While it’s great to pass along wisdom to the next generation, sometimes as adults, the most helpful thing we can do is listen.
On the final day of #BlogHer17, four seventh graders — Zaki, Reed, Elyssa and JoJo — took to the stage alongside professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, surfer Quincy Davis and model Charli Howard for a panel discussion called Advice to My Seventh-Grade Self.
The panel was part of SheKnows Media’s Hatch Kids series, which creates “content for grown-ups made by kids with a mission.” The goal is empowering kids to use media and technology to express themselves in productive and positive ways.
More: Dispatches From High School: Teens Talk 13 Reasons Why
Reece opened by describing her seventh grade self — who happened to be 6 feet tall — before asking Howard how she navigated her own path in the fashion industry.
Howard recalled her experience of wanting desperately to be a model and losing weight to become a size 2 only to find after several years that it was not sustainable. That’s what prompted her to write a viral Facebook post telling her agency to “Fuck off,” and now, as a stunning size 6 to 8, she works as a plus-size model.
Despite the fact that by all accounts, being a size 6 to 8 is anything but plus-size, Howard said that she has gotten “loads of abuse,” which she believes “comes from a place of jealousy.”
“It’s their problem — it’s not mine,” she added, going on to emphasize that it’s important to remember that what you see online is edited and perfected and not real.
“What I really want to do is create images I didn’t see growing up and show women we’re all beautiful in our own way,” she said.
Reece, who in addition to her career as an athlete also had an extensive modeling career, told the Hatch Kids (and the audience) that, “if beauty is your currency, then you grow poorer each day.”
She continued, “When you can start to compliment and appreciate other women’s power, it eliminates the need to be competitive…You’ll die by that sword.”
After introducing themselves and having the opportunity to ask specific questions of the panelists, the Hatch Kids each provided some words of wisdom to the adults in the room, starting with Zaki, who advised, “Let kids be themselves without letting us run wild.”
According to Reed, “Adults should encourage kids even if they don’t understand them,” as long as “they’re doing something that makes them happy.”
Seventh-grader Elyssa wanted adults to know they should “never shoot down dreams” but “just let them grow.” She also asked for support and discipline — “but not too much” — saying that without rules, she’d “be much less of an amazing person.”
Lastly, JoJo stressed the importance of allowing and encouraging kids to play outside. “Let kids be kids,” she advised.
Great advice, guys — we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Check out the video below to see what Chelsea Clinton, Margaret Cho, Serena Williams and other amazing speakers from #BlogHer17 would tell their seventh grade selves.