Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: This is a piece for my “Young Voices” series. It was written by Olivia Heimann who is thirteen years old and attended the launch of Girl Power. I am proud to announce that Olivia is an ambassador for Girl Power: You Are Enough. I am in the process of organizing the next Girl Power workshop so please stay tuned to this site and my social media.
I am looking for more young voices to publish so please submit if you have something to say. Please note, if you are under 18 you must have parental permission unless you are using a pseudonym. I am so excited to be working on the book Girl Power: You Are Enough, as well as the workshop for young women which has been a HUGE success so far. Please help me spread the word and sign up or sign your daughters/nieces/friends. I am also in the process of selecting ambassadors to represent #GirlPowerYouAreEnough. More information on this on my instagram at @jenpastiloff. Love, Jen
A Life-Changing Experience
By Olivia Heimann
On Saturday September 19, I walked into YogaStream studio, which was full of girls about my age. Everyone was definitely nervous and that only grew once Jen told us that we needed to trust everyone else in the room. As the class went on and people understood that we were here to boost and stand by one another – that’s what girl power is all about.
We wrote in our little red notebooks that said “Own Your Awesome” (by Your Joyologist) about things that we need to do to be happy and also things we would do if we were not afraid. Some people stood up and read what they wrote. It was so empowering to hear everyone’s stories about bullying, coming out, eating disorders, and so much more. We learned so much and cared so much from listening to everyone.
This is the part where I started crying and feeling. I was not the only room. The whole room felt it!
Jen asked us to think of someone to thank. It could be a family member, a friend, a pet, anyone. I immediately thought of one of my best friends, who is now in 9th grade. She has always had an uncomfortable relationship with food; because of the stomachaches she has had her whole life. Around November and December of 2015, she started having serious anorexic symptoms. I was the first one who realized what was going on, around mid-January. Soon after I noticed, everyone else saw the difference in her limbs and stomach. Everyone wanted to try and stop or warn her, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Her boyfriend at the time only made things worse by saying she looked good the way she was while she was anorexic. About 4 or 5 months into it, she lost her period, and fainted several times. At the beginning of this summer, she lost feeling in her legs because lack of blood circulation. Sleeping was kind of her “survival mode,” which is what she did most of the time. Every morning, she would get up, feel dizzy and fall. Every morning. Above all, she still hated her body and thought she deserved to be punished. At her lowest weight, she was 79 pounds, and still thought she was fat. She had lost about 40 pounds in 8 or 9 months. About a week after she got home from a trip to England, she realized things were so bad that if she wanted to live, she had to go to the hospital. She was in bed rest for a month. The doctors said if she had waited for another week to come in, she would have died.
When I thanked her, I said thank you for realizing this has to stop, thank you for realizing you have to go to the hospital. Thank you for not waiting any longer. Because what would have broken my heart was attending her funeral. All these thoughts running through my head about my best friend left me bawling. As I continued to sob, we all stood up and sang ‘I will always love you.’ That was an even more emotional part for me because it was like I was singing to my best friend. While I hugged everyone with tears streaming down my face, I was so grateful for being able to have that catharsis.
The next writing activity really hit home. We wrote a letter from someone who loves us. Since I had already thought of a friend, I decided to write the letter from my mom to me. I wrote about how she loved me, how she was proud of me for following in her footsteps, and how she admired how independent and confidant I have become. When Jen asked me to read my letter, I started tearing up. As I tried to breathe, everyone said, “We are here for you.” Of course my mom being in the room made me cry even more, but as Jen repeated several times JB (just breathe), I was able to stumble through the letter. The saying Jen told us numerous times “how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved” completely came to life. I was so confident in myself, when I heard my mom say ‘I love you, baby, I love you to the moon and back.’
After the workshop was over, I went to have lunch with my mom, Jen, and Justine, a girl who spoke about her physical appearance, and I asked if I could go to the class the next day in New York. They all said yes.
The Sunday workshop was similar, in terms of what we did, but so different, because the people were different. Again, I learned so much from listening to everyone’s heartbreaking stories. These were more about parents not loving them, divorces, dealing with money, college, and more. I realized in that class specifically, that I really have to let go of people that keep hurting me, and stop giving up on people who I know will let their guard down. I learned to own my vegan lifestyle, especially from the other proud vegans there.
I support this movement because I want all girls to feel like they are ENOUGH. I want all girls to feel loved and supported. But most of all, I want all girls to help, boost, and love one another. I want to do as much as I can to make this happen.
This past weekend has taught me so much about loving myself for who I am, lifting other girls up so they can feel safe about being who they are, and not judging others or myself. It taught me that I am enough, I am loved, and it reminded me to be amazed. As Jen so perfectly stated, “When I am older, and think back on life, I want to say, I HAVE DONE LOVE. I HAVE DONE LOVE.”