.0 was an uplifting experience reminding me that, as long as we open ourselves up to seeing it, exploring it, and embracing it for what it is, #BeautyIs found in everyone around us.

 

If you want to learn more about the power of YOUR words and what you can do to leave a more positive digital footprint, check out Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter. It’s as easy as clicking “retweet” (literally).

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TBT: That Time We CHANGED BARBIE’S BODY

This last week has been epic.

 

Just seven little days ago I was finally able to share about a project I’ve been a part of for the last few years. I was on super secret lock down (which made vague-booking so hard!)

 

But finally all was revealed with this cover of TIME.

 

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As you know, I’ve been working for over 20 years to change the messages that women and girls are sent through media, toys, and advertising. And I feel so incredibly lucky to have partnered with Mattel and the Barbie team on this journey to more variety and inclusivity!

 

3 new bodies. 7 skin tones. 22 eye colors. 24 hair styles. So many more choices to play! 

 

So in the true spirit of a throwback, here’s a recap of what my launch day was like.

 

Our day started at 3 AM. And this was the sign that greeted us as we walked in. 

 

That and lots and lots of coffee.

 

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Then the TIME cover story breaks. In case you can’t tell from my expression, I couldn’t be more excited!

 

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Teamwork makes the dream work. I couldn’t have made it through this launch without these guys.

 

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We spent all day tracking the press, doing interviews and working with key influencers to make sure that the story of Barbie’s transformation was told in a way that would spark healthy dialogue (and debate). I mean, come on it’s Barbie. Everyone has an opinion!

 

Then it was on to the PARTY!!

 

We had an amazing launch party featuring Queen Latifah and Gwen Stefani – hosted by the lovely Amanda De Cadenet.

 

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The theme of the night was “Reshaping the Conversation” and I was so thrilled to do that with good friends. Special shout out to my dear friend Damone Roberts for always having my back. My new friend Rutina Wesley (Also starring in Ava DuVernay’s new show “Queen Sugar” on OWN- watch it!) and the funniest voice on the interwebs, Luvvie Ajayi.

 

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You can’t make change unless you have a seat at the table. And I had a seat at the table. Literally.

 

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Up for over 20 hours, exhausted, happy, feeling proud.

 

Then the next day the team at Barbie sent me this fabulous gift. Now a permanent fixture on my patio. Welcome to your new dream house!

 

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This week has reinforced for me what is truly possible when we work together to make change.

 

Whenever a girl can see herself and her world better reflected in culture it’s a good thing.

 

This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more…. #TheDollEvolves

 

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How To Stay Positive Online

Anytime we open our laptops we become susceptible to bad news. The Internet is littered with it.

 

You open your browser to check your go-to news source – where positivity is no doubt a rarity. You check your social media only to find “friends” who are doing all the things you wish you were doing, but aren’t. You see a pop up ad with women who look nothing like you, and you doubt yourself.

 

It’s overwhelming. How are we supposed to stay positive when we’re surrounded by so much negativity?

 

It IS possible. Here are a few sites I visit on a regular basis that help me stay informed and still be positive:

 

Hello Giggles – This site markets itself as a positive community for women, and it is just that. Here you’ll find newsworthy articles and lifestyle articles about women like you.

 

Brain Pickings – Maria Popova’s blog gives meaning and depth to topics of philosophy, science, design and art. I get lost in her inspiring and unique perspective.

 

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – A cultural community for women and girls that encourages activism, learning and volunteerism.

 

What sites bring you a positive lift?

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Resist the Urge to be Afraid

Resist the urge to be afraid. I know what you’re thinking – easier said than done. The media certainly doesn’t do a good job of putting our minds at ease.

 

With recent attacks in Paris, the refugee crisis in Syria, and persistent acts of terrorism, how can we not be afraid?

 

With marketers telling us we should feel a certain way, our televisions telling us we should look a certain way, and the constant pressure to compare ourselves to others, how can we not feel inadequate? No one can possibly feel secure when given impossible standards.

 

The odds seem stacked against us. The world wants us to feel afraid. So how do we resist?

 

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. You can choose to let the negativity inundate your life and consume your thoughts, or you can choose to focus on all the positives that don’t seem to be nearly as newsworthy.

 

We can’t control what goes on in the world outside ourselves, but we can control our thoughts and our interactions.

 

In light of the upcoming holiday season, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. I’ve been thinking about the people who are there for me and who matter most to me. I’ve been focusing on peace in the midst of chaos and soaking in the feeling of gratitude every chance I get.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been thinking about the love, energy and intention I emit back to the world, and I’m working on stepping up my game.

 

In a time when the world wants us to be afraid – Choose love. Choose bravery. Choose trust.

 

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Change One Thing

Each of us can probably rattle off a part of our appearance we wish was different. So it may not surprise us that the latest research from Dove reveals 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one thing about the way they look. Where this becomes problematic is that we know 60% of girls will stop doing something they love based on how they feel about the way they look. We can change this by shifting the way we speak, think, and act around the concept of beauty.

 

This is the foundation behind Dove’s latest campaign #ChangeOneThing. We’ve been conducting self-esteem workshops and helping women and girls think more critically about beauty stereotypes. I’ve spent the last month kicking off workshops from Minnesota to NYC, Cincinnati to Arkansas.

 

Our main message: It’s not girls who have to change, but our culture!

 

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At our NYC launch event, I’m joined by Franchesca Ramsey (host of MTV’s Decoded), Sarah Hammer (Dove Brand Manager), and Dr. Jen Hartstein to help lead an inspiring workshop for girls and their mentors.

 


Before the event, I was interviewed about how we can change our culture by changing the way we post and share on social media.

 

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Here I am leading the workshop! We also announced Dove’s partnership w/ Pinterest to reveal 80 new self-esteem pins designed for Moms, Mentors and Educators. Dove has reached over 17 million girls with self-esteem programming with workshops just like this.

 

attends Dove Self-Esteem Project Hosts 'Pinspiring' Workshop for Girls To Launch New Pinterest Self-Esteem Page on September 29, 2015 in New York City.

 

We had the girls and mentors make real-life Pinterest boards to share their positive messages with the world.

 

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attends Dove Self-Esteem Project Hosts 'Pinspiring' Workshop for Girls To Launch New Pinterest Self-Esteem Page on September 29, 2015 in New York City.

 

This wonderful girl standing next to me is 10-year-old Olivia Allen. She is the founder of the “I Can Be” Girls Confidence Conference – an event for girls and their parents to develop higher self-esteem. Can you imagine creating a conference like this when you were 10?

 

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The next day, I flew out to Cincinnati to film a news segment with Good Morning Cincinnati !

 

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Then we hosted two back-to-back workshops with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cincinnati.

 

Their wisdom and energy had me thinking about this:

 

We can help redefine what is beautiful by using our social media platforms to spread positivity and acceptance. Within our families, friends, classrooms, and communities, we’re constantly shaping the world by what we post online.

 

It could be one word or comment.
One image or video.

 

Being mindful about what we communicate is what creates opportunities to shift our culture in big and small ways.

 

We all have the power to #ChangeOneThing.

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The Confidence Myth

Let’s talk about how at some point, in everyone’s life –beauty fades.

 

At different ages, stages, and life cycles.

 

Because beauty isn’t a currency to take to the bank- character is.

 

My TEDx talk, The Confidence Myth, is out!

 

In it I explore the messy, honest and often overlooked truth about “getting” confidence.

 

Hint: It’s time to talk more openly about the process of self-discovery.

 

Watch it below (and please share, like and comment if you enjoy!)

 

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