As women we are constantly under scrutiny for the choices we make. Every stage of womanhood comes with a new set of judgments. If we choose not to get married, we are shamed for not following the societal norm. If we marry, we have married at an age considered to be too young or too old. If we choose not to have a child, we are told we will certainly change our minds, if not we are selfish. If we choose to have children, we are criticized for wanting to have a profession. If we choose to stay at home, we are criticized for not being a working mom. If you’ve ever spent time with a group of women, you might have easily deduced that unfortunately, much of this negativity is coming from us. How can we be women that empower other women?
The first step in empowering those around you is to let go of the negativity that is holding you back. Many women fall into the trap of feeling inadequate when seeing other women succeed. The belief that your success can be measured on the same scale as someone else is a dangerous lie. No other woman has faced the same struggles as you, has achieved the same accomplishments, has dreamt the same dreams, or will have the same triumphs.
Although it may feel at times like you are falling behind, remember that there is no one path to success. Jealousy can keep us from truly appreciating and supporting the women around us. In the end we realize the emotion never really made sense to begin with.
We live in a world with more options than ever in regards to how our lives will unfold. Although having options can be emboldening, it can also be daunting. Every woman is trying to build a life that she can be proud of. Be open to the idea that this looks different for everyone. As women who believe in our right to choose how we live our lives, we must be cautious not to judge others who live in ways that are foreign to us. Instead, let us celebrate diversity and use our words to encourage.
All around us is a culture that breaks women down promoting rivalry, particularly in our youth. This hurtful ideology has had many consequences, one being low self esteem among young women. Groups like, “I Am That Girl” encourages girls to stick together. Some of the words taken from the initiation pledge include, “I promise to lift other girls up, have their backs, and make it safe for them to be exactly who they are. I’m on a mission to raise the standards for how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, and how we treat the world.” This is the pledge taken by young women all over the world when they join a chapter of I am That Girl online, at a high school, or in a college. Perhaps one of the most important steps we can take today is to help younger generations attain a healthy mindset.
If ever you question how much power your words, your actions, and the way you live your life have on others, just remember the amazing women who helped you get where you are today. Be a mentor to those who strive to reach what you have accomplished, be a role model to those who need the extra help, and remember to be happy with how far you’ve come. We cannot guide others with a dim flame. When women stand in unity, there truly is nothing that can’t be done.
In the words of French philosopher and praised feminist Simone De Beauvoir, “One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”
By: Bethany Thomas
The Illuminate Darkness Experiment (T.I.D.E)