Above: Vanessa Schenck; TIA Girl Welcome Kit
The TIA Girl Club (the acronym is short for Today I Am) began with a bedtime ritual between Vanessa Schenck and the oldest of her two tween daughters. They often said their goodnights by trading a series of encouraging life affirmations like, “Today, I am awesome” or “Today, I am strong.” For Vanessa, a former Greenwich resident who now calls Stamford home, those moments were her antidotes to a behavior called camouflaging—when girls start to conceal their passions and personalities in a quest to fit in. “When you start acting like someone else, you end up losing your voice,” says Vanessa. “And when you come out of your teen years not knowing who you are, it can take decades to figure it out.” Last September, Vanessa began a retail campaign to share empowering messages with tween girls everywhere. Membership in her TIA Girl Club (about $25 per month) includes monthly delivery of a colorful treasure box filled with inspiring collectibles and a personal letter from TIA Trailblazers, notable women ranging from prima ballerinas to computer coders to racecar drivers, who encourage tweens to follow their own path. Launched with a highly successful kickstarter campaign, Vanessa also created a virtual platform that opens membership to any girl, regardless of whether she’s a paid, subscribing club member. Already, 6,000 girls have become TIA girls via Instagram. Now, that’s empowering. tiagirlclub.com
TIPS TO HELP PARENTS
EMPOWER TWEEN GIRLS
Even though your daughter may act like she wants nothing to do with you (and she will act this way), stay interested in her world. Keep talking, even if a door or two gets slammed.
KEEP TABS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
If your daughter has an Instagram account (most do), get one too and follow her. “If you see red flags about her social media behavior, start a conversation,” says Vanessa.
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY
When women say, “I feel fat” or even something as small as, “I’m having a bad hair day,” it sends a message that negative self-talk is part of life.
CELEBRATE A VARIETY OF FEMALE ROLE MODELS
TIA Girl Club “trailblazers” expose girls to a variety of accomplished women. “It can be someone in the media, in sports, in the arts,” says Vanessa. “The idea is to show girls that success and empowerment take many forms.”
BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU REACT
Show girls that you can gracefully persevere in spite of life’s inevitable disappointments.