It occurred to me earlier just how valuable female empowerment is. And no, I don’t mean the kind that bashes men. I disagree with the bashing of anyone, especially those I love and live with.
No, I mean the kind of empowerment that lifts women up and helps them to see the value in themselves, as well as those around them.
I was having a conversation with a friend earlier and we spoke about how hard it is to parent in today’s society. In a world where children, tweens and teens, young adults and even adults alike are bombarded with negative thinking from all angles. To raise a child in a society that says a size 6 for a tall woman is fat. Where the words “fat shaming” even exist. Where judging someone based on their outward appearance alone is completely acceptable. And where racism and prejudice, sexism and agism, religious persecution even exist at all.
To have my friend tell me, despite my 35 years, grey hair and extra 60 pounds since she last saw me, that I am beautiful and that I am doing a great job, is empowering. To have her say to me, “I understand where you’re coming from” when I talk about how in my youth I thought, at that size 6, that I was fat. I subscribed to the media’s message of “thin is in”. I subscribed to the shamers. The haters. But now, in my 35th year, I know and feel, truly, that it is not the outside that matters but the in. That’s not to say that we don’t feel the pressures to surrender to the scrutiny the media* would have us believe is real beauty. Even Dove, with its real beauty campaign, is targeted at a certain demographic. That being a size 8. I’d love to see them using women of ALL sizes, not just thin ones.
When my husband tells me that I am beautiful, I believe him. And, to his discredit, I feel that maybe sometimes he says that when it isn’t the truth. I know that I have gained, in the 8 years we’ve been together, 20 – 30 pounds. Physically, I am not the woman he fell in love with. And there’s a certain amount of guilt that goes with that. I feel badly for him that his wife is the size she is.
But to have a woman tell me, “It’s okay. You’re doing a great job. You look fantastic.” It makes me realize that the words my husband tells me are true. Because guess what? Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love was right. He doesn’t leave the room when I take my clothes off. He isn’t repulsed. Though I may feel, wrongly, that he should be. He isn’t and he loves me still, is attracted to me still, as I am to him.
Despite the negative thoughts I feed myself with.
Those thoughts aren’t nourishing for the body, soul, and mind.
It is time, ladies, that you realize the media hates you and wants you to hate yourself.
When you look in the mirror today, smile at yourself. Flirt with yourself. Ask yourself, “How YOU doin’??” If someone holds the door for you, say thank you. If someone offers to help you with your bags or the stroller, say thank you and accept the help graciously. Just because you CAN do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should have to.
And then, in turn, offer those same kindnesses to strangers. Because what better way to go through life than to love?
The power is not in the fact that you CAN, but the KNOWLEDGE that you can. Flaunting your power merely lowers your own worth.
* by media I mean magazines that photoshop their photos and tell us how to get thin in 25 days and how to fit into that summer dress. The shame should not be on women for their size but for the magazines who would have us believe we are less than we are just because we don’t fit into their mold.