Being born a girl isn’t always easy, it’s a blessing but it also comes with ever-changing expectations, demands and social boundaries that no matter how hard you try to break them still spring back to whip you into submission.
Even with the benefit of a progressive attitude, education and life experience, I understand that the world still has a long way to go in creating equal opportunities, preventing discrimination, harassment and violence against women and girls.
For these reasons I will place certain safety constraints on my daughter as she grows for her own protection, without trying to clip her wings in the process. She will be exposed to different cultures, beliefs, environments, languages and educational opportunities. I will also ensure that she has a good understanding of the difference between authentic and fake, perception vs reality and the manipulations of the media.
Since the advent of the Internet, social media and Smartphones it is even harder to escape unrealistic and idealistic, manufactured, Photoshopped and filtered, ‘keeping up with Jones’ contrived perfect life’, images and content that are leading to higher levels of depression and body image problems amongst teenagers and young women.
The first step to happiness is to stop comparing your life to others. Be the best you. Teach your daughter self-love, self-awareness and self-control.
We are all searching for our village but more often than not our support systems are fractured, particularly in motherhood we become isolated, so we look to people in the media and celebrities to fill the void and compare our lives and successes against.
Unfortunately even the most influential or famous women in the world are under a spotlight of harsh criticism.
Just recently the French and American First Ladies, Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump were pitted against each other due to their fashion styles. Melania Trump was exalted as the epitome of chic while Brigitte was criticised for daring to wear short dresses that showed off her knobbly knees. The Daily Mail reported surely a woman of 64, should dress and act her age? In the same article it was noted Melania was a former swimwear model and Brigitte was called the French Barbie doll. The article was diminishing, condescending, patronising of their accomplishments and written by a woman.
PLATELL’S PEOPLE: What was Madame Macron wearing? http://dailym.ai/2ujwOeF
Why do we need to shame other women to lift ourselves up?
Every woman is unique, every woman is beautiful, regardless of where you were born, your hair colour, your fashion aesthetic, your accent, if you wear make up or like the au natural look, if you rock heels or Birkenstocks, if you bounce back after pregnancy or tuck your belly into high waisted pants. Ageing doesn’t decrease your value, believing you deserve less does.
Female empowerment is all about letting go of the shame, embracing our femininity, sexuality, intellect and equality with men.
We have to let go of the shame in our bodies, our bodily functions, our appearance, shame in the way we choose to mother our kids, our choices to stay at home or pursue a career, shame in the post baby bounce-back, shame in ageing, shame in being divorced, shame in not measuring up to an unattainable expectation of the perfect woman, wife, mother. We need to stop shaming each other and start supporting and encouraging instead.
If women stopped standing on each other’s shoulders to get ahead, stopped shaming and belittling each other’s actions and achievements, if we united the sisterhood and shared our successes then this would spin the balance of power in our favour much faster than waiting for men to give us a hand up.