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Finding Kind filmakers talks about why girls are mean | Q&A
Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter writer Celeste Gracey spoke with filmmaker Lauren Parsekian about her documentary, Finding Kind. A 25-year-old from California, she was one of a duo that filmed Finding Kind, a documentary shot in September 2009 on why girls are mean. She lead discussions last weekend at Issaquah and Skyline high schools.
Q: What are you trying to accomplish through “Finding Kind?”
A: Lauren Parsekian: Our goal is really to start a dialog to mend broken relationships. And to let girls know that they’re beautiful and worthy, and that having these competitive relationships is going to hurt them in the long run.
Our goal is to create a kinder culture of young girls.
Q: What motivated you to create the documentary?
A: I had a really traumatic experience in middle school. It brought me to the point of wanting to commit suicide, because of the bullying. That experience, at about seventh-grade, put the issue on my heart at a really young age.When I was a student at Pepperdine University, we were working on a documentary and I was really excited about the format of film and how it could speak out to different issues. I teamed up with Molly (Thompson). We had different film classes together. She told me she had a similar experience in high school. The two of us began shooting locally. It was through the stories that we were hearing that we decided to begin the Kind Campaign.
Q: What did you learn through making the film?
A: We learned that this is an issue that starts very young. At first, neither of us knew exactly quite how young. We’d go into elementary schools and talk to third and fourth graders who were dealing with issues that we didn’t think happened until middle school. That was really surprising.
We’ve talked to hundreds of women. We’ve seen how insecure our female culture is and really this sense of longing to be accepted.
In terms of filmmaking, being able to edit was the biggest learning process. It was really a truly amazing process.
Q: Why are girls mean to each other?
A: I don’t know that either of us have a direct answer to that, and we’ve gone to over 400 schools and organizations.
Every story is different. There isn’t really an exact reason or formula. I would definitely say some of the cases come from our insecurity. A lot of times it’s the adult figures who girls see at home. It also comes from the media messages they get and the examples of what they see on TV.
Q: How do you address cyber bullying?
A: We let girls know that bullying people online is permanent and it is just as hurtful as saying it to people’s faces. If you post inappropriate pictures of someone, it will it affect them later in life. A lot of times now people who are hiring look at people’s Facebook pages and things come up that someone may have stated about them years ago.
It has become so prevalent because it’s so easy and quick. When someone attacks through technology, they don’t have that person’s eyes in front of them, and they don’t have to look into their face and see how their actions are affecting people. It becomes so impersonal.
Q: At any point did you realize you were mean?
A: Molly and I are the first ones to admit when we do our seminars that we are on both sides of this. I’ve never intentionally tried to bring people down, if anything I’ve gone along with a popular group and partaken in gossip.
Q: For those who know a “mean girl” what would you have them say?
A: I think it’s really important that people realize there is a reason for why girls and people act the way we do.
Most of the time we sit down with a girl who may be the “mean girl” in a school, there is usually a different story, whether or not it’s abuse going on at home or insecurities. I can’t really blame girls for feeling insecure.
Be frank with girls in telling them that it’s not OK to hurt people. When you bully people you’re not just hurting other people you’re also hurting yourself. You see so many people have so much guilt. It’s important for them to know how it’s going to affect them (in the future).