How to Dress Your Best: Self-Confidence and its Role in Healthy Relationships

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GirlUp.org

The Girl Up Foundation is aimed at “advancing girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to be leaders.” Their slogan: “When girls rise, we all rise.”

Confidence is the best accessory you can wear. But how do we find it? This is the question explored by Isabella Zeitlin ‘22, president of the Girl Up Club, during a Middle School Workshop in January of 2021. The Girl Up Foundation was created to provide opportunities for girls to advocate for equal rights, with the OHS chapter “[focusing] on advocating against gender violence and for gender equality, educational opportunities, and equality in sports,” said Zeitlin. 

In the summer of 2020, Zeitlin discussed gender-based issues with her friends. “I was inspired by the thought-provoking conversations we were having on a wide range of gender-based issues, from the stigma held against stay-at-home dads to how LGBTQ+ issues intersect with racism and sexism,” Zeitlin said. 

Along with Vice President Amelia Zai ’23, she established a chapter of the Girl Up foundation at OHS “to create a safe space for students to engage in respectful conversations on a whole host of topics.” 

Since then, they have hosted multiple self-reflection workshops and sessions focusing on sexual education as well as other social events such as movie nights. Zeitlin says she loves hosting “sexual health education workshops in collaboration with multiple clubs, the GSA and the Mental Health Awareness Club to name just two, to help provide students with information on modes of contraception, setting proper boundaries in relationships, and debunking myths pertaining to LGBTQ+ relationships.”

Teaming up with Rebecca Shields, Director of the Writing and Tutoring Center, the Girl Up Club hosted an open discussion on “building self-confidence and creating healthy relationships” designed for the middle school class. Together they discussed common examples of low and excessive self-esteem, such as fear of failure and narcissistic behaviors respectively. 

Zeitlin says that educating the youth on self-esteem is important because “self-confidence and building relationships are skills that we, as human beings, are constantly having to find ways to navigate through.” 

Furthering this point, Zeitlin comments that self-confidence is essential to both our self-perception and how we appear. “I wanted to team up with Ms. Shields in order to not only spread awareness about these issues and ensure that students do not feel alone in their struggles, but to also allow students to begin building healthy habits and learning to become more compassionate towards themselves and others around them.”  

“A healthy relationship has communication, compromise, and commitment,” Zeitlin continued. “Using communication as a way to make your loved ones feel appreciated is vital to the trust that goes into a healthy relationship. Finding compromise means understanding each other’s boundaries and discussing issues that occur. This way, you can commit by putting each other and the relationship first.” 

In addition, Zeitlin enjoys hearing others open up about their experiences.

“I wanted to team up with Ms. Shields in order to not only spread awareness about these issues and ensure that students do not feel alone in their struggles, but to also allow students to begin building healthy habits and learning to become more compassionate towards themselves and others around them.””

— Isabella Zeitlin

I was deeply moved after hearing teachers who I admire, Ms. Shields, Ms. Revathi, and Ms. Freitas, open up about their individual journeys towards finding the confidence to speak up for themselves, their aspirations, and to disprove sexist notions regarding [how] people of certain genders should or should not act.”

Patricia Freitas, the aforementioned middle school counselor who attended the discussion, says that “the material presented on social media and stress management challenges was very informational and insightful. [She] also appreciated the opportunity to share some of [her] personal experiences and to learn from other participants. Empathizing and relating to others’ struggles reminds us that we are not alone and inspires us to continue working hard towards our goals.” 

Zeitlin and other members of the Girl Up Club will host a second discussion for middle school students titled Body Image in the Age of Social Media on Friday, March 11th at 2 p.m. Pacific. She and the OHS Counseling Department encourage students to reach out if they need academic or emotional support.