In the past few months, I've been able to work with and be exposed to some amazing women. As part of my leadership class, I had the opportunity to interview the head of a local independent school. She was the first woman leader at the school! She also played collegiate level volleyball and is now a coach. I wanted to get her take on all things: from her story, to leadership, to some advice for girls and women. A few quotes from our conversation that stood out to me were: 1. "Face the beast. And then conquer it. I would like to see more girls do that. These days, find whatever that subject is that's hard, don't run from it, face it and conquer it. You're more equipped than you think you are." My interviewee was talking specifically about how she almost failed her college Spanish class, but, this lesson is applicable to everybody. Whether it's a teacher, a school subject, a coach, a tough sports play, a boss, anything; rise up and fight through it. Women, and people in general, wouldn't be where they are today if they ran from their challenges. 2. "I think everyone should have a little butterflies. Butterflies are normal. And embrace the butterflies." Don't be afraid to be afraid. Harness your fear and run with it. Get excited about having butterflies, and use them to do and play your best. (You can also use Dragonwing to help you feel more confident about your sports-related butterflies!!) 3. "I shouldn't have to fight to be non-girly. I'm a girl. Get over it. I'm proud of being a girl." She said it all right here. No caption needed. Own it girls. This woman is doing amazing things and had a lot of great things to say about women. We need to keep women like her around! As this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month, women's strength is highlighted more than ever. Dragon Wing is supporting funding for Breast Cancer Research, by selling these bras! Take a look and help a great cause!
With Emma Watson's amazing UN Speech, women's rights has made it's way front and center in the media recently. It's also been highlighted more in my life, too. As part of a class I'm taking on leadership, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to interview a leader in our community. I was put in touch with the head of school at a local independent school. We talked about things all across the board, from her career path and how she got to where she is to her role as a woman of power and her suggestions for leaders, both young and old. A quote that stood out to me from her interview was:
"I think there's a certain grit that I would like to see in young women."She was talking about how women desire to be doctors and scientists but when they get into these classes and situations that are finally difficult for them, they leave. They drop out and find easier classes in something they don't love. They don't fight and grit through. Emma Watson said a similar thing :
"I don't want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about."Both of these successful women have set goals for women to push through the hard times if they're doing what they love. I love physics. In the past three years, not one girl has taken the Physics II class at my school. Right now, in my Physics II class, there are three girls and eight boys. We don't even represent one half of the class! And the three of us ladies came from the same class last year, with an awesome female teacher. Without her encouragement, we probably wouldn't have taken it this year. Everybody asks me and my best friend in the class with me, "why are you taking physics, again? Physics was so hard last year! I hated physics last year!" And we respond, "Because we love it!" They're always so confused.
Did you know that there is a decrease in physical activity when young girls experience breast growth? According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescents Health, "three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concern regarding exercise and sports." That is a large percentage and a cause for concern. Young girls are turning away from activities that provide them with the necessary skills to be successful and achieve their potential in life. Looking at Maslow's Pyramid below, you can see there are a lot of steps in reaching self-actualization, but being involved in sports plays a role in reaching this feeling of fulfillment. Sports bring you the psychological need of belongingness and love. Being on a team, provides you with these intimate relationships and friendships. It also gives you and your team a goal to work towards, which brings you closer together, as you support each other through the wins and losses on the field and the ups and downs off the field, as well. The aspect from Maslow's pyramid that is lacking in young girls development is self-esteem. The body image issues that arise when going through the period of breast-development and puberty cause girls to be less confident in who they are and the abilities and talents they possess. This halts their ability to reach their full potential and ultimately their dreams. Dragonwing Girlgear wants to restore this piece of the pyramid in young girls. Our initiative is to boost young girls self-esteem through the educating them about their bodies and providing the physical gear to allow them the chance to compete confidently in sports. "Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but they fail to have a comparable list for girls." Dragonwing Girlgear provides you with that list, as well as the knowledge you need about sizing and fit to ensure esteem is restored in young girls. With more pressure than ever from society to succeed, Dragonwing Girlgear wants to go beyond providing you with a clothing item. We want to give you the foundation and support you or your daughter needs to feel comfortable and confident in achieving their wildest dreams.
