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I’m an ex-cop and certain habits have stayed with me. Notably, I tend to study the people I come in contact with. The way they act, what they might be thinking and how they may be feeling. It’s a habit borne from the self-preservation that kept me from getting hurt countless times while working the street.

So, while standing in the checkout line at Walgreen’s, I was doing what I tend to do. In this case I was studying the cashier. She appeared to be 18 or 19 years old, tallish, but otherwise not really remarkable physically. When she took the cash from my hand, that’s when I noticed her arms. She was a cutter. And a couple of her cuts looked fairly recent. Despite the marks on her arms she was pleasant and chatty during our transaction. So whatever was troubling her was obviously something that she was well-practiced at covering up.

I have a reputation as a tough guy, but seeing sad kids makes me sad too. And as I drove away from that store, I found myself thinking about what girls need. Admittedly, I was thinking about what I think they need. But it’s an opinion that comes from having been a father to three girls.

I believe that girls should be able to feel strong. Not just strong in their capabilities or strong in their convictions, but strong as in strong. Girls aren’t generally encouraged to connect with their physical selves the way that boys are. And that’s a shame.

If a girl can experience the kind of self-mastery that comes from doing things that she couldn’t do before; things which are difficult, or even a bit scary, then that experience would be powerful medicine indeed.

I used to think that complicated problems required complicated solutions. I don’t always think that way now. For girls who are bullied, girls who don’t feel smart enough or popular enough, those girls should have a place to go. A transformative place. A place where girls could begin the process of becoming strong. It could even be a place with weights and bars and someone to teach the proper way to use them. A place where feelings of weakness and doubt would eventually disappear.

Feeling strong is important. Strength is like armor; both physical and psychological. Strong girls are better able to make strong choices. And if you make strong choices consistently, you are well on your way to becoming amazing. And wouldn’t it be great if more girls felt like they were amazing? It just might change the world.

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