It's so easy to get sucked up into the fantasy of an Instagram feed. Look at that, she's so pretty, her life is so great, now there is a woman that has her shit together. And we a are equal parts impressed, intimidated, and jealous of extremely successful women. Have you ever thought, wow, I wish I could be that successful? But then shut down the idea all together, because you've just put this complete stranger in a league entirely above you?
I think it's part culture, part society, and part human nature that we classify ourselves, sometimes without even realizing it. We have quietly decided exactly what we are capable of and what we deserve and then relegated ourselves to the corresponding corner. We see a wildly successful, confident woman and think, that could never be me because she simply has something I don't. But that's just not true.
Sure someone can have certain resources that put them at a perceived advantage, but, at the end of the day, it's about figuring out what you really want and believing that you deserve it. That you are every bit as capable and worthy. And then digging in with both heels and not backing down till you get it. This is the message I hear echoing from almost every single book and Instagram feed created by a successful woman. This is what is meant by the phrase empowered women empower women.
It's not about fighting for limited seats at the table, but about brining a folding chair and making your own damn place. Because you deserve to have the life you imagine. The one you dream of in the quiet hours before everyone else is awake. You are worthy and capable. And it does not matter what someone else thinks. Period. You know what sets your soul on fire, don't ever let someone steal your flame. Go out there and decide what it is you want and fight for it.
You want to to know the secret to success, to having it all, to living the life you dream of? It's refusing to quit. It's grabbing every available resource to learn and grow. It's pivoting when you hit a wall (or figuring out how you can climb over the damn thing). It's about evolving over and over and taking pride in your infinite growth and self discovery.
Don't be envious of those women in your Instagram feed, admire them, follow them, read the books they are reading, be inspired. You don't reach your dreams by sitting in the corner waiting for them to come to you. Do a Pinterest search for positive affirmations, find the ones that speak to you, stick them to your mirror, and say them every single day while brushing your teeth.
Decide what you want and commit to it with your whole heart. Take classes, read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, devour every available resource and then go out there and try. Be afraid and do it anyway. Fail and learn and grow. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Because behind every successful woman is herself.
Tomorrow is International Women's Day, and I'm here to drop my favorite F word, feminism. Have you run screaming for the hills yet? Too many people furrow their brows and get out of sorts when this particular f-bomb is dropped. Full disclosure, I was raised in a culture where "feminist" was synonymous with "radical, bra burning, man hating, liberal bitches". And it's a sad, tired, grossly misinformed idea that we're going to hit head on right now. First, feminism is about equality in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Too many people get their underpants in a twist and start railing when they hear the term equality because their assumption is that to give rights to one person means to take them away from another. And this simply isn't the case. Equality means that we share the same rights and privileges regardless of our gender, race, or sexual orientation.
I have had people tell me point blank, "But Deedre this is 2021, women are equal, this isn't a real problem anymore." So, I did some digging to see if maybe I was misinformed, maybe I had somehow misconstrued the whole issue, but in my search, I found a Gloria Steinem quote that pretty much hits the nail on the head, "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!"
My search started with the basics: what percentage of the United States population is female? The answer is roughly 51%. So, basically half of us here in the US are women. Ok. Next search, how many CEO's of fortune 500 companies are women? For those of you who might need clarification the Fortune 500 is an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue for their respective fiscal years. The list includes publicly held companies, along with privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. So out of 500 CEO's, I discovered that 38 are women. Thirty eight are women (and according to a CNN article that's a record number!) That is less than 8%.
What about the government? This is a bold year for women with our first ever female Vice President. There are 100 senators, 24 of them are women (and only 11 are people of color). There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 119 of them are women. So, to be clear, women make up 51% of the United States population and only 24% of Senators and 27% of Representatives (and these numbers are historically high).
And let's not leave out Hollywood, because, let's be honest, we've all consumed a lot of Netflix during this pandemic. The yearly Celluloid Ceiling report by San Diego State University found that women accounted for 16% of directors working on the 100 highest-grossing films in 2020, up from 12% in 2019 and only 4% in 2018. Martha M. Lauzen who conducted the study said, "We have now seen two consecutive years of substantial gains for female protagonists, indicating the beginning of a positive shift in representation. That said, it's important to note that moviegoers are still almost twice as likely to see a male character as a female character in a speaking role."
We are no doubt making immense positive strides in the right direction, but search after search produced the same results. In positions of power, decision making, money, politics, education - women are grossly underrepresented. And women of color are at an even more significant disadvantage. So I'll say it again, louder for the people at the back, equality means that we share the same rights and privileges regardless of our gender, race, or sexual orientation.
So how do we make more seats at the table? How do we make our voices heard? Be educated. Buy from women owned companies. Pay attention to politics, know who is running for office, and go vote. Watch films written and directed by women. Give your binge watching hours to movies and television with strong female leads. Read books written by women. Diversify your life. Follow social media accounts for women and women of color. And be sure to check out the official website for International Women's Day and support their 2021 campaign #ChooseToChallenge and "Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality."
Creating my own sunshine 🌞