For centuries women having been fighting for their rights, needs, voices, and pride. However, many women limit themselves, or in some cases, even portray themselves as weaker than they really are. It is time to stop pushing other fellow women away and become more aware and embrace our femininity and strength.
1. Don’t compare yourself to Other Women
Whether you are a child, teenager, grown woman, or senior citizen, all ages of women constantly compare themselves to other fellow women; feeling jealous, and making themselves feel horrible about who they are and their appearances. Although examining others and feeling jealous is inherently natural, the media and Western society tend to exaggerate jealousy between women through advertisements and film that feature unrealistic standards of “beauty.” The result is only a culture which feels insecure and unhappy with their bodies. Try to not compare yourself to fellow women, photo shopped models and actresses with an over-abundance of plastic surgery. After I stopped judging other girls around me, models from magazines, and famous stars, and comparing my body to theirs, I found myself a lot happier with the way I looked. I no longer had to diet, workout for two hours at a time or spend time in the mirror staring at my hips that just seemed “too wide” to me. Learn to love your body for all its curves, imperfections and blemishes.
2. Don’t Shape Happiness Around a Relationship
Having a companion (man or woman) should enhance and support your life, not define it. Many women feel as if they have to be in a relationship, but the truth is: relationships are not a necessity. You must love yourself before you can learn to love others. For too long, I have been in a stream of constant relationships; jumping from one to the other. However, it is only now that I figured out the reason why I have been doing this for so long; happiness. But what I also realized was that none of those relationships truly brought me internal happiness; you have to learn how to get that for yourself.
3. Do Not Feel Obligated to Follow Fashion Trends
Being independent and strong means dressing the way that you want, not following what is “popular.” Regardless of what people around you are wearing, use fashion as a way to express your mood, personal taste, and creativity. Make sure to dress for your body-type and make sure to wear clothing that will make you feel nothing but confident and beautiful. Freshman year in high school, I followed what my fellow peers wore and did. It was not until my junior and senior year when I started dressing the way I wanted to that I felt best. I not only love my body, but worship it, and try to see the best in it each and every day.
4. Respect Your Sexuality
Every woman, at some point in her lifetime, encounters men (or women) who intend to take advantage of her sexually. It is important to learn how to say “no” when you do not want to be involved with someone sexually, and say “yes” if it is what you want. If a man tries to force himself onto you make sure to tell somebody. Society has taught women to be ashamed for being raped or molested; people claim the victim was “asking for it” if she was dressed more provocatively. Remember to always report sexual assault or harassment. At work, I was constantly sexually harassed but never had the courage to say anything about it. Even now, I wish I did. Remember that no matter what you do, or who you are, you deserve respect too.
5. Stay Educated
Being educated and staying in touch with current events not only gives you knowledge but also allows others to view you as a more respected individual who takes pride not only in appearance but also in mental capabilities. Intelligence, although not the most important thing in a person, demonstrates a certain formality to a woman’s personal life. (We are not all looks, thanks for noticing.) After drowning myself within the world of feminism, I personally feel that I have something to invest my time in rather than other people’s petty problems. Find your passion, or a topic you find interesting and dive in.
6. Stand up for Yourself
Whether a man or a woman, you have to learn how to stick up for yourself and survive in the “real world” because it is not a pretty place, sorry to break it to you. Life is hard, and there are people who will walk all over you if you give them the chance. If someone has wronged you, make it clear; do not hide in the shadows and let it slide. As a child, I was always too shy to stand up for myself, or other people. But once I gained enough confidence, I was able to tell people when they were wrong or taking things too far. It is important to not back down to other people who are being vindictive even if you are uncomfortable.
7. Take Care of Yourself and Your Body
Personal strength is not only defined emotionally, but also physically, sexually, and mentally. Your body is your temple, your brain is your inner kingdom; remember to treat both with care. Whether this means exercising, eating healthy, meditating, or taking part in other activities that make you feel wholesome and healthy, make sure you respect all aspects of yourself; physically and emotionally. Sophomore year, I was really uncomfortable with my body and myself. However, after joining cross-country and losing weight, I felt happier about myself and more at ease. Also, after taking part in therapy, my brain was at ease as well.
8. Give to Others
One of the best ways to feel personal fulfillment is by giving back to other individuals, or your community. You do not have to be rich, or incredibly affluent to give back to those in need. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, animal shelter, or even just your local library; find things that appeal to you and your own interests. In my case, I met a seventy-seven year old man, Fred, who is now one of my closest friends. I not only bring him to the grocery store, but drive him around, spend time with him and clean his house.
Be stronger for yourself and future generations of girls to come!