MAYBE THERE’S A WAY TO CHANGE HOW GIRLS SEE THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER?
Toronto artist and illustrator Ellie Arscott is a mom of two girls. She just launched a community art project that is bringing together girls of all ages to help build their self-confidence and self-esteem through a powerful installation called Girls Stand Tall.
We asked Ellie about the project, what inspired her to embark on a journey of illustrating hundreds of portraits, and how you and your girls in TOw can join the movement.
WHAT IS GIRLS STAND TALL?
Girls Stand Tall is a community art installation that is about starting a positive conversation for girls about girls. Over the course of this year, the project will feature 200 hand-painted portraits of girls ranging in age from four- to 19-years-old. The process begins with a photograph – one that the girls love of themselves – that I then paint on a 6 x 6” wooden panel. On the back of each portrait is a sentence “I dream of becoming ________” written by each girl. At the end, the portraits will be mounted together creating a big visual impact and illustrating the effect girls have on the world, not only for the participants but for the community at large. I want the girls to know that their contribution adds up to something meaningful and together their voices are strong and so are they — that Girls Stand Tall.
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
I am a mom of daughters aged seven and nine. I recently read an article that stated that girls’ self esteem peeks at the age of nine – this shocked me. But I could see this happening to my girls –my daughter went from being confident in who she was to being influenced by the friends around her. These opinions – sometimes positive and sometimes negative – started to really matter in her world.
I had been trying to help them navigate social interactions at school. I eventually had that ‘ah ha moment’ when I realized that rather than trying to help the group, I needed to shift the focus to my own daughters’ and help them navigate these interactions themselves.
So I started thinking of ideas on how I could inspire girls to keep that confidence. Maybe there’s a way to change how girls see themselves and each other – and how the world sees girls?
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR THE PROJECT?
As an illustrator and painter my language is visual and I wanted to create a positive experience where the girls can see themselves and how they fit into a larger community of girls. The project is about promoting self-esteem. It is so important and so easy to feel it waiver. There is something very powerful about throwing your dream out into the universe, writing it down and seeing it. I am a big believer of what you send out there is what you get back. So if we write it down, say it enough and believe it, we can hang onto it.
Ultimately, I want girls to know that they are not alone. I want them to see that no matter where they come from, what they believe in, what they look like, however old they are – they need to believe in themselves and each other. Support each other. See each other as equals. Take care of each other. That together through our similarities and differences we stand tall. That Girls Stand Tall.
WHO DO PEOPLE PARTICIPATE?
Get in touch! The project is already unfolding and over the course of this year you’ll see more and more portraits revealed and more girls become part of the Girls Stand Tall community. If you’d like to participate, you can reach me on Facebook and on Instagram. Can’t wait to hear about what you’re dreaming to become!