Q: I understand that I'm a Girl … That's Why! is the second book in the Fundamentally FemaleTM series. Were you surprised at the success you had with the first book?
Q: I understand that I’m a Girl … That’s Why! is the second book in the Fundamentally FemaleTM series. Were you surprised at the success you had with the first book?
Renee: I was surprised! When I received the call informing me that Fundamentally Female had been selected to be placed in the swag bags of both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, I almost peed my pants! It has won numerous awards and am excited to hear from so many across the globe who found joy in the many stories, quotes and design.
Q: What sparked the idea of releasing a follow up book, focusing on the age range of 12 – 18 year olds?
Renee: So many people asked what I was going to do next! In thinking of what would be next, I couldn’t help to think back over the years that I have had to defend myself and explain my femininity away to justify moving forward in sports, school, work and even lifestyle. I have two daughters and I heard those exact sentiments of “well, I’m a girl.” When I would hear that, I thought that those words needed an exclamation point behind it or a more confident tone instead of explaining it passively… and that is when I knew in my heart that I’m a Girl … That’s Why! was needed.
Q: Can you explain the unique title of this book?
Renee: What I truly wanted is for femininity to be a declarative sentence of pride instead of an explanation of why can or cannot do or be something. It isn’t an excuse… it’s a strong statement. I hope each of us find the confidence to look anyone who questions the premise, we confidently look them in the eye and say, because I’m a girl…THAT’S WHY!
Q: Tell me about the process of submissions for this project.
Renee: We actually opened the first call for submissions across the country in the fall of 2013. In that call, I was surprised to find a majority of the work to be very heavy and sad. I knew at that point, this project was more important than I realized. These young women were working through so many difficult bumps in their journey – I knew their stories would help others. After much thought, I reopened the submission process specifically calling out topic areas that could balance the incredible work already submitted, and after making final selections, I am proud of all of the contributors for sharing so much of themselves with the world.
Q: How would you describe the goal and purpose of I’m A Girl …
Renee: I feel that society tends to take a black and white perspective on femininity; either fight like a girl or question who are you to think you can grow up to be President? But there is so much in between…so many perspectives, opportunities, advancements, and challenges for women. My goal is that in the midst of it all, that we stop and take a moment to honor our uniqueness and differences, as that’s what makes us, us.
Q: Why do you think it is so different for Girls?
Renee: Girls are different! It is that simple. And as you grow into who you were created to be, if you are a little bit like me, you will find that women are different than men. We navigate the world differently, we think differently and we act differently. And that is ok. Actually that is good. We have a need to question, a need to understand what’s going on around us, and many times, internalize actions or dialogues.
Q: I understand that a portion of the proceeds from sales of I’m a Girl… are being donated across the country – can you tell me more about that?
Renee: I am a believer in giving back to the community in many ways and are excited to be working with groups who would like to partner with us to use this project as a vehicle for bringing dollars to organizations who amplify the voice of Girls in their community.
Q: Can you tell me more about the Ultimate Pajama Party?
Renee: I created the Ultimate Pajama Party as a way for individuals to make a difference to those who are touched by domestic violence. When I speak, I suggest that the hosting organization encourage individuals to bring a pair of pajamas to be donated to a local shelter. Providing the opportunity is often times all that one needs to take action. This summer, I am excited to report that the Ultimate Pajama Party has collected and donated more than 1 million pajamas to domestic violence shelters…and we are just getting started!
Q: Any last comments on the work you are doing next and what we can expect from you in the future?
Renee: I am not certain what will be my next calling, all I know is that I will continue to focus on helping to build each other up, to always strive to push boundaries, seek answers, follow our hearts and keep moving forward.
Q: Where can we find you to keep up with all the excitement of I’m A Girl… and the Ultimate Pajama Party?
Renee: You can find more information on all my initiatives at www.reneerongen.com or social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @reneerongen #ImAGirl.