This Instagram Celebrates Empowering Stories From Influential Women Around The World

"I wanted to show women on social media that our voices can change the world."

"Everyone has a story to tell. It is up to us to allow those stories to be heard," Nadia Addesi told A Plus. 

The 24-year-old is the founder of You Run Like A Girl, a project which celebrates the empowering stories from influential women around the world. Each entry in the series features a portrait of a woman who has triumphed in spite of her personal struggles. Addesi shares their stories to inspire and motivate others to do better in their own lives.


"We live in a generation in which we are constantly being told how to act and how to look as women," Addesi said. "With everything negative going on in the world, I thought us women needed something to read that would make us feel good about ourselves by sending out a positive message. I wanted to show women on social media that our voices can change the world.  I wanted to challenge this stigma, and use my role as a woman, to show other women how amazing we are, despite any obstacle in our way." 

When Addesi started You Run Like A Girl in June 2017, she reached out to women she found inspiring online and asked them to share their struggles and triumphs. "Most women were very open to sharing their story with other women," Addesi said. "They made the process extremely easy and positive." Now that the project has grown on Instagram, some women reach out to Addesi directly in hopes of being included. 

From a special Olympics champion, to a burn survivor, to a woman battling cancer, You Run Like A Girl showcases diversity while simultaneously conveying that we're more alike than we are different. 

"The main goal of this project is to create a community where women feel safe to share their stories," Addesi said. "What I have found is that after every post, a community is formed based on individuals who are able to relate to the post."

Addesi hopes her project will help people further explore the ways women have overcome adversity and succeeded in their lives despite the inequality. "We share the posts that you wouldn't see every day, and something about the truth is refreshing for people to see. The inequalities women face on a daily basis are undeniable," she said. 

Mostly though, she just wants the project to be a space for women to share their stories and be heard. "The more we 'normalize' our differences, the more our society will become accepting of who we really are. If we did not have a voice, our stories would never be heard and we would never be able to work towards making a change," she said. "You never know what someone is going through until you give them the chance to tell you." 

Addesi has already seen the power sharing your story can have on someone else. 

"One woman reached out to me through email the other day and told me she has been following along the series since the beginning, and because of the other brave woman sharing their stories she finally got the strength in her to share her story on my account," she said. "The more stories we tell, the more society can see that women can do anything."

In addition, Addesi hopes that people will find the honesty refreshing. So much of what's on social media pressures girls and women to be "perfect." People tend to put their best selves online, even if it's not an accurate picture of what their lives are actually like. But many of those who scroll past those posts end up comparing their own lives to those seemingly perfect photos — and end up feeling less than. 

"I hope other people can learn that social media is not always about showing people what we want them to see. It is important to be authentically you, and stay true to who you are. Social media can be a form of advocacy, resistance and support," Addesi said. "We must start showing young girls growing up with social media that being different is good." 

Whether your platform is on the silver screen or on your social media page, women have the power to make a difference simply by speaking up. And we can encourage other women to do the same in the process. 

"If we want to make a change, we must continue to use our voices to make a change. We must continue to challenge the stigma, and we must continue to stick together," Addesi said. "Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women who have her back." 

Scroll through to read stories from some of the empowered women featured on You Run Like A Girl.

1. Isabella Turner, a transgender woman and LGBTQ+ advocate.

"I am most passionate about trans visibility and working towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community! With the recent attacks on the community around the world, I decided it was time to stand up and declare myself proudly, to show the youth of tomorrow that our vulnerabilities make us strong and that trans really is beautiful.

When I was younger, I never felt like I belonged anywhere, never quite felt right until I came across YouTube, and that is how I discovered who I really was. Nowadays there are so many incredible trans advocates on social media, but back then the only person I had to inspire me was @gigigorgeous, and it was her coming out video that changed my life for the better. I hope some day that I can offer the same inspiration to generations that follow me.

Throughout my life I have fallen victim to bullying, exclusion, and most recently my own mental health issues. I suffer with gender dysphoria, social anxiety, and general anxiety disorder — at least that's what the doctor tells me. To me, those things are only labels and I will not let them define my experience. I want everyone to know that labels do not define who you are, whether that be in terms of gender, race, sexuality or even when it comes to mental health. One of the biggest things I've noticed since coming out as trans is that everybody automatically assumes I'm attracted to men, but in reality, I'm am most happy when I don't label myself. Life is like an open bar, you get to make your own cocktail.

