RED Hearts: Q&A With Rachel Simmons of "Odd Girl Out"

Today's RED Hearts post is from Jordyn Turney, 22, in San Diego, CA, who had the pleasure of interviewing one of her favorite authors: I've been recommending Rachel Simmons' incredible Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls since I first read it years ago. This is a book that I can honestly say has changed my life -- and it’s just been revised and updated with a 2011 edition. Getting the chance to interview its author was crazy exciting for me.

Jordyn Turney: What made you want to focus on “girl bullying?” Rachel Simmons: When I was eight years old, my friend "Abby" made my friends run away from me. I never forgot how painful it was to come to school and feel so alone. In college, I heard a lot of people talking about similar heartbreaks they'd suffered at the hands of girls. When I went looking for research on the topic, there was almost nothing! Crazy, right? Because there are, well, a LOT of mean girls out there. So I decided to start doing interview myself, and everyone had a story to tell.

JT: What’s the key to having healthy female friendships? RS: I think there are three things every girl should aspire to in order to have great relationships. First, stay connected to your feelings and thoughts. If you find yourself saying "I don't know" a lot, you might be disconnecting from the things you feel strongest about. If you're the kind of girl who tends to go with the flow and do what other people want, you might end up getting taken advantage of by other people.

Second, practice honesty in your relationships. That doesn't mean saying every little thing that comes into your mind, but being able to be real with a friend when something's up and you need to share. It takes practice to get good at speaking your truth well—so go easy on yourself, and don't expect to be perfect at it the first time. But don't give up, either!

Third, make sure you know your own boundaries in a relationship—the point at which you're not cool with something, or where you really feel uncomfortable with how someone acts or treats you. No matter how much you love someone, there are limits to what anyone can fairly tolerate.

JT: What advice do you have for anyone who’s gone through female bullying experiences? RS: The most important thing is never to give up on other girls and women. I've met so many people who say, "I don't trust girls. My only friends are guys." I think that is a tragedy. Women and girls make amazing friends, and their companionship gives us something that no one else can. Have a little faith. You are not some freak who can't connect with girls, I swear. You just haven't met the right ones yet.

JT: Because this is I Heart Daily, we want to know -- what things are you "hearting" right now? RS: Yay, hearting! Music-wise I love Pandora like crazy, and specifically Meg Hutchinson, Adele, and The xx right now. In books, A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. I'm not super-fashion-y, but I did just buy a very cute blood orange down-to-my-toes dress by DVF that I can't wait to wear. And I hearted working all summer at Girls Leadership Institute Summer Camp with nearly 200 incredible teen girls!

Red hearts RED Hearts guest poster Jordyn Turney is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.