Venus and Serena Williams

Tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams have written a book Serving From the Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving, and Winning as a guide for teenage girls. Even though the Williams sisters seem to live a superstar lifestyle, they say they were never immune to typical teenage self-esteem issues.

"Growing up we had a lot of insecurities," Serena says. "Even now we still have so many insecurities. It's not like we're perfect. … That's why we wanted to get together and write a book for teenagers who deal with the same issues. [We wanted] to let them know that celebrities and stars, not only just us, but everyone has these issues as well."
Venus Williams

Venus says that to this day, she still works on coming out of her shell more, and looks to her sister, Serena, as a role model for self-confidence.

"I had a hard time making friends, because I was really shy, and I still am shy," Venus says. "That was one of the ways I always wanted to be like Serena. But you do have things that you struggle with. You can't be perfect in everything. I found out, sure, maybe I didn't have as many friends, but it was something that I could work on."
Jada Pinkett Smith

Inspired by her daughter Willow, Jada Pinkett Smith has written her first children's book, Girls Hold Up This World. She hopes it will help young girls everywhere to believe in their own power and their own beauty.

As a teen Jada says she struggled with feeling different and had a hard time with accepting her body.

"I'm so petite and being a black woman, you know, black men like a little [bigger body]!" Jada says. "So, you know, it just got to a point where I just had to learn how to love me. And as long as you love yourself, people have no choice but to accept what you are. That's what it comes down to."
Jada Pinkett Smith and Oprah

Jada says that out of all her accolades and accomplishments, she prides herself most on being a mother. But like most mothers, she realizes it's becoming harder and harder to protect our daughters in today's society.

"I do treasure [motherhood] the most," Jada says. "It's the most challenging job I have. It's very difficult. Especially now raising children because they're bombarded with so much information. … It's about starting with planting those little seeds of self-esteem. We need to start giving our young girls affirming messages. That's what my grandmother did for me. She would always tell me, 'Jada, you can do whatever.'"
Dr. Robin Smith

One 17-year-old on the show thinks of herself as "a hideous beast." Another girl describes herself as overweight and says that she eats because "it's something to do other than crying."

Dr. Robin Smith has been counseling teenage girls for over 17 years. She says that feelings of low self-worth are empty spaces that need to be filled not with food, but with "something rich and affirming that reminds you of your beauty." Self-affirmation is helpful, she says, but it only goes skin deep. "You've got to get something that goes to the core of the "cancer."" Dr. Smith tells the girls that their sense of value has to come from the inside out.

And what about well-meaning mothers who try to help their daughters by pointing out extra pounds and other physical imperfections that they believe need to be fixed? "Hear this message," Dr. Smith says, "There's enough in [your daughter's] world that's already chipping away at her sense of being enough. … We say we do it because we care. But you know what? I say, 'Don't love her so much that way.' Let's find another way so that she really leaves your encounters feeling strong and good and proud about who she is."
Jada Pinkett Smith

At the age of 16, Melissa says she's already had sex with eight boys. "I was sleeping with them because I thought that it would make them like me more and I wanted the attention. But then other girls started to spread ugly rumors about me. They said I was a slut and a whore. It got so bad I had to switch to a new school. Right now I'm trying not to have sex with my new boyfriend, but I worry that I won't be able to say no to the pressure I'm feeling to do it."

Jada says that she relates to Melissa's story. "This is an issue I had to deal with from a very young age," she says. "You're not alone. You're not a slut. You're not a whore. This can be worked out and overcome."
Dr. Robin Smith

"You're trying to get your hunger needs met," Dr. Smith tells Melissa. "What are you hungry for? To be loved? To be cared for? To feel special? These are not things to be ashamed of. You're asking a great question: 'How can I stop this?'"

Dr. Smith says that a lot of young girls are treating their bodies like trash cans. "Trash cans for what? For boys' sperm. For boys' insecurities. The boys come and drop their trash in our bodies. … It keeps going until we decide that we aren't receptacles for garbage. That my body is a temple; it's sacred. … I'm not the place that boys come and drop their sperm, their insecurity so they can pump their muscles up as I shrink down into nothing."
Kelly's surprise

Kelly says she is an insecure eighth grade student. "I'm 13 years old and I'm six feet tall," she says. "I wear a woman's 12 shoe. I have to buy men's shoes. I don't really have any friends at my school. The guys call me an ogre."

Kelly says there's only one thing that makes her feel good about herself. "Tennis makes me feel like I can accomplish anything I want," she says. "It makes me feel strong and confident. My role models are Venus and Serena Williams because they're both six feet tall."

The Oprah Winfrey Show wanted to give Kelly the chance to feel like a champion. She has no idea that her ultimate tennis fantasy is about to come true! After the limo drops Kelly off at the famed Nasdaq Tennis Center, Nike dresses her from head to toe to look like a pro. Finally, her life-long heroes arrive to surprise her with a private lesson she'll never forget!

Kelly goes one-on-one against Venus and Serena on the court, and then the sisters share a few words of wisdom. "Stay with your dream team," Venus advises Kelly. "Everybody around us really believed in us and motivated us and all the people that didn't, we dropped them. You've got to know you're a beautiful person inside and out and you shouldn't let anyone tear that away."

Special thanks to Nike—Serena gave Kelly customed-made shoes that she helped design!
FROM: Venus, Serena and Jada Pinkett Smith on Dating, Sex and Weight
Published on March 30, 2005


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