Meet-ups empower young girls living in DC

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Meet-ups empower young girls living in DC

Ava Ahmaan

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In recent months, I have noticed a rise in movements promoting self-love and acceptance, both on social media and in reality. These movements address the issue of “skinny” and European standards such as white skin and blonde hair being portrayed as synonymous with beauty in today’s society.

These issues were part of the discussion at the most recent Girl Power Meetup, which was held at the National Portrait Gallery on January 31. Forty or so girls, diverse in race and age, gathered to discuss self-love and what it means to them. The girls spoke passionately about what they believed self-love to be and how they achieve it. Many of the girls were artists, photographers, painters, singers, poets, writers, and DJs, who promote change through their art.

Girl Power Meetups was started by three female DC artists: Samera Paz, Lee Phillips and Ari Melenciano. Samera Paz said in an email, “Girl Power Meetups was an idea I came up with that originated from going to women powered events like Politico’s Women Rule and Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Awards in 2015. I saw how important it was to highlight women who were chasing their dreams and how we need to start supporting each other.” She noticed that she was only getting to spending time with women she enjoyed at parties and other events. She also realized that she “could only relate to girls when we began discussing negative topics like sexism and other injustices we experience in our lives.”

Paz sensed she needed to make a change and bring a platform to DC where girls could express their desires for social change as well as strive for a difference through their art. She reached out to Lee Phillips and Ari Melenciano, who she thought of as “independent, artists, [who] were creating brands for themselves and were overall amazing girls.” They have been organizing the meetups together ever since.

At the recent meeting, I certainly felt the sense of community Paz wanted to create. Girls shared their personal art and were received with applause and smiles as well as positive feedback. It was so exciting to be part of a positive group of girls, especially when it is far too common for girls to tear one another down.

This is another aspect of Girl Power Meetups that Paz touched on. She believes the movement is not only about sharing art, but also about supporting those around you. “We are building friendships, learning from one another and doing the things we love all while having fun. Everyone matters, everyone has a voice. We just want to showcase everyone’s talents and do what we can to support every girl and person that interacts with us.”  

Founder Melenciano spoke about her vision for Girl Power Meetups. “We envision GPM being the source of positivity, connection and support within the young female community in DC and eventually around the world.”

Girl Power Meetups is growing not only in the DC area but in other places as well. Due to popularity of the movement, the organizers created a guide for girls who want to start a Girl Power Meetup in their city. With their influence growing, the dreams of Melenciano and the other members may not be so hard to reach. Describing her vision for Girl Power Meetups as big, Melenciano says that the group’s goals are ”being able to produce and provide grants/scholarships for female creatives, create and host events that showcase the talent of young women, mentor young ladies in elementary to high school, be politically and charitably active and become a non-profit.”

After attending the last meetup at the Portrait Gallery, it was not hard for me to believe that this movement would accomplish all they hope to. It was something magical to be a part of and I encourage any girl who is interested to come out and be part of something important. I am confident Girl Power Meetups is going to accomplish great things.

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