#activism: where to find your new online girl gang
The world is full of powerful women, there’s no doubt about that. The ones that teach, inspire, campaign, create and so much more. We see them, we love them and we ARE them. Every woman is a powerhouse; a voice that needs to be heard, and these incredible women are taking the lead in telling their stories.
It is easy for anyone to look at an Instagram page or Twitter account and think that social media cannot encourage any real activism. However, the most important impact that these "girl gangs” have is that they encourage women to take up space. So often, the voices of women are shut down or unheard, but on social media there is a specific space to exist in and thrive. Social media is a place where women can practice using their voices and sharing who they are in a safe space that was made for them.
A lot of the activism that comes from these online girl gangs is creative expression in response to issues facing women in the real world. Through art, poetry, song and much more, women are starting to reclaim their bodies, their stories and their spaces. Social media pages are acting as mediators so that women can connect with a larger community and find a support network that will listen to their voice.
Enter - the online organisations who encourage us to be better and bolder every day.
The Girlgaze Project, founded by Amanda de Cadenet, is dedicated to supporting female photographers to help them break into a male-dominated industry. The term 'girlgaze' is designed to take back ownership of the female body and experience. For years, a concept called the Male Gaze has been used to explain why men are usually the artist, and women the subject. For centuries, women have been turned into objects meant to be looked at, while men have the power to look.
Girlgaze is giving women the opportunity to be the artists and to "represent the intelligence, creativity, complexity and diversity of girls’ experience—across nation, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic background." It is de Cadenet's strong belief that those who identify as a woman have the important task of showing the world what its like to be us.
Girlgaze is a community of creatives who support and encourage each other on social media. The photographers of Girlgaze have been featured in Timeout, Paper Magazine, and Bustle, hired by Teen Vogue, and curators of a photography exhibit in Los Angeles. Girlgaze also offers annual grants to female-identifying photographers and have recently started a branch for filmmakers.
The Girlgaze Project has 86.5 thousand followers on Instagram where they curate an impressive selection of photographs to showcase "how girls see the world." The Girlgaze community submits work under the hashtag #girlgaze which also serves as a place for female photographers to connect with and support fellow creatives. The Girlgaze Project is an impressive example of what happens when girls support girls, and how social media can help women reclaim their stories.
Girlboss was founded by Sophia Amoruso after the success of her book #Girlboss in 2014. Amoruso created Girlboss Media to help women redefine success and dream big. The Girlboss community is one of strong and ambitious women who aspire to "inspire action and chase dreams in a shame-free zone."
On Instagram, Girlboss curates posts to encourage women to "redefine success for themselves." Quotes from celebrities and girlbosses are shared to 454 thousand followers each day to remind women to break right through that glass ceiling, and aim for the stars. The hashtag #girlboss has over 7.5 million posts, which increases by the hour, and allows people to find other female entrepreneurs and promote their own work. The Girlboss community is a group of fearsome, driven and successful women who are demanding what they know they are worth.
On the Girlboss Media website, there are articles upon articles written by girlbosses about various aspects of life to help women in their professional endeavours. There is also a Girlboss podcast where Amoruso interviews "boundary-pushing women who've made their mark." The podcast is all about humanizing our idols and getting real with the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
Alongside offering a community of support for female entrepreneurs, Amoruso has launched the #Girlboss Foundation that awards financial grants to women in the fields of art, music, fashion and design. The Foundation aims to give women a chance at becoming girlbosses and being the champion of their own future. Amoruso strongly believes, and it shows in the work of Girlboss, that women are the key to a successful future.
Not only is Girlboss a movement that anyone can participate in or a blog offering life advice, but it is a foundation giving women a chance at realizing their dreams. Girlboss shows that empowering creative women will lead to them empower others. This cycle of empowerment is nothing short of inspirational, and its all online for everyone to see.
Grl Pwr Gang is an online platform for "Grls in creative industries helping Grls break into the creative industries" both online and off. Founded by Kirsti Hadley, Grl Pwr Gang is designed to encourage and inspire young women to reach for their dreams in the creative industries. Based in London, England, the gang is an online community that crosses international borders and has strong ambassadors from celebrities to social media influencers.
Grl Pwr Gang offers opportunities for women to gain creative support through collaborative projects and get experience with media networking. The executives and ambassadors of the gang aim to pass their knowledge of the industries on to the next generation of women wanting to break into the creative world. Each of these girl bosses has their own profile on the website where people can read about their work as well as things they wish they knew when they were younger. The gang has been featured in campaigns with ASOS and Urban Outfitters, and in articles in Marie Claire and Garage Magazine.
While the Grl Pwr Gang has mostly existed online since its creation, Hadley and her team have been hard at work planning in person events where women and girls can hear speakers, meet each other, and gain support for their creative endeavours and networking experience. The gang has 19.5 thousand followers on Instagram and their posts encourage their followers to flaunt their individuality and respect others. The gang fosters a positive and supportive community on their page that celebrates women for their collective power and their individual strengths. The Grl Pwr Gang gives women tools and advice to break into the creative industries, and at the same time, helps them make uplifting connections on and offline.
It should be recognized that these are only a few examples of the incredible work of female empowerment on social media. There are many individuals and pages that work very hard to ensure that everyone, every single human being, has equal opportunity to achieve their dreams. Girlgaze, Girlboss, and Grl Pwr Gang are partly leading the charge, but there have been many before them and there will be many after them who continue on this legacy of Girl Gangs, on and offline.
Social media has been immeasurably important to the new age of feminism, namely because it has completely democratized it. Everyone can participate in the conversation and join the groups that they feel safest in regardless of location. This wave of support for women online is visible which forces everyone to see it as its inevitable it'll be retweeted or shared onto a Twitter timeline or Facebook page. Social media also allows allies of the movement to like and share posts even if they cannot add to the conversation.
These online girl gangs and their followers allow people to say: "I see you. I hear you. I support you."