Interview: Nikki Goldstein
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GirlForce, a non-fiction book and related website by Nikki Goldstein, encourages teen girls to be healthy: to find a healthy balance between school, work, family, and friends; to live well by eating healthful foods, exercising, resting, and reducing stress; to be self-confident and self-aware, each to a healthy degree. When I recently interviewed Nikki, we discussed all of these elements and more.
In your own words, what is GirlForce?
GirlForce is the spirit or energy of life that resides in every human. I call it GirlForce so it's easy for girls to relate to, but it's happiness, peace, vitality, energy and especially love. When girls connect to their GirlForce (through practices outlined in my books such as yoga, meditation self-loving pampering, being in nature, having fun etc) they glow with the love-energy inside – their GirlForce!
One of the GirlForces quizzes determines your body type - Air, Fire, or Earth - based on Ayurveda principles. I'm Fire. Which element are you?
I am an Earth girl. And this is an important point, because being an Earth girl (with curves), I always found my look was out of step with fashion. As a teenager I struggled with my body image but at the same time I refused to diet. Somewhere deep inside I was rebelling against the rigid mores of fashion which dictated a very limited ideal of beauty. As I became a woman and worked in magazines I petitioned my editors to break with the code (that skinny, white, blonde equals beauty) and they always refused - saying that the prevailing ideal was actually what sold magazines. GirlForce is my way of rewriting the code. As an Earth girl I always wanted permission just to be myself, curves and all! I hope that no matter what shape or size, skin colour, nationality girls will relate to my self-love message.
What advice do you have for multi-tasking super-busy girls who are finding it hard to achieve those balances?
What I really don't want to do is make GirlForce feel onerous in any way! Firstly, I never tell girls to diet! I never tell them to cut things out of their routines. Instead, I encourage them to gently add self-loving practices such as yoga, meditation, massage, a bit of exercise, healthy eating - so that in time, in a loving and gentle way, non-loving practices (such as eating junk food, not exercising, not resting, stressing out), simply fall away. I believe that we can find ways to make change fun and uplifting, rather than stressful and painful. Girls today are so busy and so pressured that I am looking for ways to take the pressure off rather than adding to it.
What are your favorite activities?
My favourite activities are yoga, sleeping, reading, hanging out with my friends and family, watching movies, eating out.
What makes you happy?
Happiness is something that comes and goes - it's not a constant state that can be captured. When I connect to my own GirlForce, or spirit, I am happy. It's something I try to remember to do as often as possible. As soon as I bring it to the forefront of my mind I experience happiness because I forget about my problems and am enveloped by the loving force of this energy. Loving and being loved makes me happy too.
You have an impressive resume, having written for magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan. As a beauty editor, do you find it difficult to find or write persuasive pieces about inner beauty vs. outer appearance?
I am very lucky that from the very beginning of my career in magazines I was supported in my "alternative" point of view. I determined I would only ever write articles that made women feel good about themselves. My way of working as a beauty editor has at times put me into conflict with different publishers but I have always maintained my integrity and I am proud to say that I have been rewarded for that stance. As a result, I have been able to write for brilliant editors and high-quality magazines and newspapers.
And in terms of whether it’s hard or easy to write persuasive pieces about inner versus out beauty, it’s as simple as this: I believe everyone is beautiful - we are all the same under the skin. Our individual challenge is to learn how to accept and celebrate our unique beauty. GirlForce is a daily practice that helps girls celebrate themselves - just the way they are.
How did you come to find Ayurveda (eye-ur-vee-dah)?
When I was 20 I contracted a very serious virus that put me into hospital and compromised my health. I discovered yoga and meditation as a way to regain health and strength and through my researches discovered that both yoga and meditation are branches of Ayurveda, the 5000 year old “life science” of India. Ayurveda was so easy to follow, had such common-sense principles and struck a chord with me that I wanted to share it. Since that time yoga and meditation have become completely mainstream. I believe it’s only a matter of time before the broader lifestyle principles in Ayurveda will gain broader acceptance.
Do you feel as though there are any major differences between the Australian and American expectations and perceptions of teen girls?
Essentially girls all over the world have the exact same issues, problems and dreams and goals. American and Australian teenage girls are concerned about bullying, boobs, boys, pimples, parents, friends and making their way in a complex world. I’ve talked to and surveyed many thousands of girls from both continents and the similarities far outweigh any differences.
I agree. What about the differences between the Australian and the American publishing markets?
In terms of publishing in both markets I can say that I have been incredibly fortunate to be supported by brilliant publishers who believe in the GirlForce message and want to share it with a generation of girls.
Do you have siblings? Do you have any children?
I have a younger brother and a younger sister. My sister was horribly bullied at school and it has continued to affect her. One of my reasons for writing GirlForce (and one of my subsequent books, Friends) was to combat bullying and improve relationship karma amongst girls. I also have a 5 year old daughter and I want her to grow up safe, secure and happy. I hope GirlForce will help girls to thrive in a complex and challenging world.
What inspired you to start gettoknowyourdaughter.com?
In 2005, I conducted a survey through the premier teen girl magazine, Girlfriend Magazine, and 14 thousand girls responded. To date this survey is the largest survey of teen girls ever conducted. We gained so much information and gleaned so many insights into this generation of teen girls that we wanted to share it with parents. gettoknowyourdaughter.com was a way to share the insights with parents and enable them to share their insights and issues with each other.
Would you ever consider writing a novel? Why or why not?
Next year I am launching my first picture book for young readers. It’s a gorgeous book and I can't wait to see it on the market. It was my way of dipping my toe into writing fiction. I have actually started writing a teen girl novel, which I hope will one day be published under the GirlForce umbrella. But it has a long way to go!
What are your ten favorite books?
I am a BIG reader so here are my all-time favourite books!
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- Women Who Run with the Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
- Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
- A Room with A View – E. M Forster
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
- The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
- North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
- Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
- The Razor's Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
- Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
To learn more about GirlForce, visit http://www.mygirlforce.com or http://www.girlforce.com.au
GirlForce was the non-fiction recommended read in the august 2009 issue of readergirlz.
Read my post about the GirlForce quizzes.
If you liked GirlForce, you'll also like Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You by Deborah Reber.