If I could live by one quote, it would be something that @lavernecox once told me when I reached out to her. She signed off her message by telling me to 'Stay in the love,' and that's something I've never forgotten. Surround yourself with the people and things you love and everything will be ok. Stay in the love!" 

2. Chiara D’Agostino, a model and breast cancer advocate.

"I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive form of breast cancer with no known cure, in 2014, a month after my dad passed away. I underwent chemotherapy, two single mastectomies, reconstruction with multiple implant infections and exchange surgeries, became metastatic, had radiation therapy, explant surgery, eight months of immunotherapy and am now on chemotherapy for the second time, losing my hair again.

I started modeling after my hair started growing in natural hues of grey, and curly. I'd always wanted to model and, after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, I decided to seize the moment and live my life fully, pushing aside any self doubts. 

I seize the moment, cry, scream, write, scribble, play, walk in nature, take medications prescribed by my doctor, meditate, do yoga, chi kung, art therapy, stress management, individual therapy, support group, attend seminars, conferences, speak at conferences, volunteer at breast cancer events, get massages, Reiki, acupuncture, energy healing, see a Shaman….. mostly, prayer, friends, love and playing with children and pets.

Listen to your gut/higher self. Network as much as possible. Be kind. Have clear boundaries and express them. Do good. Don't give up, but know when it's time to move on."

3. Marcela, a adventurous woman who lives life with passion.

"When I was 20 years old I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down, and [I] also lost my leg. I am an above the knee amputee as well (I wear a prosthetic). Fifteen years ago this tragic accident changed my life, but not my smile and my warrior spirit. (Actually I smile more now than before.) I've never let anything stop me. I accepted every challenge that came into my life. I focus on making myself better, not on thinking that I'm better. Most people call me handicapped, disabled woman, etc but I'm still a woman — a woman who lives life with passion, and is unstoppable.

I struggle every day. Life isn't always pink and purple. In fact, everyone struggles in some way. Life isn't perfect. I honestly do not focus much on my struggles, I just keep rolling. I really like to be involved and help the disabled community in any way I can. I think it's important to give hope and send a message that with/out disability everyone can have a great life.

Positivity is a mindset. Every day I try to live my life the best I can, and If I missed something that day, I continue living tomorrow. I never look back. Never. I have lived with my injuries for 15 years now, but during those years my injuries never defined the woman I am today. I'm adventurous and love to live life like there is no tomorrow. 

Love yourself first so you can give the best of you to your loved ones. Never give up and be an unstoppable human being." 

4. Katherine McCain, a freelance model, SheLift brand ambassador, and psychology student.

"When I was 16, I started starving myself because I wanted to have the 'perfect' body. I wanted to look perfect because I saw myself as already having something so obviously wrong with me. If I couldn't change the fact that I have one arm, I decided that I had to seek out perfection in any other way possible and seek acceptance from any and all peers. When the bullying got worse upon entering college, I felt the need to be accepted by society and my peers, and that led to poor decisions and coping mechanisms like drinking excessively, using drugs, starving myself, and occasionally partaking in casual sex. I felt like I had to be the girl that everyone thought was cool and up for anything just so that people would stop defining me as 'the girl with one arm,' or the girl that is 'pretty still despite having one arm/a disability.' 

When I was 19 years old, someone I trusted very closely called me a retard. He called me this out of pure anger and with the intention of hurting my feelings. This comment, unbeknownst to him, is something that has haunted me since and that stays with me on my bad days. 

Bullying ends when you see diversity in our society. If people are exposed more to differences, whatever they may be, they become normalized and that is my end goal. My other goal is to prove people wrong. I'm constantly underestimated, I think that's because of society's lack of education on being different and I want to show the world that I can do EVERYTHING that 'able-bodied' people can do. 

To parents reading this, educate your children. Tell them that not everyone is like them and that is okay. Normal even. Bullying and fear comes from a lack of understanding. Being born with one arm is the way that I am, just like I was born with brown hair and brown eyes. To anyone out there like me that worries about what others think — don't. Be proud of who you are and find your voice and your confidence. It's been a very difficult journey of finding self love but opening up has helped me a lot." 

To read more inspiring stories from incredible women, check out You Run Like A Girl's Instagram account.


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