This is to the girls who are just like me. We need to start owning our stories, not just accepting them but sharing them. Share our triumphs, hurdles and ways in which we have overcome battles. Let us create a dialogue amongst ourselves where we and only we can define who we are as individuals. We cannot continue to let others write our lives for us by telling us who we are and what we ought to be. No one can honestly say they remember who they were before people started to tell them who to be but you will always remember the day you STOP letting people tell you who you are and who you should be.
Throughout our entire lives we are faced with the pressures of what it is to be a suitable woman. Whether it be silencing our dreams, straightening our kinks, lightening our skin or internalizing all our pains and troubles; muffling our cries for the sake of honoring all the strong women who came before us. We are told not to speak loudly and often, not to share our troubles and grieve in silence. We are taught to become these angelic, beautiful creatures who are mute and invisible to each other. We are taught to see our fellow sisters as competitors and because of the way we have been socialized, that is actually how we deem each other. We are written to be such strong yet delicate and that we are to approach the world before us with passive smiles because excuses and complaints will get you absolutely no where in this world. It is much more important to be emotionally committed or sensitive as opposed to being diligent and ambitious. We are placed in the world where our ceilings are made of glass, only allowing us to get so far, creating the illusion of haven gotten exactly what we deserve based on how well we have behaved.
The strength of a women does not always lie in her ability to smile through the worst of times, her strength is not defined by how much she can physically and emotionally endure without complaints, her strength does not lie by her pretending to be fragile and as delicate as a rose’s petal. Her strength doesn’t lie in keeping the secrets of others she’s been told in confidence and it certainly does not lie in her silence and passivity. A women’s strength cannot be defined by anything or anyone she does not approve of. A women’s strength lies in her ability to come to terms with being human. There is no way the world can expect her to carry so much weight of responsibility on her shoulder’s alone. Her strength lies in her story, the way she paints herself and the way she works to be exactly who she wants to be with the acceptance of her spirit and mind and no one else’s. Her strength lies in the realization that she too can have anything she desires from the world. Her strength lies in the arch of her back, the spread of her lips and curve of her neck. As the late Maya Angelou recited blatantly, “I am a phenomenal woman, phenomenal woman that’s me.” Her story is phenomenal.
We cannot stand to be compared to our own sisters in the ongoing criticism of good woman versus bad woman. We cannot be compared because our spirits, mentalities and experiences are as unique as our fingerprints. And it is time to embrace our differences as well as respect them. We also need to understand that this dichotomus ideology between good and bad women we have been socialized to think in, could never be produced and influenced by a woman but only prescribed to us by the patriarchal systems that have etched their signatures inside our mindsets, branding the product of our thoughts of how we see ourselves and other women.
Your story, regardless of how different it may be from someone else’s, can inspire the woman next to you. Whether it be a story of domestic violence, sexual assault, heart break, the struggle of motherhood, street harassment, chronic illness, pressures to be beautiful, your dreams, your pain, and the unrealistic expectation to always deal with it all on your own. The stereotypical woman is one that is emotional, overly sensitive, nurturing to a fault and over all, unstable and sometimes even unbearable. Yet, regardless of all these prescribed attributes, women are dealt a great deal of social responsibilities both in the private and public spheres. We are given no other choice but to endure, to look into ourselves for the strength to pull through any and every situation. But, you are not alone. Let the voices of women, speak for women, let the experiences of women, inspire other women, let us find solace not in another woman’s story but in her courage to share it. Never underestimate the power of words and the power of reaching out; one woman to another.
No, we are not all one. We need to erase this false idea of a sisterhood where all women are one. What I am saying is, open yourself up to create a space where women can find a place of belonging but also the encouragement to manifest. The world’s forces and pressures can make us feel very small. Refuse the shrinkage of your voice and build up the energy and confidence to define yourself and pass the energy to the next girl who wishes to do the same.
This is for the girl who is just like me, who has been told to be quiet, to soften, to be anything but themselves. To the girl who may have spent hours frying her hair, trying to manipulate it’s texture to something that it will never be. This is to the girl who stayed up hours on end wondering who she could speak to, without judgement or blaming. This is for the girl who hates wasting a good outfit on a dull day but has no shame in wearing it the day after if she is not seen by anyone important. This is for the girl, who is no longer a girl but not yet a woman. This is for the girl who realized that I just quoted Britney Spears. This is for the girl who has second guessed herself, her talent and abilities. This is for the girl with the fire burning deep in her stomach, scorching butterflies and aches of insecurities because she is realizing that she is capable of much more than what she is said to be capable of. This is for the girl just like me; there are many more just like us, hungry to speak, hungry to listen, hungry to learn and grow. There is a world full of girls just like us, go out and meet them.