From Gaten Matarazzo to Ariel Winter to Kheris Rogers, YouTubers, actors and youth alike shared messages of self-love and acceptance at the Tacoma Dome.
By Zoe Demarco
When youth believe in themselves and have the confidence to stand up for the causes they believe in, they can be an unstoppable force of good. That was the message shared at WE Day in the Tacoma Dome on April 18.
WE Day is the manifestation of the WE movement, bringing together a sea of young people who want to make the world a better place. It began when WE Charity, first founded by Craig Kielburger to take action against child labour, launched WE Schools to help empower youth to make the world a better place. Young people earn their ticket to attend WE Days across North America and the UK through the WE Schools program by taking action on one local and one global issue.
While rain drizzled from a grey sky outside the Tacoma Dome, inside the arena was buzzing with positive energy from thousands of young change-makers, all reaffirmed in their belief that their actions are creating a better world.
Inspirational speakers urged the audience to accept themselves and embrace their individual differences to become an unstoppable force for good.
Here are five messages of empowerment from the WE Day stage.
“When I look back on myself a few years ago, I see someone who was uncomfortable in her own skin. Someone who didn’t see herself as beautiful. But I was wrong. I am beautiful. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you—only what you think of yourself. So when you get home today, I want you to do something for me. Something I wish I had done years ago. I want you to look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful.” Because you are.”
“I knew I had to let people know they shouldn’t be afraid of showing their differences. I want to give people the confidence to be proud of their smiles, and everything else about them, too…I’m using my differences to make a difference. We’re all unique and different in our own way—use that uniqueness to drive your passion for change, and support others’ differences as well. When we support each other and work together, we can change the world. Stand out, be proud of who you are. The things that make you unique make you one in a million. Just like me.”
“I refused to be put in a box and let others limit me. I didn’t want to allow my difference to define who I was…Today, I encourage all of you to tell your own stories. Everyone deserves to be heard. When we listen to each other, we are able to understand the world the way someone else may see it. And I know when we do this, it will make the world a better place. What I’ve learned is that although I may not speak in the most conventional way, I still have a voice and my voice is important.”
“The beauty industry shouldn’t exist to point out what they think are our flaws and convince us to hide them. The beauty industry should exist to delight us, comfort us and make every person feel seen. But in order to make change, we have to break patterns…Whether you wear makeup or not, whether you remove your body hair or not, whatever you choose to do with your body is your choice. And by challenging the narrow standards that are widely accepted as normal, we can break the patterns that exist and reflect the reality of what beauty actually looks like: all of us.
“While we would all like to be one-hundred percent confident about ourselves 24/7, no one really ever is. You can’t be strong all the time. My journey to accepting myself for the way I am and having a healthy mindset has been a long process, and I still struggle with it some days. But one thing that really helped me get to where I am is therapy…Taking care of your mental health means having the courage to say, “I’m not okay” and not feeling ashamed about it. We can all have broken moments, but we are never broken people. Everyone needs help and support, and I want you all to know that it’s okay to reach out and ask, because when I did, it changed my life.”