This was me when I was about 13 years old:
I was very awkward and uncomfortable in my body. All of my time was spent doing activities my parents determined would make me a functional grownup :) There was private school, art lessons, music lessons, soccer practice, track practice; I was very privileged. My immigrant parents were determined that I would have everything growing up that they did not have; I was living up to my nickname, powdered feet. Knowing my past and my privilege makes it all the more difficult to accept that, right now, young girls like I was live a very different existence. At the age of 13 years old, many young girls in Ethiopia will be married off to men much older than they are. Sometimes 10 years older, sometimes more, these men are complicit with a system that robs these young girls of their futures. Rooted deeply in customs and local traditions, child marriage is not something I seek to attack from an ethnocentric point of view; for reference, the practice is illegal in Ethiopia itself, where the law dictates that 18 years old is the legal age for marriage. So rather than discuss what is going wrong, I want to talk about possibilities - the possibilities that open up when a young girl is NOT married off at 13 years old and is given the opportunity to grow and flourish.
On October 11th, I will co-host an event in celebration of International Day of the Girl that will benefit Girls Gotta Run, an organization committed to giving young girls athletic scholarships that allow them a chance to be educated and a chance to be children!
Meet: 7pm at Street Bird (Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant on 116th and 8th)
Oh, and ps. In case you're wondering how my flexibility is going, here's an update below :)