'A Love Letter to Me' Aims to Inspire Young Women With Real Stories

By Jaclyn Bauer in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 4, 2014 4:30PM

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A Love Letter to Me: Building Healthy Self-Esteem for Women and Girls
is Petula V. Sankarsingh’s feminine empowerment experiment turned quasi-epistolary novella.

At its inception, A Love Letter to Me was an empowerment workshop for underprivileged adolescent girls, but, after the program took off, Sankarsingh decided to turn her concept into a book.

Sankarsingh asked “forty women to write about the hurdles they experienced from adolescence to middle age” in the hopes that their stories might help young women build greater self-esteem. Sankarsingh expands on this mission, stating that the goal of the compilation “is [for young readers] to set achievable personal, social and academic goals.”

Each contributor’s story is told in a different way: some are full letters to a younger self, while others are stories about past issues. Some women offer insight into what they learned from their experiences and how they’ve changed, while others simply tell stories and leave the lessons for the readers to interpret.

The book is divided into sections covering different eras of life as well as a variety of common women’s issues. Sankarsingh does not share much of her own story or experiences, but she does interject to speak about each writer's specific topic at hand, as well as to give the reader assignments at the end of each section.

Most of the assignments mirror the actual work being done in the book as Sankarsingh asks the reader to reflect on her past and/or future in relation to the topic.

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The insights offered in this collaborative work span from the intractability of making assumptions about other people’s happiness to the fight for gender equality among both women and men. Sankarsingh also discusses the importance of following your dreams, while focusing most actively on promoting self-love no matter what your circumstances.

Sankarsingh’s question: “is there a way to immunize ourselves and other women against the ‘epidemic’ of low self-esteem?” is a serious one with perhaps a bit of light now shed on it. Not to say that Sankarsingh’s book will change the way that all young women think about themselves or evaluate their experiences, but perhaps it can offer some motivation, inspiration and sense of relation.

We all experience hardship no matter our gender, race or economic status, and Sankarsingh’s book is a reminder that there is a future beyond that hardship: a future from which to look back on a time that was once so difficult.

Stop by Open Books this Sunday, October, 5 between 4 p.m.—6 p.m. to meet Sankarsingh and celebrate the book’s launch.