20 Questions with Ashley Olafsen

You know those people who are constantly on their game and just make the rest of us feel like potatoes? Yeah, meet Ashley Olafsen.

Only, Ashley doesn’t make us feel like potatoes at all. Instead, her drive and positivity radiates toward each lucky soul she encounters. She’s got that rare charm that makes her passion contagious, not competitive.

A freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ashley is the co-founder of MOVE (Motivate. Overcome. Value. Empower.), a company which promotes self-confidence and body positivity. She has co-lead over 25 empowerment workshops throughout New England and co-directed a 5-day summer program. When she’s not filming must-watch YouTube videos (think: “Why We Need Sex Education” and “The Problem with Valuing Male Pleasure Over Female Pleasure”), Ashley is demonstrating her undeniable grace on the TEDx stage, or writing up a weekly newsletter. Still unimpressed? She is about to self-publish her 300-page book, Survival of the Prettiest.

So, we asked Ashley a few questions (like HOW?!) and here’s what she said.

HC: So you wrote a book… Like whaaaat?! Details!

AO: Yes!! It’s called Survival of the Prettiest and explains the gender, mental health, and sexualization crisis, but from a teenage perspective. It is basically just my friends and I sharing our personal experiences, backed up by research, with tips on how to become body positive, how to become confident, and much more!

HC: What’s your major?

AO: I am designing my own major and calling it “Empowerment Through Education.” I’m also trying to double major with Communications.

HC: What are you involved in on campus?

AO: I am part of Not Ready for Bedtime Players, which is a comedy troupe that deals with sexual health. I am also a tour guide and part of the Newman Center.

HC: What personal life moments led you to start writing and to co-found MOVE?

AO: I have had so much personal experience with these issues, and then a crazy God moment made me realize that giving workshops/speeches/summer programs is my calling. If you want to know more about my motivation, check out my latest YouTube video called “Why I Do What I Do :)

HC: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

AO: Only God knows that! Hopefully by then I’ll be co-running a completely booked summer program every week of the summer, and will have speaking engagements constantly, with several books published.

HC: What are the qualities you look for in a best friend?

AO: Someone who is able to have sincere and meaningful conversations right off the bat. Someone who is creative, supportive, and most importantly, thoughtful with their opinions.

HC: What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from working with so many lovely ladies?

AO: There’s a quote that says, “If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together.” That could not be more true to the work I do.

HC: What’s one book every Collegiette has to read?

AO: Survival of the Prettiest, AKA my up and coming book!

HC: Who is a famous role model of yours and why?

Emma Watson. She’s so badass! She’s well spoken, obviously intelligent, and you can tell she genuinely wants to learn as much about feminism as possible.

HC: What are your goals for college?

AO: My goals are honestly to focus on growing the work I do, as well as to take classes that will inspire me and help my growth as a person and intersectional feminist.

HC: How has the University of Massachusetts been a part of this whole process for you?

AO: The University of Massachusetts Amherst is allowing me to design my own major, which is pretty cool, and also offers classes that are teaching me so much!

HC: What is feminism to you?

AO: A movement that promotes the idea that everyone, regardless of gender, sex, or orientation, deserves to be treated equally.

HC: Which quote is currently giving you all the feels?

AO: Martin Luther King’s "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” is an exceptionally beautiful quote and life motto.

HC: If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why?

AO: Hmm probably Paris, because I just really want to sit in cute coffee shops and create art in the city of love.

HC: Were you always this self-confident?

AO: Absolutely not!! That’s why I give workshops - I know what a difference self-confidence makes.

HC: What’s your current walk-to-class song?

AO: "Cameo Lover" By Kimbra. Such a jam!

HC: In your opinion, what’s the biggest problem facing high school girls?

AO: This is actually the question that we open workshops with, and the first thing we have girls answer!! I think the biggest problem is probably a lack of confidence, being that confidence unlocks potential.

HC: Is it different for college women?

AO: I’m actually not sure. I don’t think I have enough experience speaking with college women yet to say.

HC: Is there something you wish everyone knew about feminism?

AO: YES! I wish that everyone knew that feminism actually benefits men and that feminism DOES address men's issues (such as suicide, paternity and court cases, etc.).

HC: How can we follow your journey? What should we be looking out for in the near future?

AO: Sign up for my weekly newsletter on http://www.ashleyolafsen.com/ and follow me on Insta at @ashleyolafsen! You’re guaranteed book info, YouTube videos, and much more.


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6