The F-word

this is what a feminist looks like

It’s hard to believe now, but just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist.

I believed in equality. I was into “girl power,” in a Spice Girls sense of the phrase. And I was lucky enough to have had tons of great female role models who inspired me growing up.

So why didn’t I see myself in the word “feminist”?

We’re all well aware of the negative connotations associated with feminism. You’d think most people would understand by now how ridiculously off-base the “angry, hairy man-hater” stereotype is. But too often the comments section beneath articles written by or about a woman makes clear there are a lot of sexist trolls who have yet to die off. (Reminder to self: never read the comments if you want your faith in humanity to remain intact.)

Sadly, the trolls who perpetuate these stereotypes about feminists are pervasive. So is ignorance, which I once blissfully possessed when it came to these things. That unfortunate combination is why I shied away from the F-word. I didn’t think I needed feminism. And that makes me shudder to think about.

I’m the oldest of three sisters. They’re much younger than I am but are growing up fast. I remember the kinds of things girls were talking about when I was my sisters’ ages, and it wasn’t always exactly the most female-empowering language. (Why are 12-year-old girls calling each other “sluts” and “bitches” like it’s a compliment?)

There are lots of words used to put women down. I want my little sisters to know “feminist” isn’t one of the dirty ones.

That means it’s on me and everyone else—male or female—who believes in feminism to talk about it. A lot. The more we do that, the more de-stigmatized the word and concept becomes to those who are as skeptical and hesitant as I once was. Luckily, there are more platforms than ever to help us do just that, and there are plenty of people who get into more nuanced discussions than I can (at this relatively early point in my feminist career, anyway).

It’s a wide-ranging topic for sure, but a few examples of some of the things I’d like to talk more about are:

…and so many more.

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist? Why or why not?

I’d love to know about your relationship with the word and which women’s issues are close to your heart. Leave a note in the comments—or better yet, write your own post about it and send me a link when you do!

You are enough

Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

You ever feel like you miss the mark? Like you’re not smart, talented, likable, insert-your-own-adjective-here enough?

If you’re thinking “hell yes,” you’re human. If you’re thinking “no, never,” you’re lying.

Insecurity doesn’t discriminate—we’ve all been graced by its looming presence. For some it’s uncommon, but when it hits… it hits like a train. For others, it ebbs and flows in waves—tolerable, but annoying at best. For others still, it’s a constant. It’s almost unfair how some people seem wired to be in a ongoing state of self-doubt.

No matter which category you fall under, it’s worth hearing:

You are enough.

Right now. As you are. Where you are. You are enough.

You are everything you need. No one can take that away from you. And you certainly don’t need anyone else to to fill a void.

You contain multitudes.

You know that Walt Whitman poem, “Song of Myself”? That one line: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” It’s one of the most oft-quoted lines of the poem. (And that is one long poem.) It’s so simple yet so all-encompassing. And it resonates with us because it’s so damn true. If we contain multitudes, then we have the capacity to love ourselves and others. So what if those multitudes are messy and complicated? All the best artists’, geniuses’ and mavericks’ were.

So work with what you’ve got. If you’re on a path to self-improvement, start with what you have. Don’t wait for enlightenment or someone else to show you the way.

You have as much power as you give yourself. And you deserve a lot.