Women are often exposed to judgement – by our peers, people near to us and ourselves. While the judgement for sure can be positive and negative, it all influences our decisions and feelings – what we wear, how we express ourselves, often even how confident we feel about ourselves.
But is that really necessary? No, definitely not. Judgment, in form of feedback, can be a help. If you want to criticize my writing style, seriously, feel free to do so, I’ll be happy to improve. If you can correct my spelling at some point I won’t call you a hater. But no one should have the power over anyone else to make him feel less desirable, ridiculed or embarrassed – yet, this is what happens daily.
It’s time to change that. It’s time that we women realize how important it is to empower ourselves. And it’s time to understand that we are the only ones who can do this. While I have already addressed the issue about encouraging other women and being allies to one another, let us today talk about the woman you need to encourage the most – yourself.
You might say, “Yeah sure, I’ve heard THAT a million times already, but that’s not so easy with instagram-bodies, photo shop and sexist men (and women) all around – I have to justify myself all the time, when should I have time to empower myself?”
The answer? – Simple. Keep the following three truths in mind – and you won’t find yourself at the place of only justifying yourself all the time anymore, but right on top of your priority list – where you belong.
- You don’t have to believe the truths of other people or the truth of the majority, when you know that your view is the right one. I know, this can be super-hard sometimes – people are always so convinced that they are right, and often do not hesitate to make you feel stupid or belittled over it – not by using actual facts against you, but by saying stuff like “You don’t really mean that” implying that you, as a person, are invalid, if you would in fact believe that. They often get away without an argument, without a need to actual form an opinion, which is fine, if they want to live their lives like that. But it is not fine if you let yourself be influenced by that kind of behaviour and loose the trust in your abilities. Of course – when you don’t know something, be open for new experiences and knowledge, sure, that is strength too – but don’t believe the truth of others, just because you don’t want to discuss it further or don’t want to seem “different”. Knowledge and integrity, and even being different, is never a shame.
- You don’t need to defend yourself. Judging and gossiping can be fun, and yes, as I’ve stated already, we all know that we all do it. But the line between gossiping with your best friend on the one hand, and bodyshaming, mobbing, and embarrassing other girls constantly on the other hand is pretty thin. And we do have to be more considerate with our actions, because whether we want it or not, it does affect and influence other people too. Actually, let me stress this point. While every one of us will probably always be judged, you need to stop defending yourself – in front of others and in front of yourself too. This is extremely counterproductive behaviour. It doesn’t matter of which area of our lives we are talking about – fashion, social media or sexuality (continue the list as long as you want). Let me give you some examples. I know women, thankfully I am not one of them, who need to drink something before going on the dancefloor, posting a cute selfie on instagram or having a one night stand. Don’t get me wrong – I am not speaking about “getting drunk” or “drinking until they have lost every feeling for reality”, but just about one fucking drink. And you know why? Because they need this drink to defend their actions in the morning. “Well I know I danced sexy, but I had this drink and you know how I am on wine!”. “Oh no, how could I have posted this picture, I always do SUCH silly things when I drink”. “Oh Janine, you know, I would NEVER have slept with him if I hadn’t had alcohol this evening”. – Sadly, I am very sure you know women who do the same – it is common. It is so little accepted in our society for women to be open, self-centered and sexual that we feel more safe with these and the many more excuses that we make up during our lifetime. This is, however, the exact opposite of empowering yourself! Stop defending your actions, if you feel they are right. Stop defending what you do or did, if you were happy at that moment. Stop defending your life choices to please any other person than yourself – your life is about you and no one else.
- You don’t owe them anything – not your time, your body, your attention, your love, your consideration, your care, your money, your inspiration, your integrity, your space. I wish I could make a full stop here – but it is too ingrained in our minds that we do owe other people these things. “If he buys you a drink, you have to talk to him”. “If he smiles at you, yo have to smile back, otherwise you are a bitch”. If he keeps asking you out, you at least have to make the effort of considering his offer, because he is SUCH a nice guy” (Yeah, we will talk about the “nice guy syndrome” some time soon too!). I call that bullshit. You are an independent, conscious, reasonable, intelligent, wonderful woman. You don’t owe anything to anyone. “But,” I hear you say, “what happens in official situations, am I not required to smile at my boss, my professor, my teacher?”. Well. Be reasonable. I am not saying be a disrespectful person. Treating another person with respect is a great asset and makes you more respectable as a person as well – all I am saying is that you don’t need to give anything to anyone if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Being respectful towards others and being self-confident and empowered is not a contradiction.
Today is Halloween. And maybe it is important for me to write this post today, because I can already see the facebook and instagram comments of people complaining about one or the other girls outfit being “too slutty”, “too open” or, worse, “inviting”. But maybe I’ve just had generally enough of other people thinking they’re entitled to form a hateful judgement or belittle women in their existence.
Whatever the reason, if I hadn’t stopped listening to others and started empowering myself I wouldn’t be the woman I am today – and I am pretty damn happy with that woman. I want you to feel the same – which is why you have to stop caring about the others and start focusing on your own empowerment NOW!