This month, we’re partnering with Girls on the Run to bring you the stories of strong, amazing women who are actively involved in empowering initiatives. Hadleigh Painter is the first of four women that we’ll feature. This 16-year-old anti-bullying advocate, runner and model is one of the leaders of the RealityDance and RealityJam. Both work to reduce bullying through music and dance. As one of our youngest featured Muses, she has a unique perspective on self-acceptance among young people. We’re excited to kick off this series with Hadleigh, and to share her story with you!
- Age: 16
- Location: Charlotte, NC
- Field of Interest: Psychology, modeling, acting
- What Inspired You Today? My Followers
- What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? My eyes
Questions + Answers
Fill in the blank: Without Girls on the Run, I wouldn’t be ______________.
Without Girls on the Run, I wouldn’t be running varsity track or have found my passion in track.
You’re only 16, and you’ve already done such great work! Have you found that being surprisingly young is an advantage?
Most of the time, yes, because I’m getting a head start on my career, but at times it can hold me back from some opportunities that have age requirements.
As an anti-bullying advocate with a strong interest in psychology, what is one thing that we could all do to help prevent bullying?
Without a doubt the one thing we can all do to help prevent bullying is be empathetic.
Editors’ Note: If you’re struggling with bullying, there are many great resources out there to help you find support and share your story. If you need to talk to someone, here are a few resources: STOMP Out Bullying HelpChat Line or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As always, if it is an emergency, call 911.
There’s been a lot of talk about how social media can contribute to bullying or lead to filtered, unrealistic representations of our current life and state. Do you agree? How do women your age deal with that pressure?
I completely agree with the fact that social media can contribute to bullying and that social media creates unrealistic representations. I believe that people my age get exposed to the underside of social media and lose self-confidence due to it, and in extreme cases, sometimes develop mental illnesses as a result.
However, I believe that you can either let social media empower you to be your best you or drag you down and make you feel bad about yourself. It’s up to you to decide social media’s influence on you.
How has your interest in design and dance helped you to form a healthy self image? Did Girls on the Run help contribute to that?
Well, I don’t dance anymore, but I think the creativity involved in what I do has shown me how it’s our imperfections that make us who we are and what makes us all beautiful. Girls on the Run did contribute to this by helping me accept myself for who I am.
And an easy one to end on: what is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
On the weekends, I love adventuring to all kinds of abandoned places. I love the beauty found within them.