“Women empowerment is letting women be who they want to be.”
Being a woman means anyone who identifies as a woman. That idea didn’t really come to me until college because I was from such a small, conservative town and there wasn’t really any type of gender variation or a transgender student. Before that, I’ve always known ‘if you were born with a vagina, you’re a girl, if you’re born with a penis you’re a boy’. I understood gender variations briefly and my mom told me to accept it, but it didn’t click to me until I came to college. Women empowerment is letting women be who they want to be.
How I have personally experienced woman empowerment was through college. When I was a first-year student, I was surrounded by really strong women who I could look up to and who really taught me about self-love and body positivity and that it’s okay to talk about mental health. I’ve always looked up to these women because they were so unapologetic in their views. So, I really try to be like them for younger students. But, it actually comes with a lot of pressure because all of a sudden, I have people messaging me or commenting that I’m their hero or that I have a positive influence on them. It’s a great thing but it comes with a lot of pressure because not every day I feel this way. It’s really easy to feel body confident when my skin is clear, it’s summer, I’m tan and I’m eating fruit every day. It’s not so easy in the middle of winter, when your skin is breaking out and you have five papers due and you don’t feel like being nice that day. I think it’s important to practice what you preach but also practice self-healing.
Women need to be unified now more than ever, especially because of our current political climate, but that also means ALL women. It’s recognizing that ‘yes,’ we can all come together on certain women’s issues but also there’s so much intersectionality. A perfect example is that white women were able to vote first, then Asian women, then Hispanic women, and then black women. We all have similar goals but because of the systems set in place, we don’t all reach those goals at the same time, which is why we need to stay unified. I personally love the quote by Audre Lorde that states: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’ Remember that some of your ‘heroes’ are not necessarily heroes. Especially some suffragettes that were trying to vote for women’s rights did that by putting down their black sisters and brothers. So just be mindful of history, it’s okay to have heroes but look at them through a critical eye, always.