Lauren Galley, living a life of leadership, purpose and “girl power”
Interviewed by Sara G. Stephens
Leading a movement to empower girls with the gift of embracing their true selves and taking the driver’s seat on the road to unlimited possibilities.
HFM: You are the founder of GIRLS ABOVE SOCIETY, an organization that empowers tween and teen girls to be confident while maintaining positive morals and values as they face the tough pressures of today’s media driven society. What inspired you to build this organization?
LG: As I look back on my journey of creating Girls Above Society, I have found that inspiration can come from places we never knew possible. A girl I attended middle school with decided to create an incredibly mean and hateful MySpace “bulletin” for the world to view. At the time, I never knew how much of an impact this act would have on my life and how my journey would, in turn, affect others.
At the time of my bullying, I felt like my life was over, and hiding somewhere forever seemed like a good idea. I was lucky. I had a great support unit from family and adults who helped me through my darkest days. It was then that I knew I had to do something to help girls realize they are enough–knowing inside they, too, had the “Girl Power” to push past the negativity, rise above while retaining positive morals and values. And, of course, rock the world by being themselves.
HFM: Your “Girl Talk” program aims to build leadership skills in young girls so they can become excellent role models in their communities. Why do you think this is so important today?
LG: Girls today are finding their mentors through celebrities and going to extremes to fit in, be popular and attract boys by copying the social trends. They are striving for perfection, instead of striving for a realistic future that is fueled by their strengths. “Girl Talks” give girls a new perspective on finding their “sparkle,” and a big part of our talk is TALKING…something girls don’t really know how to do today. Girls are finding they are not alone and they share the same frustrations as they wade through the sometimes muddy water of social status. I love when girls finally see they are their own superheroes. Find your passion, connect with those who are like minded and basically go for it. When a girl has confidence and finds her voice, she is fearless and has the power to do whatever she chooses in life.
HFM: Have you ever struggled with body image and/or self confidence?
LG: I am thankful to answer this question. Models and celebrities are some of the most insecure people in the world. Because society places emphasis on perfection, I find that all girls, no matter their size, struggle with self image. I’ve always been thin…okay, skinny (I really dislike that word, but I’m using it to make a point). Sometimes I wish I had more curves and looked more like girls my age, but I remind myself that neither my size or shape is not a reflection of my capabilities. It’s how I feel and what choices I make that will reflect to others. The most important message I like to instill in girls is this. “Just think of all the hours you have spent trying to be a certain size or shape because you wanted to fit in or be validated by a boy. That fleeting moment of acceptance has little to no meaning when the skeleton is the only thing you have to offer.” I want to empower girls to be healthy and share with the world their BEST attributes, and I can promise them it won’t end up being their size.
HFM: I loved your TEDx Talk titled “#TextMe – The Elimination of Human Interaction.” What is the current outcome of our growing substitution of technology for humanity?
LG: Our future of communication is already headed down a techno-driven path that leaves little to no human face-to-face interaction. I have third-grade girls tell me they have smart phones and text. A decade ago, this was not the norm. So as you can see, very quickly our human interaction is being replaced by easy, fast, multitasking modes of communication, complete with cute little emojis. It’s scary!! I love technology and social media, but I do feel there is an urgent need to educate youth and step back to some much needed family time that doesn’t include checking your instagram while eating dinner.
The element of humanity that will be lost is our compassion and ability to display emotion in the right format. There’s no app that can replace a hug or a smile or the touch of human interaction. I believe our sense of touch will be lost completely by advanced technology.
HFM: You were named Ambassador for Secret Deodorant’s “Mean Stinks” Campaign, in conjunction with Teen Vogue. If you could boil the campaign’s message down to one, single piece of advice for girls, what would it be?
LG: Start your own revolution of kindness. If a girl is confident and knows her self worth, no one can tear her down. Sure, mean stinks and sometimes stings a little, but a girl above society will start a chain that will soon spread to those mean girls who will find that they are no longer affecting a girl’s emotions.
HFM: Your talents, skills, and accomplishments to date could conceivably land you in just about any professional field, industry, and role. You are currently studying Psychology at Sam Houston State University. Can you speak to why you chose this path?
LG: Psychology is the study of the mind. I am fascinated with our inner thoughts and why our mind operates uniquely in each individual. My ultimate goal is to earn my PH.d and work with children who have been abused or are in family crisis. Girls Above Society will play a large role in the future for young girls as a supplemental tool to empower and instill the confidence that is lacking.
HFM: Any mother reading this is wanting to talk to your mom and ask her how she raised such a focused, kind, sensitive and driven individual? What do you think your mom would say in response?
LG: My mom would say that being in the moment with your child is most important. One of the ways my mom has impacted me and instilled my morals and values is by not talking AT me, but rather talking WITH me. Taking the time to understand how a child feels and giving them positive mentors makes a difference.
On a funny note, My mom would say she often wonders if I were perhaps switched at birth. My mom used to pick me up from school and say, “Hey, let’s go to Starbucks or do some shopping.” I would say, “Mom, I have homework.” She would laugh, shake her head and say, “Geez, Lauren, you are not my child.”
Lauren Galley is also an HFM contributor, writing our Web Exclusive column, “Teen Take.”