I am a girl. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a niece. I am a friend. I am a cousin. I am a student. I am ambitious. I am optimistic. I am motivated. I am human. I am vulnerable. I am fierce. I am strong. I am a woman.
Many of you know of my passion for self-love. My drive to promote confidence and self-belief within girls and women of all ages, races, religions, body types, backgrounds and futures. To me, being not only comfortable within your own skin, but also being proud of who you are and having faith in what you can accomplish is the single most important thing in our world.
Without this faith and confidence, dreams are non-existant, and goals are unachieved.
The Feminist movement, and indeed society’s holistic movement for gender acceptance and equality, has catapulted the power and presence of women into the spotlight. We have generated important discussions, improved legislation and societal awareness and amplified the voices of women within the world. However, being in the spotlight does not equate to bringing about change. Many people argue that the gaps and issues between men and women and any/all minorities have been bridged, but this is simply not true.
While we have made improvements, we have a long, long way to go.
Today, in America, in 2016*;
– Women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man
– Women currently hold only 4.6% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies
– The Wage Gap between women and men increases as women age
– Among top-grossing, G-Rated Family Films, female characters are outnumbered by men 3 to 1
– In Film, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers are female
I could go on. I won’t.
Women continue to struggle through societal barriers and preconceived expectations of how we should act, dress, speak, dream, and live. This is deeper than body image – the portrayal of women within our world affects how decide to live our lives; with such a minute percentage of women in politics [and those few being slandered and critiqued for their appearance rather than their policies], young girls are dissuaded from wanting to enter the political sphere altogether. This skews America’s democracy, with our current population being compromised of 50.8% women, and our laws being made by a vast majority of men.
With actresses denied complex roles within films, or diverse and strong personalities on screen, they are forced to conform to the screenplays and projections of our world as seen, directed, cast and advertised by men. With such difficulty of attaining senior positions within major companies, young women and distinguished graduates are subconsciously taught to accept a second-tier position as their highest rung.
Those that claim that the glass ceiling has been broken, that gender stereotypes promote positive images, that women can be anything they set out to be – those people are wrong.
Whether they are wrong due to naivety, bias or because they don’t want to admit the truth, women and men are not equal. Progress is not perfection, and in the case of gender equality, progress is only one part of the equation.
The complexity of this issue, however, is recognized all over the world. There are both men and women fighting for equality and equal attention.
The solution cannot, and will not, be a simple one.
But we know the start.
Throughout film, advertisements, fiction, reality TV shows, gossip magazines, talk shows and much, much more – women are pitted against one another. They are shown to fight and degrade one another in order to better our outdo their ‘competition’. Women are seen as catty, superficial and ditzy, and any form of ambition or success is immediately associated with bitchiness or a lack of sympathetic presence.
If we want to break stereotypes – redefine women and defy the shallow and mediocre expectations that settle upon the gender of which we were born – we need to support one another.
As women, we all face the same struggles. We were all born into a time of complex gender expectations and struggles, and we are all attempting to navigate these same complexities in our own ways with our own goals.
We need to celebrate our sisters, our friends, strangers and acquaintances alike.
We should promote each others’ successes and compliment each others’ attributes.
It is through women empowering women, rather than competing and bitching, that we will prove to the media, and to the political sphere, and the sports world, and the economy, that women are full of potential.
Like all complicated issues, we much take a grassroots approach. We must consciously choose to uplift and empower all women around us, inspire each other to strive higher than we believed we were ‘allowed’ to, and to speak louder than we knew we could.
If we all go out today, and decide to work together rather than against, then we will – over time – shift societal and generational lessons.
If women empower women, we not only have the ability to make change;
Change will come.