My name is Fiona Lowenstein. I am a high school sophomore in New York City, and my passion is politics. All my life, I have been drawn to current events, international relations, and problems that affect women. Beginning at age of six, when I first expressed interest in the Bush v. Gore election and continuing through age 12 when I began my internship with Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, I have been fixated with learning as much as I can about politics and the world we live in. I am interested in the role women and girls play in society, and very serious about empowering and educating girls my age. I believe change starts in small ways through individuals, gatherings, and clubs. That is part of the reason I was so delighted to hear about The WonderGirls, and am so excited to begin working with the organization.
I am always looking for opportunities to learn, and have participated in many school clubs and organizations, such as the debate team, student government, committees looking to better the school, and the newspaper. In the summer of 2009, I participated in a three-week political program at Princeton University, and was also selected for a program called Running Start, which encourages high school girls to run for office through a five day program in Washington DC where they are introduced to important and inspiring women in politics and on the Capitol, taught to fundraise, give public speeches, and appear on camera. This was an amazing opportunity, and I met many girls my age who share my passion.
In May, 2009, I was featured in a book of essays, Shes Out There! Thirty Women Under Thirty Who Aspire to Lead the Nation. The book is a compilation of essays written by girls and women from ages five to thirty five who have aspirations to someday be president. She’s Out There granted me some very cool opportunities such as a book-signing, a chance to blog for the Huffington Post, two appearances on national news, and the introduction of many new inspiring women.
On Sunday, February 21, 2010 I attended my first WonderGirls workshop. The day started out with lunch for the girls and mothers. I quickly bonded with my table of mothers and daughters, who I found to be talkative, intelligent, and excited. Then, singer-songwriter Naomi Less warmed us up with a song about Being the Real You, and an improvisation exercise where we learned about each others passions and hobbies. The rest of the day was filled with workshops with experts, where we discussed everything from how to best organize our school planners and book bags, to how to be a better friend. We had a relaxing stress-reducing exercise, learned about making good food choices and created Vision Boards, which depict our dreams and aspirations.
The day ended with a talk from Kristen Johnston, the actress especially famous for her roles in Third Rock From the Sun and Ugly Betty. She spoke to the group about her experiences with false rumors, adolescence and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin. I found her to be incredibly inspiring: a beautiful, funny, confident woman who provided us with words of motivation and goofy ways to get over girl drama. More specifically, what really inspired me was her ability to truly understand what many of the girls at the workshop were going through. Johnston made each of us tell her what we were good at and pushed us to look within ourselves if we couldn’t think of anything. She also hugged and comforted one girl who broke down while relaying a story of bullying. Johnston was down to earth and left us all with the sense that different is good, and everyone has a strong, smart, self-assured woman inside of her.
I think the workshop made a real difference in many of the girls’ perceptions of women in the media, “good girl” behavior, and meaningful relationships. All in all, it was a Sunday well spent, and I look forward to participating in future WonderGirls programs.
As I grow older, I become increasingly interested in the deficiency of women in leadership roles. Initially, I looked to share these shocking statistics with my peers. I soon noticed there seemed to be a deficiency of teenage girls interested in politics, as well. This worried me. Who was going to change the leadership gap if not my generation? I was frequently asked, Why are you so interested in politics? To me, politics was not a hobby, like knitting or soccer; it was the world around mehow could I not be interested? Another surprise was how few girls and women identify themselves as feminists. Many of my friends treat it as a dirty word, or as a movement with no relation to them. These questions lead me to create BarbarasAngels.com, a website I hope will enlighten and empower girls of my generation. I am a strong believer that teens simply are not aware of many major issues, and that is why they are not more vocal.
Fiona Lowenstein also blogs for thegirlsleadershipinsitute.org/blog, barbarasangels.com, and posts her own songs on www.youtube.com/user/fionalowenstein.