heart swan

Crystal Gornto says her life’s mission is to help women recognize their inner worth. At first glance, that might surprise you, because she looks like the living, breathing stereotype of the head cheerleader in high school. She’s got a Texan twang, a heart shaped face, and blonde Barbie doll features. She’s a mother of two young boys, and I could imagine her juggling PTA meetings and a full-time job, cooking family dinners, sending off not-belated birthday cards, and maintaining a matching mani-pedi all without breaking a sweat in casual Lululemon pants. You know the type. Super Mom. 

But Gornto claims that’s not how she feels. She says that like all women, she has a tape running in her head of the reasons she’s not good enough. Perhaps I can see that in her a bit. It’s a slight widening of her eyes, the perky lilt in her voice that belies an everything’s all rightness you can’t quite believe. She confides that she worries she’s not a good mother, that she works too much, doesn’t keep the house orderly. She knows she’s not alone, and  she watches her female friends and family fret the same way, running a tape of negativity through their heads.

Ten months ago, Gornto decided to quit her comfy job, liquidate her 401K, and devote herself to changing the negative messages. She wants to help women realize their self worth — it’s a lofty goal, so Gornto is starting small. She’s building an app.

Gornto is calling her app Heart Stories, and it’s sort of like FitBit meets Facebook for your soul. Users add ten or fewer people who they’ll share their stories with. You heard right — you’re capped at 10 friends! No socializing with the masses. Gornto wants women to connect with their closest true-blue buds, people they can be honest with, who will support them in their vulnerabilities and insecurities.

heart stories Women check in on the site and rate how much negative “noise” they feel that day by swiping their finger around a circle. All red means they feel like a useless, worthless, ugly, lazy, stupid, silly, tired, unlovable Eyeore. You know the feeling. Then women can see the circles of their friends and get an instant visual sense of how much the people they care about are beating themselves up that day.

The second part of the app is the Daily Truth, a question prompts the user to reflect on a certain aspect of her life – like love, order, or patience. For example: how has order impacted your life? Show us a picture of your personal chaos. Users have the option of writing a few sentences about how order impacts them, or taking a photo capturing the feeling.

Heart Stories hasn’t launched yet. The web app is close to completion, and Gornto is raising money on crowdsourcing site MoolaHoop to develop the android and iOS versions.

The idea of an app for intimacy might cause a certain amount of eye rolling. Granted, it’s a little cheesy, and a little sad that we’re all so busy we need an app for gaining support from friends and family. But I like it. I like the idea of a space where social can be intimate, and I want to use it with my mom and my sister. The three of us talk a lot about insecurity and self-esteem, and for a little while we tried writing one another every time the negative noise threatened to overwhelm us. But with different schedules, and a flood of daily emails, the effort died in a week.

I think many women have walked into a coffee or brunch with a girlfriend in the midst of self-loathing, and left buoyed by affirmations, connection and love. The problem is that we don’t always have time to squeeze those coffees, phone calls, or emails in, and we struggle to reach out to the people who can stop us from being mean to ourselves. Heart Stories turns that sort of connection into a game. I want to be able to pull out my phone, check in, and quickly see how the women in my life are doing.

As for the men in your life, well Heart Stories at the moment is marketed solely to the XX crowd, but I don’t see why a group of XYs couldn’t use the app too. It’s not like women are the only ones walking around struggling with self-esteem. That said, it seems unlikely that guys — no matter how much bro love they share — would confide their daily doubts with each other.

But, I’m not a man so what do I know?

[Image courtesy Flickr]