Gurlstalk: Part Two

Words:
Gemma Lacey

Gurlstalk was founded by model and activist Adwoa Aboah and has blossomed into a global community, where young women bond over shared experiences. They address tough topics including race and sexual assault and have helped create a safe space where girls can share and connect with others. In the spirit of our latest issue which celebrates togetherness we spoke to some members of Gurlstalk to discover how the community has impacted their lives and what it means to them to have this resource in their lives. Their stories are candid, intriguing but most importantly full of realism, hope and optimism. The future is bright.

Priscilla is a mental health advocate, curator and writer. She is passionate about creating awareness of mental health issues and has written for The Mighty and Blavity. She advocates on behalf of a local domestic violence shelter, The Confess Project and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For her Gurlstalk is an international sisterhood and safe space for women to share their deepest pains, greatest joys and wildest dreams to other women, She tells us more about what it means to her.

GL: How did you discover Gurls Talk?
P: I discovered GurlsTalk on instagram’s explore page. I skimmed through their posts and instantly connected with the images of hope, empowerment and perseverance. I wanted to be a part of this community because its messages support my recovery and self-care.
MS: What’s been the most powerful thing for you in finding this community?
P: Shared experiences. It’s no secret the world is an overwhelming and intimidating place. Unfortunately, it is is easy to feel alone in our pain, curiosity and insecurity. As a survivor of abuse and someone living with multiple mental health diagnoses, I feel understood and supported by people across the world through GurlsTalk. It is comforting and empowering to connect with people like me that understand my experiences.
GL: What has it empowered and inspired you to do?
P: I am ready to channel my passion for mental health and community into my own online platform. I plan to launch my platform next year and provide a safe space for people of color to share their stories and to access mental health resources. GurlsTalk is one of my inspirations for my platform’s design and purpose. The goal is to provide a community that, like GurlsTalk, members can feel comfortable, supported and understood.
GL: You say the community provides a safe space to share their deepest pain and greatest joys- can you give some examples of the types of things to see and what that means to you?
P: Yes, under the “Gurls” section of the GurlsTalk website, you can search different topics like “#mentalhealth” or #sexuality” and read numerous user-submitted articles like “Beating Addiction,””A Letter To The Girl Who Was Raped,” and “Turning Shame into Humor.” As someone who can identify with all three of these topics, I appreciate that so-called taboo subjects are being openly discussed. GurlsTalk’s embrace of real female experiences helps me to heal and understand my own experiences. There is power in storytelling.
GL: Do you think community has a hierarchy? If so how does that evolve and who do you look to for guidance there?
P: I do not see a hierarchy in the GurlsTalk community. I feel that everyone is treated equally and encouraged to share their voice. I get the sense that everyone’s voice is respected and valued by the loving messages GurlsTalk posts. There is representation of people from all backgrounds and experiences.
GL: GurlsTalk is a global community, how has meeting people from all over the world opened you up?
P: Humanity is so diverse; there are countless cultures, religions and bodies that make up our world. By seeing different faces attached to similar experiences, I feel a sense of unity and compassion that I don’t always feel from greater society. It has opened me up to act with greater empathy towards others’ experiences, particularly those that don’t look like me.
GL: What are the things community helps you do?
P: Community helps you learn and grow as an individual. We are not meant to navigate this world alone. We need insight outside of our own minds and experiences to develop a deeper understanding of human experiences and of the world. If we rely solely on our perception, we will have a very closed-minded and biased conception of the world. Instead, through community, we can exchange ideas, help one another, ease our pain and share our joys.
GL: What do you aspire to do with the help of your community next?
P: As I mentioned before, I aspire to launch my own online platform that will foster a mental health community for POC. GurlsTalk is a strong model of what I hope to achieve with my online community. I want POC to have a safe space online to express their mental health experiences, receive necessary mental health resources and vocalize their ideas for mental health reform.

“The Gurls Talk community is an international sisterhood without boundaries; diversity, radical acceptance and self-love are unapologetically embraced.”

Immy is 16 and lives in London, she attends an all girls school, which says has strongly instilled the value of being a girl to her for years. She has that Gurlstalk opened up her perspective even more and showed her there are many ways to be a girl and have a voice and be supported by other women regardless of race, age, or background.

GL: Do you think in a big city like London it’s hard to find community?
I: I do think it’s hard to find a community in a big city like London. This is because without fully knowing what you stand for and believe in it can be easy to slip into a community or group of people that you don’t always agree with or feel like you don’t fit in with. However, I do think London, being such a diverse city allows lots of opinions and views to be shown which can help people find a community a lot easier, where they can broadcast what they stand for with confidence!
GL: You say Gurlstalk has helped you realise there’s more to being a girl than society tells you – what have you learned? Can you give us some examples?
I: Gurls Talk has really opened my eyes to the idea that you can have important views and make your voice heard no matter your age, when in society sometimes the most dominant people are adults. This was really shown to me through Amika George’s campaign against period poverty which I heard about through the Gurls Talk podcast. This really inspired me as it was amazing to see a girl around my age spread her message so successfully with the support of so many other powerful people!
GL: What issues do you feel most strongly about raising your voice to share.
I: One issue that is really important to me is the fact there is still so much discrimination in many areas across the UK. Living in London, it is easy to think that everyone is forward thinking and accepting like so many are in this City. However, there are still so many that don’t understand how important it is to have a better mindset on things like equality, sexuality etc and I think it is really important to try and spread the message to smaller areas in the UK in order to create a better society that will inevitably benefit everyone!
GL: What change would you most like to see in the future for women and girls?
I: In the future I would love everyone to have the power and confidence to speak up, there are so many people that are afraid to do this out of fear that they won’t seem cool or normal. I’d really love to see a more normal approach to broadcasting your views without fear of judgement!
@immy.stanley

 “Community to me is being able to create movement and a place to speak with support, confidence and zero judgement!”