At the beginning of July 2018, we welcomed Savannah Young, age 14, into Girls Friendly Society Head Office for a week-long work experience placement. Savannah gained insight into the work of the organisation and the sector as a whole, as well as experiencing life in a busy Central London office. Savannah was a brilliant addition to the team – during her short time here she worked tremendously hard and fully engaged in every project she undertook.
Savannah also provided valuable insight into the life of a teenage girl in 2018, informing Head Office of how we can improve our approach to create a stronger awareness for GFS among girls and young women. Before Savannah left, we had the chance to catch up and have a quick interview. This is what she had to say:
What made you choose GFS as your work experience placement?
Being a strong feminist, I fully support the mission of GFS and I respect what the charity does for girls and young women. Doing something for the benefit of other people, or society as a whole, has always been something I’m interested in – I love the idea of making a difference. Also, I’ve never worked in an office before and I thought it’d give me the preparation I need to enter the world of work (when I finish my education).
Being a strong feminist, I fully support the mission of GFS and I respect what the charity does for girls and young women.
What’s next for you?
Next year I am going to be in year eleven, which means GCSEs and finishing school. I will be taking the core subjects – Maths, English literature and language. In addition, I will also be taking Triple Science, Music, History, Spanish and Further Maths. After completing my GCSEs I hope to go to sixth form college to study A Level Maths, Further Maths and Economics.
Do you have any female role models?
Yes, quite a few! My main one is the actor Zendaya. Zendaya is in the media a lot but doesn’t fit the usual ‘celebrity’ mould. By purposefully ignoring the stereotypes expected of her, she is able to set a standard for girls and young women. I particularly like that she doesn’t edit her photos or let anyone else edit them without her consent. By taking this step, she is able to take control of her own image and show the world that ‘being perfect’ is an ideal created by the media. Zendaya promotes the message that every girl is perfect in their own way because there is no specific definition for ‘perfect’.Like Zendaya, I think that every girl’s worth should be recognised separately from their body shape or size and more should be said about a girl’s personality, values and actions.
What are the biggest challenges facing female teenagers today?
I believe that the biggest issues facing female teenagers today is the pressure to look and act a certain way in order to please everyone around them. The trends set by celebrities make it hard for teenagers to make up their own minds on what they should wear or even how they should act. Fitting in is so important for female teenagers and since online female “role models” are so popular, the biggest way to fit in is to follow the fashion and actions of these women. However, I think a lot of these so-called role models are an unsuitable choice for many girls and young women. This is because their focus is mostly superficial and they don’t talk about things of significance. It’s a shame because there are so many female role models out there who do a lot for society and, even if they sometimes talk about superficial things, they talk about important things too!
GFS exists to try and build confidence, well-being, resilience and self-esteem – out of these four words, what do you think is the most important for girls and young women today and why?
I believe that the most important one out of those words is self-esteem. Now more than ever, it is important to have self-esteem. There are so many unrealistic standards set by other people which are impossible to follow, especially for girls and young women. I think it is important to remember one’s own self-worth as a way to combat the standards that are put upon them. In many ways, it is a bit of a relief to have self-esteem because it allows you to accept yourself for who you are and ignore the pressures from the outside world. Having self-esteem allows girls and young women to be aware that they don’t have to look like a certain person, they do not have to have that body shape, that pair of shoes, that dress and they don’t have to do their makeup like that to be perfect. It allows them to know that they are perfect as they are, even with all their differences.
“Like Zendaya, I think that every girl’s worth should be recognised separately from their body shape or size”
How do you think GFS can reach more girls and young women and encourage them to join a local GFS group?
I think that GFS could reach more girls by widening the areas it operates in. I also think adding more activities to the Activity Finder that relate to the interests and hobbies of girls and young women would be beneficial. There are lots of activities for 5-12 year-olds but not as many for older girls, like myself. GFS could do more activities involving beauty and fashion or some sports initiatives like Hockey, Football or Rugby.