In the era of the "Me Too" movement and against a backdrop of sexual misconduct in the school district, a YouTube video has some wondering whether a candidate for the Board of Trustees is sending the wrong message on social media. Her video is called "How to Be Sexy." Danielle Ford sat down with Darcy Spears to explain why her message is really all about empowerment.
It's been viewed more than a million times, but now it's getting serious scrutiny as the self-described non-traditional candidate is running for school board trustee.
Watch the full interview with Danielle Ford in the video player at the end of this story.
"I initially searched for the videos because I started hearing other employees discussing it and saying they were kind of concerned," said Elena Rodriguez, CCSD Student Services Division.
Elena Rodriguez has worked for the district for decades. She's an outspoken advocate for change and accountability and regularly attends and speaks at school board meetings.
"As difficult as it is for women to climb the ladder of administration and so forth, and the issues that we've had in the past with employees being accused of sexual harassment and discrimination and so forth, I think it sends the wrong message," Rodriguez said.
Danielle Ford isn't shying away from her videos, but she does want to explain them. "As far as that particular video and the messaging of sexiness, I very much believe in empowering women to love their bodies and to be proud of who they are."
Danielle dropped out of high school when she became pregnant at age 17 and got her G.E.D. She says this video and others posted on her Young Moms Club website are designed to reach out to other teen moms who face the same stigma and challenges she did when she was a CCSD student.
Getting that message out is a serious effort for Ford. Drawing from her own personal experience she takes on the meaning of teen motherhood in the TedX talk from 2013.
"If we can offer support and encouragement to these girls rather than criticism and judgment, then we can all positively affect the lives of over 10 million people."
Drawing from her marketing experience, Danielle says she has to be creative to ensure teen moms get her message.
"And although I wouldn't use that same tagline and picture if I'm talking to different people, it worked! Because that video itself has over a million views. And it brought you here," Ford added.
Danielle's message to feel confident and powerful at any age as a woman is strong. But the context of that video ("How to Be Sexy") is how to get and keep a man. Some are questioning if that's a good message to send to young girls.
According to Ford, "Girls do want that! We all do! We all want a partner."
Though she posted these videos years before knowing she'd run for public office, she stands behind them all. Including a video entitled "Why I Let My 10-Year-Old Daughter Date." But as you'll hear in the video below, that "date" was really just a family outing to Chuck E. Cheese.
Ford said, "I feel like it's a really good thing to teach her now what a date is and how to be treated by boys."
She also has a video on "How to Get a Boyfriend... It's Seriously Just Like Shopping."
"When you watch the videos, the common theme is that we need to empower kids instead of criticizing them for having thoughts or whatever it is," Ford added.
But Rodriguez says there's a better way to empower young women. "For example, towards education--higher education--technical schools. There are many other ways to empower women versus just talking about how you can be sexy."
Long-time Trustee Carolyn Edwards, who's terming out of the spot Ford is running for, says trustees must live up to a higher standard and that includes social media.
Regarding her "How to Be Sexy" video, Danielle told us, "I wouldn't make that video--based on what I've heard--again, but I'm also not going to take it down."
In fact, she's got a link to her Young Moms Club videos on her candidate website. "If you want to get something you've never had, you have to elect people that you never have in the past."
Here's the full interview with Danielle Ford.