People often say it's what's on the inside that counts, but from a very young age, girls in our media-saturated world are bombarded with images of makeup, beauty, and fashion products that we're told we need to look and feel our best. (And that's not even accounting for the countless over-sexualized images of women we see in magazines and movies.)
Luckily, there's been a push to counter the pervasive notion that women's only value is in their looks. Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In campaign is one that comes to mind. So She Did is another. Never heard of it? It's a nonprofit organization and website founded by venture capitalist Victoria Song that includes advice columns, career tips, guest articles, and more resources to help women in their 20s develop their best selves. So She Did's logo is even the queen chess piece, because, as Song says, it represents the most powerful piece on the board. We've all known a woman who wanted to do something—so she did—and Song is on a mission to make that happen for every woman.
Shape: What was the inspiration behind So She Did?
Victoria Song (VS): I basically wanted to create the college resources I wish I had had. I remember thinking when I was in my early 20s that there needed to be more nourishing content for women. I'd look around at all these women's magazines, with articles on how to please your man, and what to wear, and I just remember thinking after I'd read a piece like that, 'You know, I don't feel great about this.' Actually, I think of them as empty carbs. So, basically, this was a result of me going through my 20s and fine-tuning my internal compass and really investing in myself.
Shape: Why was it important to you to reach out specifically to college-aged women?
VS: I think that your college experience really tends to help shape who you are. I know I went into college from high school where I had a 10:30 curfew until I was 18, and then suddenly, I had all these options and distractions. For some people, it's where they try alcohol for the first time. You can do whatever you want. So So She Did is here to help women stay focused on their internal compass in a system of new distractions. It's a unique way to find yourself.
Shape: We imagine you get a lot of comparisons to Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In campaign. How do you feel about that? Do you see So She Did as being in the same vein or totally different?
VS: I admire Sheryl Sandberg a lot, and I think what she says is remarkable, but I think it's what works for her internal compass. The language around success has been so binary; what we're trying to do is show people that it's not 'either/or.' 'And' exists too. For some people, Sheryl's path works. For others, it may not.
Shape: What are some of the most inspiring So She Did stories you've received or heard?
VS: I've gotten so many amazing responses! If you go to our celebrate page, you can see people submit their stories in real time. Yesterday someone submitted that their proudest So She Did moment was getting a full scholarship to Penn State University. We get so many great messages and questions from young women, and it's so exciting to know that they trust us to answer them.
Shape: You guys are launching a Twitter campaign today. Can you tell us about that?
VS: Yes! We're launching at noon EST and are asking that between 12 and 2 EST, people define and celebrate their proudest moments by using the hashtag #SoSheDid. We're also asking men to join in. We want to be inclusive, and there are a lot of men who have been excited to celebrate the women in their lives.
Are you celebrating a proud moment? Share in the comments below or tweet your #SoSheDid moment @Shape_Magazine!