Love yourself, take risks, be your best self, etc. When it comes to life advice, we’ve heard it all before. It’s hard to reinvent the cultural phenomenon that is the self-help industry, but that’s exactly what writer Melissa Banigan has set out to do with her new book and project, Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self.
The book is an anthology of advice letters written by fifty inspirational women to their thirteen-year-old selves. It’s a unique collaboration of women who are changing the world, in both big and small ways, from all over the globe. These women are movers and shakers, homemakers, mothers and doers who paint an international portrait of what it’s like to be a woman today.
From British explorer Felicity Aston to Erika Baylor, the former Miss Black Deaf America, the diversity of the contributors spans a variety of races, religions, sexual orientation, economic status and cultures, resulting in a compelling collection of stories and lessons.
Melissa, a fiction writer, editor and marketer, is also a single mom to an almost thirteen-year-old daughter. She started this project to give her daughter, and other young women like her, access to a book that serves as a contemporary, relevant “guidebook” that doesn’t skirt around important issues.
“I believe that raising strong, independent, world-changing girls is as simple as finding them powerful women mentors,” says Melissa.
The book provides an honest, multicultural, no-holds-barred look at growing up today, addressing a broad range of themes such as global citizenship, body image, gender equality, sexuality, education, following dreams, etc.
The author explains, “My hope is that Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self will empower girls worldwideby showing them that they can all become successful, smart women, no matter where they live, their economic or social position, or their family or larger communities.”
Melissa’s story was shared with WYSK by her friend, colleague and contributor, Dr. Jessie Voigts who says, “Melissa inspires me with her vision, her global reach, her humility in the face of the magnitude of impact of this project, her tireless belief in the wisdom of women to teach, in her acceptance of the variety of experiences of womanhood, in her welcoming arms for young women to growing up. Truly, it takes a village, and the Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self project reminds me of that.”
This project offers a level of authenticity that is unique, and sets it apart from what’s expected when it comes to “self-help”. Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self holds the power to educate and empower girls through storytelling, which make this project and Melissa as WYSKy as it comes!
In addition to putting the book together, Melissa is also hosting global citizenship classes and workshops for teen girls and parents. Sessions are currently being held in New York with, with plans to eventually extend worldwide.