GWEN Clubs provide support and a safe haven for youth to discuss pressing issues such
as body image, self-esteem, bullying, violence and more.
On Saturday, January 26, co-founders of the first GWEN Club, Notre Dame High
School students Tayce Taylor and Monique Candiff, spoke with Tess Cacciatore on
While Taylor and Candiff learned about GWEN through different channels, their
response to the organization and its mission was unanimous – “This is awesome!”
Enthused about the opportunity to spread GWEN’s message of love and acceptance
throughout their high school community, the two juniors founded the first GWEN
Club at Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles.
Like many girls these days, both Taylor and Candiff experienced issues related to
body image and self-esteem and feared being labeled fat by their peers. Taylor’s
parents were in the middle of a painful divorce and her body issues reflected
the tumult that was going on at home. Candiff struggled with depression and
participated in bodily self-harm. Both girls were able to move through their
struggles with the help and support of close friends and family.
“Especially living in Hollywood – movies and magazines make it difficult living
in a place that is poisonous for body image. It starts at such a young age — that’s
why it is so important to help teens, and girls especially, to feel confident and be
comfortable with themselves,” said Taylor.
By learning to open up and tell their stories, Taylor and Candiff let people love them
for who they were, and as a result, gained self-respect and heightened self-esteem.
“Don’t be afraid, someone will always be there to listen,” shared Candiff.
For parents who want to better understand if their child is in trouble, Taylor and
Candiff recommend keeping the lines of communication open. Teens need to talk
about what is going on in their lives, even if they appear standoffish or removed.
“Communication can be the key. It may be difficult sometimes to break through
the shell that has been created but it is worth the effort. Don’t give them too much
space,” said Candiff.
Taylor and Candiff were thrilled with the positive reaction to the GWEN Club. Their
first meeting, attended by both girls and boys, was a great success and plans are in
the works for additional GWEN CLUB activities.
“People were excited to be a part of something that will be big. GWEN CLUBS can
get out positive messages and help youth come out and speak about difficult and
painful issues. Even if they are not confident enough to join, they will see what
GWEN Clubs are doing and it will affect the way they think,” said Taylor.