For the Dragonwing team, this video makes us emotional - especially when Jock Semple tries to pull her out. Kathrine's quote "all of a sudden this was very important ... nobody believes I can do this.. and if I don't finish, people will think all women can't." she finished in 4 hrs and 20 min. KV Switzer (and whoever wears #261 -how lucky are you!) You can watch the video here.
Dear Dragonwing Girl, I would like to start by saying you are amazing. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you have done to get to this point right now, you’re amazing. You have unlimited untapped potential and only the sky is the limit. I’m sure you’ve heard this before from loving grandparents whilst they grab your cheeks and squeeze you in a constricting hug, but right now- at this moment- I want you to read carefully. You are all the attributes I listed before and more; you are beautiful, strong, and smart and you can do everything you want to and more. Despite you and I knowing these things to be true, some will doubt you. Some will doubt you without even knowing you, and some will doubt you right after seeing your name on a resume. These some will be men, but they will also be women. Most will do this unconsciously, and I implore you to not be angry at them for the ignorance and bias they hold. I implore you to fight the fight of being a career-driven girl in a world run by men. Though it is important to not hold anger for the world being the way it is, do not conform to the need to be “pleasant” or “calm” or “collected." You can speak out when you see small forms of misogyny in your school or workplace. Whether it be a man dominating the discussion, or a guy in your group making snide comments, you can step up. You can make your voice be heard because you won’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can. So, stay strong because it can be hard sometimes. You might be called selfish or bossy or any other number of terms people like to use for women who don’t conform to their stereotypes, but if you struggle, if you stand your ground, if you fight for what you want, then we will be one step closer to gender equality. Sincerely, Your friend at Dragonwing girlgear, Abby
People often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential. Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits. But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls. When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it. Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl. We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe. Belonging is important. Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown). Sports provide a natural community. The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem. Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr. Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports. According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, "three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports." 75%!!! That’s just not acceptable. Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this. Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more. Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction. Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image. At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve... because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.
Sharing stories about women athletes matters. Equally important, hearing stories of amazing women athletes matters. One of my favorite legends is Serena Williams. To celebrate Black History Month, the artist Simone Grace is creating a coloring book with portraits of 28 amazing black women and one of the world's greatest athletes, Serena Williams is featured. Simone is my friend and classmate -and when I asked her if we could share this page with our community of athletic girls and their parents, she generously and ecstatically agreed. You can get a free printable coloring page here! Check out all the illustrations of visionary black women who are luminaries in politics, arts, activism, business and sports. Coloring is a fun, empowering and relaxing activity for all the strong girls and women in your life and makes a great gift! You learn more about Simone Grace and how to get the entire printable coloring book at the GoFundMe page here. xoxo MaryAnne Founder of Dragonwing girlgear
On this day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I will take the time to read his speech from The March on Washington in 1963, often called the "I Have a Dream" speech. As always, I am moved by the eloquence and power of his words. I am grateful for the efforts, sacrifices, and courageous acts -- large and small -- that have resulted in expanded civil rights for millions in our country. And I am reminded of the work that remains to be done -- work that I and WE need to do -- to help make Dr. King's dream a reality. If you would like to read Dr. King's speech from the March on Washington or any of his other works, you can find them online at The King Center.
A VISIT FROM DRAGONWING *
'Twas the night before the game, when all through the town
Not a suitable girl's sports bra or shorts could be found. So a Mom who was fed-up with the lack of quality and fit, Decided she could make something new - and with grit.She knew in a moment that athletic girls she must serve,
For girls are our future -- from that goal she'd not swerve.
With superior gear that met their high standard of play, Girls could compete without distraction -- hooray!Now, soccer! Now, lacrosse! Now, hoops and volleyball! On gymnastics! On skiing, on skating & all! To the top of the conference! To the top of the league!
With Dragonwing girlgear, there's no goal we can't achieve!
This Mom keeps on making stylish, high-performing gear
So sports girls everywhere can play with confidence and cheer.
You can hear her exclaim, as year ends (it's not a dream),
“Happy Holidays to all. Thanks for being part of our team!" with best wishes and many thanks, MaryAnne Gucciardi Founder & CEO
* with apologies (and thanks) to Clement Clarke Moore.
