Empowering Women: Q&A with #GirlTalk Founder, Lauren Mendez
Courtesy of Lauren Mendez
Editor's Note: This week we're highlighting women who are working to truly empower women. Our second feature is Lauren Mendez, founder of the #GirlTalk project. #GirlTalk embodies Polarity's vision of empowering other women . The following passage gives you more information about #GirlTalk in Lauren's own words. To learn more about the inspiration behind #GirlTalk, stay tuned for Lauren's Becoming a Woman Worth Watching article, as a continuation of our Empowering Women project.
How did you start #GirlTalk? What was the original inspiration?
The idea of #GirlTalk was first mentioned in a casual conversation one day with one of my best friends, Nicole. We were talking about how we felt like we knew so many dope women in the Bay Area and how awesome it would be to get them all together one day to just talk. Talk about experiences, struggles, goals, what is means to be a woman in this generation - all that. I found myself seeing so much girl on girl hatred and so little of women empowering other women that I felt compelled to create a space where I can encourage and influence other women to hop on this positive girl power train. The inspiration was and always will be to show women that we are strong as hell alone but untouchable when we come together!
What has been the greatest lesson you've taken from #GirlTalk?
My greatest lesson out of MANY that #GirlTalk has given me is that empowered women really do empower other women. What I mean by that is that its so easy for us to say we support other women and post that girl power Instagram post during Women's History Month but to actually be living and breathing that empowerment in your true day to day life - you see quickly the difference. The difference is that when you are genuinely empowered in who you are as a woman accompanied by having a tribe of boss babes supporting you every step of the way - your life begins to change in the best way possible and you begin to realize that in order to be empowered - you need to empower others.
What is your biggest goal with #GirlTalk?
My dream goal for #GirlTalk, aside from this becoming a real business to where I could do this full time - would be a #GirlTalk retreat! A not so distant goal of mine is to have a #GirlTalk retreat somewhere dope like Carmel and rent out an AirB&B for a weekend retreat - catered meals, beach house views, and some good old fashion - girl talk for the soul.
What message do you have for women who are afraid of voicing their concerns?
My message to women who are afraid to voice their concerns/opinions is "to find the best way to utilize your voice" - then sing at the top of your lungs the message you have in your heart. I always knew I had concerns/opinions and voicing mine were never the problem. The way I voiced them was a different story and not so glamorous at times- i'll be honest. Once I found the best way to utilize my voice which was in these #GirlTalk Events - I realized just how many women genuinely were interested in what I had to say and no longer was I just voicing every thought in my mind. When I spoke my mind, I was speaking with intention - not impulse.
What has been the hardest part of #GirlTalk?
The hardest part of #GirlTalk is that although many love and support the idea - the fire and passion really has to come 1000% from me and only me. I am human and there are days where I am on E and the thought of planning an event makes me cringe BUT then I remember why I am doing this - who is counting on me - and the positive affect this is having on women across the Bay Area - so theres no way I can let them down and I refuse to let myself down so I take a deep breath and take care of business - after about 15 minutes of whining to my best friend of course. lol
How has your perception of self-confidence changed since you've started #GirlTalk?
Words truly cannot describe my growth since starting #GirlTalk. I have always been a fairly confident person and was raised by amazing parents and grandparents who always believed in and supported me in every second of my childhood even into me now being a 26 woman. When it comes to me becoming a confident woman - again I was raised by two queens (my mother & grandmother) who embody every ounce of the word amazing women. They have always been my role models as to what I aspire to become. Since #GirlTalk - the way I would say my self confidence has grown is that as mentioned earlier - once I figured out how to use my voice, I then realized how many people were interested in what I had to say so having that ability to share a message that people appreciate is empowering in itself. The other piece would be that my self confidence increased so much after #GirlTalk because I was now holding my myself accountable for my actions and could now confidently look in the mirror and be so proud of the woman I see staring back because the woman I always knew I could/wanted to be - was now the woman I was becoming.
What do you think is the best way for women to empower other women?
I honestly don't think there is "one way" or a "right way" to empower women because I genuinely think we all (men & women) can empower women in so many ways whether it be small or large. Ways I find myself empowering other women is first by listening to their stories and secondly sharing mine to show them we share similar experiences. When I say listen, I mean really listen -the kind of listening where your asking questions as opposed to giving answers. So many women from all ages go through the same struggles and experiences in their lifetimes but so many times are afraid they are alone in those experiences which is why it's important to empower women by LISTENING and sharing your own experiences - it is the only way we can empower women is by showing them they are not alone.
Why would someone benefit from a #GirlTalk event?
My hope in what women can benefit from attending #GirlTalk is to have that light bulb moment on a few things: realizing they are not alone in the things they go through in their lies, realize that there are more women in this world who want to empower you rather than push you down, realize that no woman is perfect and we are all constantly working on being the best version of ourselves, and lastly realizing that there are so many amazing people in this world that you may never meet if you don't step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. #Girltalk was created as a safe place for women to collaborate, create, and grow together!