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They are women, hear them roar: DLHS students film ‘Laker Live’ segment on women’s empowerment

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Detroit Lakes High School students (from left) Justine Lawrence, Sidney Lundberg, Anneka Lindstrom and Cora Okeson recently created a video segment on "Women's Empowerment" for the school's newsmagazine, "Laker Live." (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)2 / 2

Women's empowerment is an idea that has been around since at least the late 19th century, when the female half of the world's population first began seeking the right to vote. In the 1970s, the movement reached a crescendo, as radio-friendly anthems like Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and Aretha Franklin's "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." hit the airwaves.

In the past few years of the 21st century, however, the empowerment of women has taken on renewed resonance, as girls and women around the globe began to fight back in earnest, and speak out publicly — and loudly — against such issues as body shaming, sexual harassment and abuse, gender stereotyping and wage inequality.

This fall, four members of Mary Kvebak's mass media class at Detroit Lakes High School added their voices — and those of about 100 other girls and women at the school — to the chorus, by creating a short segment on "Women's Empowerment" for the school's "Laker Live" video newsmagazine.

Taking their cue from Brynn Elliott's song, "You Might Not Like Me," Cora Okeson, Anneka Lindstrom, Sidney Lundberg and Justine Lawrence began talking to female students and staff across the district, asking them to hold up one of a series of positively-themed posters and say the words out loud: "I Am Strong." "I Am Different." "I Am Brave." "I Am Unique." "I Am Silly.

"I Am Awesome." "We Are Strong, Independent Women."

"There's probably at least 100 people on there," said Lindstrom.

"We wanted to include everybody," Lundberg explained.

"They're all different grades and ages," Okeson added.

"And there's teachers in it, too," Lawrence said.

They filmed these short segments and put them together with some video footage of girls competing in various sports like gymnastics, swimming and golf to create the segment, which uses Elliott's song as the soundtrack.

"Our teacher (Kvebak) brought the song to us, and we thought it was a good idea (to use it)," Lundberg said.

The song is about a romantic breakup, but it turns the genre on its head a bit, confronting the man with his insecurity: "If you don't like girls that are faster than you, and if you don't like girls that are stronger than you, and if you don't like girls that are smarter than you... you might not like me."

So the words on each poster "have a positive message," Lawrence said.

"They focus on what girls are most insecure about," added Okeson — i.e., their looks, their brains, their athleticism — and how they should be proud of who they are.

"The idea was to show our young girls, from elementary to adult age, that your self esteem and self worth isn't dependent upon what anyone else thinks of you," Kvebak explained. "The girls did a great job of showcasing so many different women and girls in the school, and using them to promote the idea that our students should believe in themselves and build each other up."

"Some of them asked for specific posters," Lundberg said, "and some also said which ones they didn't want.

For instance, posters like "I Am Beautiful" and "I Am Smart" were less popular than those that said things like "I Am Strong" or "I Am Silly," because the girls didn't want to come across as conceited.

"It was funny to see all the different reactions," Lawrence said.

The finished video, on the other hand, seemed to draw mostly positive feedback.

"A lot of the girls were really happy to have been in it," said Lundberg.

"And even the ones who didn't want to be in it at first were happy they did it," Lindstrom added.

To view the Laker Live video on self esteem, go to the link at the top of this story.

All Laker Live segments are also archived on YouTube, using the tag @DLLakerLive.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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