Celebrating badass modern women;
those who who show up & walk tall,
living unapologetically, at home in their own skin.
In rural China, there is little support for young girls during adolescence. It's a journey that often remains 'invisible,' with the physical changes, transitions in psychological development and challenging interpersonal relationships often being navigated alone.
Bright & Beautiful seeks to change this. #GirlTalk meets its co-founder Chenxi Ouyang, who believes that by empowering the next generation of girls, we can change the way society views womanhood in China.
On Empowering the Next Generation
In order for young girls to have the confidence necessary to break the cycle of poverty, they must be comfortable with themselves physically and psychologically. This is difficult without education or guidance about how to manage the complex changes that occur during adolescence.
We founded Bright & Beautiful in 2013, to help girls aged 12 to 18 living in rural areas develop active and healthy relationship with their bodies, hearts and minds.
So we hold coming of age ceremonies which include a celebration of womanhood alongside sex education. Girls learn the names of sexual organs, understand why menstruation occurs, are taught how to use contraception and to care for themselves during their periods.
The celebration element allows the girls to realise that while this new stage of life is full of challenges, it is also full of beauty and love.
On Modern Womanhood
Women today have more opportunities as well as more challenges. The women before us - our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers - have all been personally wounded by a patriarchal ideology. The trauma of these generations has become our collective trauma and we see the deep impact of it in women’s subconscious today. Seeing it is painful but it is also the first step to rise and change.
Bright & Beautiful believes waking up the inner strength of adolescent girls is a way to slowly heal our collective trauma. We want to tell girls to resist the external expectations that stem from this patriarchal society; telling them, "you don't have to be 'big' or 'great,' you just have to be you. From there, you can achieve anything."
On Body Image
I have a positive relationship with my body, but this wasn't always the case. As I've grown older, I've learnt that whether or not my body is attractive doesn't dictate whether it's good or bad, or how well it functions.
It's essential to promote this kind of inner-confidence in the younger generations because no matter how empowered we feel, if a women or girl feels ashamed of her body, her full potential can never be realised. We must educate ourselves and each other to value this natural strength over externally defined aesthetic 'appeal.'
During my adolescence, I was troubled by problems during my cycle. I’d sometimes complain to my mom, saying: “Why do I have to have a period? It’s such a pain! If I didn’t have it, life would be so much better!”
My mom would just tell me that the menstrual cycle is the foundation of the female experience; she (the menstrual cycle) helps us detox; she provides essential indicators about our health; she allows us to have babies. Later in life, I began my own exploration and came to appreciate my cycle.
In today’s society, we are always on the move, so every month during our cycle our body’s are uncomfortable. We must learn not to be frustrated by this but use it as a reminder to slow down, look inward, and pay more attention to ourselves.
When I was young I was self-conscious, sensitive, optimistic. I was a dreamer. But my mother’s death last year profoundly changed me.
I realised that life is short and rather than dreaming, I want to spend mine connecting with those I love and creating positive change in the world.
In my early 20s, I mistakenly regarded isolation as 'independence.' I was not interested in falling in love, because the meaning of 'independence' seemed to dictate that one should be happy living alone.
However, I turned 26 last year and when my mother died in April, I began to feel the greatest regret of my life. I wish that I was not so obsessed with 'independence.' I wish that, rather than pursuing a life others felt was cool, I had connected with the people around me more deeply.
I want to encourage young people to connect with each other rather than pursuing this mislead view of independence.
On The Future
I'm know i'm still afraid to be present. I want to be brave enough to live in the moment, without fearing what the future holds.
- Girl Talk -
Scan the QR code below to follow us on WeChat
for our content in Chinese