Mandy Kota: Empowering teenage girls to become unstoppable women
The media constantly creates narratives that influence the way we communicate, learn and interact with the world around us. Social media has amplified many of the issues young people face, including body image.
Mandy Kota felt this pressure of growing up. She labelled herself “the nice girl” in her schooling years, hesitant to try new things in fear of what people may think and how it would jeopardise such a label.
“The media amplifies a superficial and unhealthy narrative of what it means to be physically beautiful,” she explains.
Such narratives are problematic because they distract girls from growing an understanding of who they really are and what kind of life they want to live.
After learning of the growing rates of depression and anxiety among young girls, Mandy resigned from her career as a paediatric speech pathologist and founded Flourish Girl.
“The aim with Flourish Girl is to create safe spaces for teenage girls across Australia so they can identify the barriers that stop them from being themselves and fully self-express,” her website reads.
“Flourish Girl provides them with the right tools to help them navigate through these barriers.”
Identifying as Sri Lankan-Australian, Mandy is still learning how to embrace her roots whilst trying to break the stigma of mental health in the Sri Lankan community.
Girls feel pressured to be certain way by their family, and they want to do their parents proud, especially their mums.
“Both want to connect with each other but they sometimes don’t know how,” she explained.
Through Flourish Girl, Mandy also looks at empowering and strengthening the mother-daughter relationship of teenage girls, and one of her biggest supporters is her mum.
“My mum is love on legs, she is my role model and she continues to support me on this new journey,” she said.
But, Mandy’s passion and drive to empower teenage girls does not stop there. She has recently entered the modelling world, using the platform to reach out to more girls and to show them that they can define beauty on their own teams.
“I want girls to know that they can feel empowered without succumbing to the pressure to look a certain way,” she said.
I want girls to know their values are more important than their appearance, and that if I can say no to things, other girls can feel empowered to say no, too.
If you are a mum wanting to connect with your teenage daughter or if you are a teenage girl wanting to learn more about how to navigate through life, Mandy would love to have a conversation with you.