“Beauty is not flawless. It shines even through your flaws.”
The saying holds special significance for 17-year-old Louisa Petrillo, who has completed a unique project entitled “(Im)perfectly Me” to earn her Gold Award, the highest achievement in the Girl Scouts of America.
Petrillo’s effort hopes to teach “high school girls that how their body looks on the outside should not determine how they feel on the inside,” she explained. “I think that message is so important to evolving high schoolers because confidence and self-worth are crucial when it comes to learning to love yourself.”
It was a two-step process for Petrillo to address the issue of self-confidence in teenage girls. Initially, she created the Body Positivity Club, featuring a lecture series of inspiring speakers on the topic. “Basically I would email and coordinate with people who are, for example, makeup artists or yoga instructors or therapists, etc. and then have them come in to talk to the club and we would have sort of an open discussion with the club members,” she explained.
Next, the South Pasadena High junior created and hung hand-crafted signs with uplifting messages above the mirrors inside the high school girls’ bathroom, “where many girls go to make sure they look ‘pretty’ or ‘up to standards,’ said Petrillo. “I thought, ‘What if I could put a different message into these girls’ heads?’ So I spent hours painting quotes on pieces of wood and together with the janitor and my dad, we hung them up over the summer before school started [in the fall].”
Among the sayings included:
“Your face is not a mask. Don’t hide it. Your body is not a book. Don’t judge it.”
“A smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman’s body.”
“WARNING: Reflections in the mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty.”
“Don’t be afraid of being different. Be afraid of being the same.”
To complete and pay for the project, Petrillo raised $200 through a giant yard sale and collected another $90 selling Girl Scout Cookies.
“The last couple things I did for my project were teaching a body positivity patch to a younger troop and encouraging them to start their own Gold Award eventually too, “Petrillo said, noting that she also shared her project results at a South Pasadena Board of Education meeting.
For the local teen, Girl Scouts has always been a big part of her life since kindergarten when she began attending Arroyo Vista Elementary School. “I can’t remember not being a Girl Scout,” she said. “I think the best part about being a Girl Scout is having met the girls in my troop. Through working together in meetings, doing community service, and going on camping trips, being a part of this group of girls has taught me that there are so many people out there that I probably have a lot in common with and should branch myself out to meet.”
Those seeking the coveted Gold Award are asked, “to think critically, be open to multiple perspectives, investigate thoroughly, work cooperatively, and identify resources within and beyond their local communities.”
Looking back, after investing 89 hours, it appears Petrillo, a member of South Pasadena Troop 15441, has checked all the boxes to earn the coveted Gold Award.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said, flashing a bright smile. “I think a Gold Award is a really big achievement because it is done by one girl, which shows independence and motivation and it also has to be at least 80 hours of community service, which shows dedication. It also has to be an issue that the Girl Scout really cares about. Something like 6% of Girl Scouts worldwide end up actually going for and achieving a Gold Award, which is pretty crazy and really cool to be a part of that club if you ask me.”