There it is again, that word—feminist. In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2012 TEDx talk, adapted to a published essay in 2014, she relays her early justifications of the term. “At one point, I was a happy African feminist who does not hate men and likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself and not for men,” she says. “That word is so heavy with baggage—negative baggage.”
There are a million different brands of feminists. There are a million different ways to express your beliefs, structure your family, pursue your career, or put your pants on as a feminist. And guess what? Each of us is still a feminist.
If you're going to have a marathon, then why not choose a show with a strong female lead at its center? Thankfully, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all have plenty of shows that tell the stories of dynamic, diverse women who are strong in a myriad of ways.
International Women’s Day is not just a day for women, nor should it be. We need all genders rallying together to support one another, and for that enthusiasm to continue well beyond one day in March. This is the only way that we will drive true change and Press for Progress as this year’s International Women's Day theme demands.
Starting with yourself can be one of the most empowering steps of all in the fight for true equality, and you already have the tools.
New Year’s resolutions have been around for awhile. 4,000 years, to be specific. Ever since the Babylonians started making promises to their gods in exchange for a favorable year, we have been making deals with ourselves that in the new year we will be different- that we will be “better”. We have had 4,000 years to get really good at making New Year’s resolutions, and still only about 8% of us actually stick to them.
In fact, we are only three days into the second month of this “new year” and already I have heard several friends say that they have “given up”. I even had a friend describe herself as a “complete failure” because she hadn’t kept her resolution to go to the gym four times a week so far this year.
Sure, not achieving a goal that you have set for yourself is frustrating, and it’s natural to feel dejected. Just like anytime we are feeling like we have failed, we have a choice: we can let the feeling of failure overcome us and become a part of who we are, or we can objectively examine our situation and use it as yet another opportunity for self improvement.
If you find yourself feeling like you have failed on your quest for self-improvement in 2017, I would encourage you to ask yourself these few questions:
Why did I “fail”?
Let’s talk about the friend I mentioned earlier that feels like a “complete failure” just weeks into the new year. I asked her why she thought she had “failed” and she responded that she had only made it to the gym four times in a week once so far. At the time, she only had three weeks of data (out of the 52 that make up a year). When I reminded her that she still had 49 weeks to improve her score, it didn’t seem to help at all. She had already resolved herself to be a “complete failure” just three weeks in.
So, I tried another approach. I began to ask her, as I suggest that you do with yourself, what she had been doing over those three weeks. It turns out that things had really picked up at work in the new year (as they often do) and she had been working 11 hour days. On top of that, she had also been sick with a terrible cold. She didn’t feel as though she could take off work, so she was exhausted when she got home from work and opted for sleep rather than early morning workouts.
In other words, she absolutely hadn’t “failed” at anything. At all.
Is what I resolved to do something that will actually make me “better”?
At the end of December, Bustle surveyed 822 millennials (97% of which identified as female) how they feel about New Year’s resolutions. The results showed that millennial women overwhelmingly focus their resolutions in two areas: to lose weight and exercise more, and to become a better, happier person.
Based on my experience as a woman for the 29.5 years I’ve been alive, I can say with certainty that many women equate the ideas of losing weight to becoming a better, happier person. And while I am a proponent of exercise for many reasons, I also believe strongly that the association between “thinness” and “happiness” is one of the biggest issues plaguing women today.
So, ask yourself- is what you resolved something that will actually make you “better”? If your reasoning behind exercising more or focusing on eating healthy foods is to improve your mood, sleep, or overall quality of life, then yes- that counts as “better”. But if all you want is to fit into smaller jeans, I can tell you from personal experience that you will never be good enough.
Would you make that resolution for your best friend?
Perhaps the most powerful statistic that came from Bustle’s survey was the answer to their question: “What New Year’s resolution would you make for your best friend?”
Ask yourself this same question. Was what you resolved for your friend the same thing you resolved for yourself? Was it even in the same “resolution family”? According to Bustle, only two women of the 822 surveyed reported that they would want their friend to lose weight in 2017. In fact, most women want their friends to practice self care, be kinder to themselves, to go after what they want at work, and to stand up for themselves.
New research tells us that women often fight for others harder than they do themselves at work. We also know how much easier it can be to tell our friends they are special, beautiful, smart, and strong than it is to tell ourselves those same things.
But isn’t that what New Year’s resolutions are all about? Making ourselves better? If your resolution for your friend is kinder than the one you have for yourself, it might be time to change your thinking. You haven’t failed because you didn’t keep your resolution. You have only failed by choosing the wrong resolution at the beginning.
It’s no longer January 1- who cares? Now is as good a time as any to resolve to be better. Be better to yourself, kinder to yourself, and more forgiving with yourself. New year, new you- and you deserve it.
If you’re interested in spreading confidence and self-love with the women you work with, let us know.