April 12, 2023
AUBURN—Girl Scouts know better than anyone that one of the best ways to connect with one another is to acknowledge and celebrate our differences. That’s why Troop 5043 from Auburn took part in a meaningful self-portrait activity during one of their regular troop meetings this April.
“This was a fun way for us to have a serious discussion about body image and our differences, and also a positive opportunity to bring thoughts to the forefront that are becoming topics in our troop like LGBTQ+ youth,” said Troop Leader Jamie Ribisi-Braley.
As an artist and former teacher, Jamie jumped at the opportunity to share such a self-reflective, creative activity with troop members once they expressed interest.
“Our troop has been working on their art badges—a topic everyone loves learning about and participating in. Some of the older kids really love drawing people and, in thinking of a lesson, I came up with self-portraits,” said Jamie.
Troop leaders began their meeting by handing paper, crayons, and pencils, and asking troop members to draw themselves from memory, in terms of how they perceived themselves physically. Then they began to discuss the attributes of each other that differed in the non-physical sense: skills, personality traits, hobbies, etc. As the meeting attendees drew and wrote down what made them unique, they began to unravel the idea that many of the individual traits that make us who we are cannot be changed and should be celebrated instead.
Once they finished their paper drawings, Troop 5043 members were given hand mirrors to begin drawing on with dry erase markers.
“The mirrors allowed them to erase and redraw until they were happy with their outline. This was a new and great way to practice realistic drawing, it also allowed them time to look at themselves and explore what made them different,” said Jamie.
While working on their drawings, troop leaders and volunteers walked around, telling each member what they loved about them too, as a way to boost validation and visibility. Once the marker drawings were complete, tempera paint was the final art material to finish off the projects. At the end of the activity—everyone went home with a self-portrait that both looked and felt like the artist who created it.
As a multi-level group founded on inclusivity, Troop 5043 welcomes everyone. Now a large cohort of 28 Girl Scout members, Jamie says that initial mission to foster diversity and acceptance, is still their north star.
“We are building Girl Scouts of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. To do that, we must first provide a safe space that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible for all Girl Scouts, across many diverse identities,” said Jamie.