Girl Talk: joining sisters in a safe social space online

It’s all about the the sisterhood. A safe online space where women can talk freely and, in some cases, become the sisters they didn’t previously have.

About a year ago, Juta Reine, 27, based in Edinburgh, started a Facebook group called Girl Talk. It now has more than 1800 members from all around the world and keeps growing.

Juta, whose background is in photography and currently works in a museum, said that as a social media user, she saw how women were often criticised and judged online.

“I wanted to open a space where women wouldn’t need to hide. Somewhere with no filters and where they could talk about anything. A safe place. It makes me really happy to see that they feel like that can talk and share their lives and experiences.”

Right now, social interaction takes place mostly through sites like Facebook. So having a place where she could still be online and share her thoughts and feelings was very important for Juta when creating the group.

“For me it is almost like a diary. I don’t need everyone’s reactions or comments. I just want to get it out. It’s like therapy almost.”

But Girl Talk’s success brings downsides too. “It is hard because I feel I have the responsibility of making sure everybody is happy. Of course people usually disagree with each other and because I am the first contact I am often pulled in every direction. That can get very tiring.”

As the creator and administrator of the group, it is Juta’s responsibility to make sure nobody is being bullied and she has to ensure no fake profiles join the group, helped by her friend Danni. “Everyday, we have at least 20 fake profiles that try to make it in the group.”

Girl Talk is a platform based on kindness, acceptance and support. Women in the group can be sure that whatever they share will be kept within its digital walls.

For Juta, it is the first thing she checks in the morning. “I don’t know what has happened over night; I don’t know what the girls need and if I can help them. Of course notifications are non-stop on my phone. I couldn’t say what I like more, either notifications all the time…or no notifications at all!”

And the group has become very important for Juta at a personal level. “I don’t have a sister but I feel like I do with some of the girls there.

“Girl hate needs to stop. In Girl Talk there is a sense of community, love and support that is very important. You don’t feel like you’ve been judged. There is a sense of belonging. Whenever they feel like they need to share something they know that there is always someone there.”

With the group getting bigger and bigger, Juta’s task has become more challenging but she says she always has the girls’ best interests at heart.

“Of course it is very challenging now to control who accesses the group and we have to filter every request. If someone wants to join and doesn’t know anybody in the group, they could message me and we’ll take it from there.”

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