Real girls. Reel stories.



I was incredibly inspired by Carla’s Brazen post and after nodding enthusiastically at the computer screen– I decided to answer her call to action:

What does BRAZEN mean to me?

I am the founder of Camp Reel Stories, a media camp for teenage girls. 

And I am about to embark on year two of getting 13-18 year old girls to work with professional mentors to make their own media.

I have been thinking a lot about what I want our 90 campers and 40 + volunteers to leave camp with.

At the end of our week together what has Camp Reel Stories added to their tool kit of life?

YES,  they should feel more technically savvy, media literate and have had a collaborative and empowering week, but what I really want them to feel and KNOW is that the mere act of TAKING UP SPACE is revolutionary.

I believe it can START A REVOLUTION!

Right now every time we turn on the television or watch a movie we see 4 boys for every girl, yet every time I walk out into the world I see pretty much the same about of males and females.

Advertising is doing its job quite well, by telling us we aren’t good enough the way we are and to aim for exterior perfection above all else.

And in 2014 the number of men that outnumber women in board rooms, CEO positions, CONGRESS, etc is still substantial.

All this keeps telling our young women (and even our super-established-amazing-older-than-teen-years women)  to lower their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

The message seems pretty clear “don’t take up too much space.”

I am afraid that our girls are taking themselves out of the game of life before they even learn the rules.

It’s so hard to be something you can’t see… so we need to make sure we are seen.

This is incredibly personal project for me.

Like Carla I also have a spirited daughter from Guatemala.

(In fact within 30 seconds of meeting our girls recognized that they both had not only the same homeland, but were born in the same hospital!)

As I started watching media with my fierce daughter I realized that there was almost no one she could relate to and that was unacceptable to me.

I believe to effect change you need straight forward and manageable actions that you can implement effortlessly.

We need to change this idea that we, as women, don’t belong.  I think the most BRAZEN act we can all do is TO TAKE UP SPACE!

To me to be BRAZEN means to stand up tall, to look people in the eye, to ask questions, to try new things, be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, speak out loud, even when your voice shakes. 

Every day acts that when done en mass will show the world and those looking up at us (our students, mentees, children) that we deserve to be here and so do they.

Being Brazen to me is being bold enough to take a deep breath and know that it’s can feel scary to be seen, but facing that fear is so necessary.

So JOIN ME, be BRAZEN, be SEEN and let’s start a revolution. TOGETHER.

If you want to find out more about Camp Reel Stories or to apply to attend the Summer 2014 sessions check out our website: Camp Reel Stories.

And if you’d like to donate to send a deserving girl to Camp Reel Stories please visit us here.


Esther Pearl is the founder and Executive Director of Camp Reel Stories. Camp Reel Stories is based in Oakland, Ca.   She believes in the power of great storytelling to create social change.


Never miss a post. Enter your email to get my latest posts delivered to your inbox.


  1. Hannah says

    Yes!! To be brazen is to be allowed to make mistakes and to be ok with our own failings and know we learn from them.

  2. says

    Thank you all for the kind comments. And to answer the question if it will change I believe it will, because I am seeing these young women take the bull by the horns and create media that overcomes negative stereotypes and is still super entertaining. You can see their films from last year here:
    Again I really appreciate the support!

  3. Esther Pearl says

    Hi Katie, I think the Truth in Advertising Act is great (Camp Reel Stories is part of the Brave Girls Alliance). I think it’s unknown if it will have a direct effect on self-esteem issues, but for me the issue is transparency and this will give us as parents and educators another tool to show how unrealistic advertising is. I also have hope that certain advertisers will see this as an opportunity to differentiate themselves and reach clients that are more interested in truth in advertising as opposed to the same tired stereotypes and cliches. Thanks for sharing the petition!

  4. Cheryl says

    Educators/others have been leading girl groups like this since I began teaching 40 years ago. Why do people think it’s something new? It’s not.