Let me begin by saying my mother is the coolest woman I know. She is a loyal friend, dedicated teacher, and incredible parent. One of the greatest loves of her life is running, but she wasn’t always the talented distance athlete she is now. Growing up, she was an actress, French enthusiast, and a cheerleader. When my sister and I were young, she ventured to try a running group and quickly began checking off races of shorter distances. One day, she asked to join her friends on a long run, and her dreams took off from there. She’s finished 26.2 miles through the vibrant city of Richmond, along the beaches of Wilmington, and even across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. This year, she completed her third Boston Marathon with courage and grace -- not to mention speed! She's wearing a hat in the photo, but underneath she was wearing a Dragonwing Racer sports bra! I am so thankful my mom found an outlet for her powerful energy. I am also grateful she found a close circle of friends through her sport. With them, she’s completed 200-mile team relay events: the Blue Ridge Relay and Hood to Coast. These women are all fantastic examples of strength, resilience, and bravery, and they support each other in running and in everything else. Next, my mama will lace up for the Berlin Marathon. The woman never ceases to amaze me.
The most popular professional sports in America, in the world, even, are dominated by men- think football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and, though an increasingly large number of females are playing sports, women’s professional leagues still suffer from lack of interest. This is in part because our society has long been adamant that sports are only for men but also because the legacy and culture of men’s sports are passed down from father to son. As a brand devoted to helping develop women’s sports and girls’ interest in sports, Dragonwing girlgear® believes it is crucial for girls to learn about female athletes who have conquered in order to see them as role models. Boys, and girls, who don’t play baseball are well aware of Babe Ruth’s story. What about the other Babe? Not that many young female golfers, basketball players, or runners learn about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the athlete extraordinaire who excelled at all of those sports. This trend we’re seeing, of female athletes remaining obscure and girls remaining deprived of female role models in the sports arena, must end if women are to achieve equality in the world of athletics. If the stories of strong, successful female soccer players, figure skaters, runners, and gymnasts aren’t told, their successes will be lost to this generation of girls. Girls should grow up with the belief that they too can become a part of sports history and that there is a spot for them in the world of sports. To understand this, though, the tales of successful female athletes need to be shared. In order to rectify this social pattern and to raise awareness of successful female athletes, Sideline Chatter is going to be featuring such legends on their birthdays, celebrating the players who have established women’s place in the world of sports.
Resilience. Strength. Grace.All characteristics of premier athlete and of barrier-breaker, Misty Copeland. Despite being told her form didn't match historically accepted ballet techniques and that she was too athletic, Misty redefined what it means to be a ballerina. Misty Copeland is the first black female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theater. She recently spoke with Susan Jaffe, Dean of Dance at the UNC School of the Arts in Chapel Hill, NC, to share her experiences and how she found her voice through her art. Here are our five favorite takeaways from their conversation.
- Evaluate the source of comments and opinions, and then decide how much weight they deserve. Negative comments might have derailed Misty's love of ballet, but instead, she chose carefully to whom she would listen and discovered the wisdom of listening to herself.
- Mentors play a significant role. Mentors helped guide Misty through challenges and provided the support network needed for success. Her first dance teacher, Cindy Bradley, was instrumental in setting Misty on the course that would shape her future.
- Resilience is the attitude you use to overcome challenges. It's not enough to keep trying, you have to see setbacks and failures for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow. It can be applied to how you rebound from a bad practice - you choose to focus on what went wrong, or you decide to focus on how you can do better.
- Love who you are because that is the source of your strength. Misty loves her muscular body, and it's what won over critics. What most saw, in the early days, as a negative, she turned into an asset.
- Keep it simple, and it will inform how you control your body (and mind.) When asked how she keeps her upper body so still, Misty shared her philosophy to keep it simple and to not add anything unnecessary to a move. This dance tip can be applied to any sport and really, to any part of our lives.
With these reflections, two more words come to mind when describing Misty Copeland.Celebrating its 15th season, Carolina Performing Arts is amplifying the creative leadership of women through performances and art. Check out their schedule for upcoming events. (Keeping with ballet, Wendy Whelan is on the schedule!) If you enjoyed this article, consider saying or leaving a comment below.