A little more than a year ago, it seemed certain that a woman was going to be ruling the roost and sitting in the White House. Now, that’s far from a reality, and preserving the voices of our young women is more important than ever.
Young girls, especially marginalized girls who are queer or people of color, often get overlooked when it comes to input and sharing their voices. MissHeard Media, a media group that only prints work from young women, understands this, and also understands setbacks on a personal level. Much like the unexpected obstacle women faced two Novembers ago, MissHeard Media recently lost their website and all previously published work. But they will bounce back, just like women everywhere.
We talked to Lindsey Turnbull, the company’s owner, about setbacks, following your dreams, and creating a voice for queer women in 2018.
Tell us about MissHeard Media. What is it, and what is your mission? What do you do to empower young women?
MissHeard Media creates positive, empowering, honest content and experiences for teen girls. We do this through our blog, which is written by girls from around the world, and through our workshops. Our mission is to connect girls to the world, one shared story at a time.
MissHeard Media’s blog gives girls a space to share their own stories, in their own words. We’ve had girls submit on every sort of topic, from fashion and TV, to surviving an abusive family member, to dealing with mental health struggles. Our workshops focus on building skills like leadership, advocacy, and community.
Ultimately, I hope MissHeard Media will foster compassion, empathy, and critical thinking skills in teen girls.
I know your site went down, but you are rebuilding the whole thing in 2018. What are your plans for the new site, and for the company in the new year?
People keep saying, “You can make the new site even better!” I know it’s well-meaning, but truthfully, I loved the MissHeard site as it was. My most important goal is to get it back up and running, of course. I’ll probably make a few changes, but it’ll be back-end stuff no one sees.
As far as the mag, we discontinued that in 2016, but all of the back issues will be available again, as soon as we’re live!
How does MissHeard empower queer women? Have you shared a lot of stories of girls coming out, or heard from anyone struggling with this?
MissHeard empowers queer girls by giving them a platform to honestly tell their story. I think it’s really freeing to tell your own story, and so powerful to hear that someone out in the world connected with it. The process of telling your story, and hearing from others, can help to inspire, comfort, or educate someone else, and that is what’s so powerful.
We have had stories from queer girls and we’ve had queer girls on our Teen Advisory Board. One girl shared a story of how her conservative church didn’t accept her bisexuality. Another shared a beautiful photo essay from NYC Pride. I am almost positive we have shared stories from other queer girls who did not make their sexuality known in their pieces.
What about trans girls—how do you support trans girls, and have you had any reach out to you or send you writing?
The same: we offer the platform, the power of connection, and community. We have not, that I know of, had any trans girls share their stories, although we follow and highlight several on Twitter, Jazz Jennings being the most well known. MissHeard is, of course, open to sharing stories from trans girls, although we haven’t shared any yet.
What do you think we can do in 2018 to help empower queer girls, especially in light of the current political climate and the issues we are facing?
As someone who is not queer, my biggest role is as an ally. I try to pass the mic and highlight other’s voices, and advocate when I can (by calling my representatives or attending a rally, for example). It’s important to know when to use your voice and when to let someone else speak.
I think as an adult, it’s crucial we let young people know that we care about them, and we’ll continue to work with and for them for what’s right. They’re not alone, and while they may be scared or nervous, there are millions of adults that do support them.
What are some of the most amazing stories that you’ve shared in the magazine so far, and how did they impact you?
Wow, what a great question! Is it unfair to say they’ve all impacted me? Each story I read reaffirms that girls are tuned in, paying attention, compassionate, aware, complicated, beautiful individuals. I love that. It’s something I wish I had when I was younger, as an only child in a somewhat rural area who didn’t quite fit in.
Two girls stand out to me. They were in the first round of Teen Advisory Board members, when I didn’t quite know what I was doing or what to expect. One, Julia, was a red carpet correspondent, beauty pageant competitor, published writer… she was, and continues to be, more accomplished than I am. Currently, she rebuilds houses in natural disaster areas. She’s in Texas right now, and just published her fifth book, I believe. The other, Sareana, is also insanely brilliant. She and her mother were homeless for a period, while she took AP and college courses in high school. She raised money for her own school fees and to help her mom. She’s currently taking a gap year volunteering around the world. I think she reads in, like, five languages now.
I try to keep up with all of the girls, because they inspire me, these two especially, to continue to do world-changing things. I am so proud! I’m like a little momma hen right now, all smiles and glowing just thinking about the girls
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Where you want to end up is not necessarily where you will, and that’s OK. I did not set out to be an entrepreneur, but the more I work, the more I know I couldn’t be as happy working for someone else.
No matter who you are or what you’re going through, you are never alone.
Setbacks happen, mistakes happen, failure happens. It’s how you respond to them that determines if you will be a success.