• Lillie Burke

Women’s empowerment group promotes self-love

A Belmont junior is encouraging young women to love themselves and each other through I Am That Girl, a national women’s empowerment group that serves as a community for promoting self-worth in today’s world.

Graceann Belgiorno applied to be head of the Nashville chapter last summer and now holds meetings for about 20 members from Belmont, Vanderbilt and the community. The chapter’s motto is to “listen, lift up and love.”

“I’m happy to be surrounded by a community of girls who want to change the world like I do,” said Belgiorno.

At meetings, members talk about their struggles and successes as women, sharing personal stories in an accepting, nonjudgmental and uplifting environment. Self-worth and the idea of beauty are common topics.

“As women, it’s just hard for us to feel beautiful,” said Belgiorno. “There’s such a standard of beauty that we’re trying to live up to.”

With 100 chapters and 150,000 women involved worldwide, I Am That Girl was founded by Alexis Jones and Emily Greener in 2008.

Belgiorno was inspired to start a local chapter after reading Jones’ book “I Am That Girl.” In it, she writes the two most powerful words in the English language are “me too,” highlighting the unity of all women and ensuring them they are not alone.

Moreover, I Am That Girl strives to end the common culture of gossip and competition, encouraging girls to support one another instead.

“You shouldn’t compare yourself to another woman’s journey,” said Belgiorno. “Be like ‘Hey, I’m on this journey with you, and what you’re doing is amazing.’”

In addition, the members do activities within the community to help spread the idea of self-love and female friendship. In the past, they have passed out index cards with positive messages to women at Frothy Monkey and taken part in The Words Campaign, a social media movement that entailed posting pictures of their friends along with a positive word.

Still, the group mainly focuses on meeting together for open discussions. They address relevant issues such as negative body image, a problem exacerbated by social media.

“You’re gaining your self-worth through likes on Instagram and that’s a huge issue,” she said. “You should post a picture because you like it, not because you want someone else to like it.”

While her chapter consists of college students, Belgiorno would love to see younger girls involved and eventually wants to speak at high schools. She plans to continue to spread a message she believes women of all ages need to hear.

“You have to love yourself,” said Belgiorno. “It’s so important to love yourself.”

To join the Nashville chapter, you can contact Graceann Belgiorno here.

For more information, visit www.iamthatgirl.com

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