This Young Female Artist Says Girl Power Means Loving Yourself & Being Your Own Best Friend

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If you were to ask influencer Katie Stivers what “girl power” means to her, she’d tell you it’s about loving yourself and being your own best friend, because nobody has your back like you do. Furthermore, Katie says girl power is also standing up for yourself and refusing to accept anything less than what you deserve. Read on to learn more about Katie and how PINK’s GRL PWR Project could make dreams like hers come true!

Her Campus: When you hear ‘girl power’ what is the first person/visual that comes to mind?
Katie Stivers: I think of all the women who inspired me to chase my dreams. There are entirely too many to name and they’re all uniquely important for different reasons. Girl power is a woman who believes she is powerful and unstoppable. Together, we can push each other even when we lose our shine. When I hear girl power, I think of the women who changed the world by simply being kind and recognizing other women for their own beauty.

HC: With that in mind, how would you describe your own definition of ‘girl power?’
KS: We have a responsibility to correct the mistakes of women in the past. Girl power is standing up for one another, encouraging one another, never letting someone stand or feel alone and educating one another. We have to set better examples for future generations of women to come. Girl power is the strength we all gain from growing together.

HC: What does strength mean to you?
KS: Going to work when you’re mentally crumbling. Asking for help. Saying no. Taking the extra five minutes to breathe. Recognizing that you are human and there is no right way to go about life. Strength comes in many forms. It comes on the mornings you thought you couldn’t get out of bed. It’s choosing comfortable clothes over fashionable. Strength is deleting, blocking and starting new because you deserve more. We don’t credit ourselves enough for how strong we truly are. It even takes us by surprise more often than not.

HC: Who is a woman in your life who embodies that meaning?
KS: My sister. She went through a divorce this year, overcame stage three cancer, ran a marathon, went on multiple solo travel trips and found her faith again. She’s making new friends, trying new things and refusing to let anything hold her back. For someone who truly believed their life was “over,” she’s becoming the version of herself she was always meant to be. I couldn’t be any prouder of her.

HC: Who’s the biggest hype girl in your life?
KS: ME! I used to be my own worst enemy. I was so cruel and harsh on myself. Self-care is so much more than bubble baths and face masks—it’s becoming your own best friend and picking yourself up on the darkest days. Parents swore to us that breakfast was the most important part of the day. They were wrong; it’s getting ready for the day. It’s telling yourself you’re good looking in the mirror; it’s getting so excited about your outfit that you dance around the room. I would spend hours crying over a bad hair day or a dry face and asking myself if I could really wear these pants for a third day without being bullied. Loving yourself and being your own biggest hype girl is a blessing. Nobody has your back like you do.

HC: When you’re feeling discouraged in work, school, or your personal life, where do you look for inspiration and support?
KS: Music. No matter what is happening in my life, music can change my mood. It can take me back to memories I had forgotten about, to places I want to remember and bring back the ones I love who are no longer with us. Just don’t talk through a song I just turned up in the car (ha!).

HC: What little ways do you build up the women in your life?
KS: While I will be the first to admit I am not the best friend when it comes to staying in constant communication, I do love with my entire heart. You have an event? I’ll be there. You’re starting a new job? I’m calling to wish you good luck the night before. Nothing to wear for your cousin’s rehearsal dinner? Raid my closet. My mother raised me to be a shirt-off-my-back kind of human. Whether you’re a friend or a stranger, I’ll be your biggest fan. 

HC: If you had the resources and money to make it happen, how would you empower the women in your life, your community, or the world?!
KS: Heck yeah! That whole money can’t buy you happiness is a lie. Money could help create career opportunities for my friends and allow me to invest in their dreams. I can’t wait for the day that I can hire my friends, the women who strive for success. That’s all anyone could ever hope for.

HC: When in your life have you felt the most empowered?
KS: Every time that I get to prove someone wrong. As an artist, encouragement and respect has never been an easy thing to attain. Most people say it isn’t a real job, you won’t make it, you’re wasting your time. I was bullied quite a bit growing up. It made a lot of things as an adult difficult to overcome. However, life throws you fun curve balls every once and while. You get to run into the people who excluded you, made fun of your clothes or wouldn’t let you sit at the table. “Hey! I saw you’re a photographer now! You travel so much! Wow, who would’ve thought?!” Me. I did. While I chase my dreams entirely for me and my own happiness, it’s moments like that you realize every ounce of hard work was worth it.

HC: In your education is there a standout teacher, class, advisor, RA, or mentor who inspired you?
KS: I had no clue in school what I truly wanted to do with my life or where I was going. If you told me 10 years ago that I would be doing Photography and Social Media Management for a career, I would’ve asked if you had the wrong person. My teacher Mrs. Campbell from Mission Middle School was one of the hardest working, kindest, and underappreciated women I have ever met. Teachers like that are rare. She truly believed in every single one of us and was unapologetically herself. An iconic woman. 

HC: Do you have any thoughts or opinions on female representation in education?
KS: Female educators deserve the world. They’re not just teachers—they’re an entire community’s sister, aunt, mother, shoulder to cry on, therapist, safe place, friend and caregiver. They deserve more respect.

HC: What positive changes do you hope to see in your life, in regard to women’s rights and empowerment?
KS: My wish is to see women stand up for themselves. Demand more. Refuse to accept less than they deserve. One day, we can hopefully come together to protect and love each other more often. We will never live in a perfect world, but we can create the best one we can. We have to stop being so mean, competitive and judgmental of one another. 

HC: What ways do you now (and in the future) hope to contribute to that positive change?
KS: Every day is a new challenge. I like to approach every aspect of my life with an open mind. Break social norms, be different and stand out. My goal is to always encourage other women to break out of their comfort zones, push their limits and to believe in themselves. Photography is such a rewarding career. When someone tells me that the photo I took makes them feel beautiful or that they’ve never seen themselves that way, my heart melts. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you can be the friend that someone’s never had.

HC: In regards to sustainability, how are you involved on campus or in your community?
KS: I’ve been a recycling fanatic since I was a little girl. The idea of our own planet losing its beauty because of our own destruction never sat right with me. I love thrifting or repurposing old clothes. Pinterest has a million and one DIY ideas for just about everything you thought you were going to throw out. My candle jar planter collection is coming along nicely. Sustainability isn’t “trendy” or a temporary hobby—it is a way of life that I encourage everyone to explore more. This planet is our home to take care of. We cannot take resources forever. Sustainability is the only way to buy Earth more time.

HC: How do you inspire those in your life to think about how their decisions impact the environment we live in?
KS: Leading by example! The best way to create an impact is by starting a conversation. Whether I’m traveling, working or spending time with loved ones, I do my best to lead by example. Thrifted finds can be some of the most heartfelt and inexpensive presents. Drinking from and reusing a glass water bottle, because let’s face it: it just doesn’t taste the same from plastic or aluminum. Ask for paper bags at the store; they hold more and they’re less harmful to the environment. We can’t change the world if we don’t start with ourselves.

Inspired by Katie’s story? Apply to the PINK GRL PWR Project to make your dreams a reality.