I used to throw up my food.
There was a time in my life when carrots were off-limits because they were a starchy carbohydrate.
I stayed in a relationship for a year and a half when I knew he was cheating.
For decades, I had no confidence or self-worth.
It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I gained enough courage to share my truth (in my first book, Squats and Margaritas- a Journey to Finding Balance) and quickly learned that I was far from alone in my struggles. Every day, someone reaches out to me and shares that they struggled with the same issues that I did (they just never told anyone because, shame).
As powerful as it is for these woman to finally speak their truth, it saddens me that we all carried the shame of our secrets for years (decades, for some). Almost no one is willing to admit their struggle when they’re still in it. No one wants to look “broken” or “weak” so in your teenage years and twenties, you portray a life of having it all together.
No one struggles out loud.
But when is someone going to tell these girls that everyone is insecure? Even (and especially) that girl who is bullying you and acting like she’s better than you. Definitely her. When is someone going to tell them that they are far from alone in their preoccupation with their body image and whether or not people like them -that it’s all completely normal but you don’t learn that until you’re much older?
When you’re older, you realize that this tough time in your life was only a season and that it gets so much better!
Some teenagers, sadly, never learn this because they don’t see an end to their pain (and no one tells girls that they’re not alone and that this, too, shall pass). Beautiful lives end way too soon.
I recently realized that everything that I went through in my teenage years- the depression, anorexia, bulimia- all of it was purposeful. It all lead me to my life purpose of sharing my story to help inspire and empower other women. Without the struggle, I would not have found purpose. From my pain, came my purpose. From my mess, came my message.
In 2020, I was offered my own show.
Today, I share my message of triumph and transformation every week on an international platform.
What else could I do with this network?
Here’s what. I decided to create a safe space for teenage girls to receive support from women who have been through the same struggles that these girls are dealing with and have come out on the other side to find happiness and peace. I want to host nationwide retreats where these women can share their stories and provide support and mentorship to teen girls who are struggling with body image and self-worth.
I hired a business coach and explained the concept.
“I love it. This is so necessary,” she said, and then, “What do you want to call it?”
I had nothing.
“Erin Washington Foundation” was not an option- this is so much bigger than me.
I got my first tattoo when I was 19- not sure if it was to show my parents that I’m in charge now or because Britney Spears had one, but I chose a blue butterfly.
About a week after the Nashville retreat, I was sitting on my porch and a beautiful blue butterfly landed beside me. I had never even seen a blue butterfly before (only in pictures). It didn’t fly away.
The next morning, the blue butterfly was back on my doorstep. And the next day.
And the next day.
“OK, universe. I see you. I see it. But, what do I do with it,” I silently asked for weeks, as my butterfly visited daily- always in the same spot. Then, one day, on a call with my business coach, she brought up my non-profit.
“We have to get that up and running. What do we call it?”
And in that moment, it was so clear.
“Blue Butterfly,” I answered.
On September 21, 2022, Blue Butterfly Foundation (BBF) was established.
I never saw the butterfly again.
Blue Butterfly Foundation (BBF) will hold retreats nationwide for teenage girls to come together and listen to the stories of triumph from women who have struggled with body image, disordered eating, and feeling insecure and isolated. I want (need) these girls to know that they are not alone in whatever they are going through, so BBF will provide this support from inspiring women who have been through the same things.
My hope is that the girls who utilize BBF in their teen years will return as “blue butterflies” as adults, to share their story and support and empower the next generation of girls. This way, there will always be “blue butterflies” in the world.
As founder and CEO of BBF, I will be sharing my story in Washington, D.C. on International Women’s Day at the HerStory Summit. The event will take place at Fathom Gallery in Georgetown from Wednesday, March 8th-Saturday, March 11th and feature inspiring women sharing their stories to empower other women. Masters from the fields of entrepreneurship, brand building, spirituality, health & wellness and more will answer all of your questions on how they got to where they are now and explain how you can do it too!
For more information and to secure your ticket for this inspiring event, click here.
For more information on BBF, visit thebluebutterflies.org and follow @the_blue_butterflies_ on Instagram.