So, today, I presented my "Body Jeopardy" presentation at a conference in Maryland for girls 13-20 years-old and I had more fun than I expected.
I hadn't been doing as many workshops in the last six months around reproduction, self-esteem and the like as I was doing last year and when I was the Assistant Director for a youth program in DC from 2001-2006. I had decided to facilitate at this conference because I always like to keep my feet fresh as a youth worker and the conference was specifically targeting African-American young ladies.
I talked to them about Saartjie Baartman, the woman known as the Hottentot Venus, and how her story of exploitation is a useful parable to look at when we think about self-esteem and body image. I learned that my session had been a bit controversial when parents had read what my subject matter was about. Because of my honest approach to reproductive health, self-esteem and sexuality, only girls 14 years-old and up could sign up for my session. I had about fifteen girls the first session and about seven during the second session. Two girls from my first session actually snuck out of their second session to come back to my session during the second session. I put them to work as my co-facilitators and they were so wonderful. It made my heart smile how the girls lapped up the information. Young women really want us older ones to talk to them about things in an open and accessible way and today's sessions really confirmed that for me. They asked me everything from how to put on a condom to the age-old question about getting pregnant while you are on your period.
The sessions were only an hour long and both ended before the conversations were really able to conclude naturally, but hopefully, all of the young ladies present got something valuable from our time together. I hope that my daughter and I will have such an easy time talking about the subject matter addressed today. Right now, she tells me that she thinks it's gross every time I say "Vagina".