‘She’s divine, she’s magic. And she didn’t have to wait on anyone to tell her in order for her to believe that about herself. And that’s what made her so magically beautiful.’
– C.R Bittar
Women, the bravest creatures I know. We face adversity head on. We fiercely protect the people we love, we fight past exhaustion, and we let our tears flow just as abundantly as we let our laughter roar. We are soft yet powerful all in one breath. We are goddesses.
Hi, I’m Claire. I am an intern for SERENE and I’m also a breast cancer survivor.
I have been giving talks at a school for the breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel! My sessions were with groups of 14 year-old young women. At the impressionable age of 14, you’re still so young and innocent, yet you are becoming a young woman – your body is changing and it’s terrifying.
This was quite an eye-opening experience for me. When I was 14, my main focus was on my dance training and school work all whilst trying to figure out what was happening to my body. My world was fairly small; I had my family, my friends, my teachers, and a boyfriend I barely had the guts to even speak to, but that was my wonderful 14 year-old world. Although I was taking steps into womanhood, I was still relatively naive.
How does this compare to life as a 14 year-old now? In 2016, social media offers the luring appeal of fame and fortune while reality TV creates stars. There’s also the fact that facial and body augmentation has become a highly accepted part of our consciousness.
What I witnessed, in those classrooms, was a very fragile place. A beautiful group of young souls trying hard to recreate what they see on social media, on TV, in magazines, and on the internet. While we cannot control what young people are exposed to on Instagram and Facebook, I believe we have a moral responsibility to instill a sound belief system for these young ladies as early as possible.
The basis of my work for Coppafeel! is educating women – young to old – encouraging them to check their breasts. It’s a simple mission, but early diagnosis saves lives. We aim to inform young women about regular check-ups as well as educating them about the disease so it no longer becomes the dreaded ‘C’ word people are too scared to discuss.
I decided to include education about self-love. As I had the opportunity to hold court with the next generation, I wanted to walk out of that building confident I planted a seed in those young impressionable minds, and that seed being a crazy little thing called self-love.
So I simply told them this: “just as you need to learn about your bodies you also need to respect and love them too.” You would have thought I had just told a room full of four year-olds that Santa does not exist, judging by the confounded expressions on their faces.
Here I am talking about cancer and this is the part that shocks them the most! Isn’t it heartbreaking?
This is the reality of the situation: these girls are so young, yet are already showing an intense dislike for themselves by breeding negativity and judging themselves. They compare themselves to unrealistic standards and are setting themselves up for years of internal abuse. At that age there are so many changes naturally happening, one day you love those changes but most days you don’t and sometimes you don’t even fully comprehend what is going on.
But we are those goddesses I spoke of earlier, so why aren’t these girls embracing those natural changes and celebrating them? It’s not shameful to get your period or to start developing breasts just like there should be no shame in developing at a different pace, whether it’s slower or faster – whatever it may be these young souls should be willing to accept these bodily changes
Why aren’t they?
What can be done to encourage the future generation of women to not only be proud of who they are, and who they are becoming, but also never question their self-worth?
Could you imagine a generation of girls that could grow up loving and accepting themselves? There would be an army of women – a force to be reckoned with – supported by a self-loving and self-accepting feminine revolution.
I’m not here to tell anyone how to raise their child or teachers how to teach, I would just like to expand the conversation and raise awareness.
The children of 2016 are much more impressionable than we were as children. I feel like the children of today need protecting more than ever. As I sit here aged 33, thinking of having a family of my own, I work towards having the tools to raise my daughter to be the goddess she naturally will be and to love herself as she is.
As a future mother, I hope wellness of the mind and body are incorporated into school curriculums. Fortunately we are living in times when the wellness community does not have to prove its value. It’s the right time for the youth to learn about loving themselves. By introducing wellness practices, such as mindfulness, into the school system we can begin nurturing this way of life for years to come. Similarly, nutritional lessons offer enormous value in teaching young people how to nourish the body through better decisions. These holistic approaches offer enormous support as young people develop a self-care practice.
We can all agree this could be something very powerful for the next generation of leaders.
“Honour that girl inside you. Remember who you were before you cared for what you looked like. Before you knew the sting of rejection. Before you were told that you couldn’t, or that you weren’t or that you hadn’t. You are still that girl - before the roles, the labels, the pains, that girl lives on. She is the goddess within you.“
– Tender to my Soul by S.C Lourie
Contributor & Intern, SERENE
Claire Meehan originally trained and worked as a professional ballerina, before injury forced her to change direction. Her first job in the commercial industry was performing with Kylie Minogue and Justin Timberlake at the MTV European Music Awards and she never looked back.
With a career spanning over a decade Claire has worked with some of the biggest artists of our time.
In addition, Claire attended London College of Fashion and has worked on various projects within the fashion industry including working closely with Australian designers Sass & Bide at London Fashion Week and assisting Kylie’s creative designer and stylist William Baker.