GENaustin (Girls Empowerment Network) is an organization dedicated to empowering girls by fostering in them a healthy self-esteem to empower them with confidence and courage to make wise choices. On November 6, 2010, Katherine Schwarzenegger will be speaking to the girls attending the “We Are Girls” conference in Austin, Texas. Read on to learn more about Miss Schwarzenegger and why she was invited to be the special guest speaker!

CAN YOU GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK AT WHAT YOU’LL BE SHARING WITH THE GIRLS AT THE GENAUSTIN?

Well, I am very excited about it. I’m excited to learn more about GENaustin and talk with the young girls to see what they’re each dealing with. For me, that’s always the most exciting part, what I look forward to the most. I’ll also be sharing information about my book, Rock What You’ve Got and about myself and what I went through in high school dealing with pressure from friends, school, parents, and especially from the media to look and be a certain way and how hard that is to deal with. Hopefully with the story I share, young girls will able to realize how important it is to be themselves, to know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO DEDICATE SO MUCH TIME TO EMPOWERING GIRLS AND HELPING THEM BUILD THEIR SELF-ESTEEM?

Whenever I come upon something I’m passionate about, I just go for it; I have a drive to really get the word out about it. I have always been quite interested in women’s issues, and when I became interested in how much pressure young women are under in today’s society to look and be a certain way, I decided to write a book about it to spread awareness about how big of an issue it is. Young girls are under so much pressure to be thin and to always look like they just walked off the runway.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE TITLE FOR YOUR NEW BOOK, ROCK WHAT YOU’VE GOT?

I went through a million different titles. I really wanted to have a title that said everything that the book is about, and Rock What You’ve Got says it all. It says to really own what you have and to be able to rock what God gave you. I went through so many different titles; this was the most catchy, and it really embodies everything that the book is about and the entire message that I want to send out.

WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE TO HELP GIRLS CREATE OR MAINTAIN A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE AS THEY MOVE THROUGH PUBERTY AND ADOLESCENCE?

The most important thing that my parents told me is how important it is to look at your glass as half full rather than half empty. I think we women look in the mirror and automatically jump to all the negative things and everything we wish we could change on our bodies. My parents told me how important it is to be able to look in the mirror and look at the positive things and build yourself up instead of tear yourself down. It’s really important for girls to have that talk with themselves: “I have beautiful hair;” “I have beautiful eyes;” “I have amazing friends;” “I’m good at this;” “I’m good at that.” I really encourage young girls to do that, because if they’re not getting positive reinforcement from their parents and they’re constantly bullying themselves, then they really have no positive things coming into their lives.

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP TURN NEGATIVE SELF-PERCEPTIONS INTO POSITIVE ONES?

Parents have a huge impact on how young girls see themselves. Parents can start positively influencing their daughters by giving them compliments that build them up. A lot of parents are very critical and competitive with their daughters, especially mothers, so I really encourage moms to build up their girls, to tell them that they are good in a certain subject in school, that they’re good at giving back to their community, that they’re beautiful, that they’re strong, that they’re athletic. Constant positive reinforcement is really important for parents to give.

HOW DID YOU MAKE IT THROUGH YOUR ADOLESCENT YEARS?

You do have to go through times feeling badly about your body. That’s what I did. We all have that period at some point in our lives. It really makes us stronger and provides us with great experiences causing us to learn more about ourselves and our bodies. For me, that’s how I went through it, and when I was done with high school, I looked back on my high school experience and realized how much time I had wasted trying to make my body something that it wasn’t. Through trial and error, you learn a huge amount about yourself and your body.

WHAT HEALTHY ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE GIRLS HERE IN THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY?

I would say not to stress about diet, really have fun with life, and have fun with food, but at the same time you need to exercise. The most important thing is to surround yourself with people who love you and make you happy. When all is said and done, you could be 350 pounds and if you have people around you who love you, support you and build you up, make you happy and make you laugh, you’ll feel great about yourself. I think that’s most important of all.

My parents told me how important it is to be able to look in the mirror and look at the positive things and build yourself up instead of tear yourself down.

 

Hopefully with the story I share, young girls will able to realize how important it is to be themselves, to know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

The most important thing that my parents told me is how important it is to look at your glass as half full rather than half empty.

By Lora Incardona