*Just so you know, I wrote 3 different intros for this post, and this was the most personal, so it stuck. I hope you like it.
This past weekend while I was home for my cousin’s wedding, I was getting ready for bed when I noticed my old high school scrapbooks (shout out to my mom for compiling those masterpieces) sitting up on my closet shelf. I hadn’t looked through them in a couple of years, so I thought I’d peruse through one while winding down for the night. And after flipping through page after page where I mentally berated myself for my hairstyle choices and my inability to sound intelligent when being interviewed for newspaper articles, I came across this photo.
Yes, ladies and gents, that’s me about 11 years ago as a high school senior. And that blanket I’m holding up? It’s the Mary Kay Ruhe award, given each year to the outstanding female athlete in the senior class. You know how Leo probably felt after winning his Oscar this year? Well, that’s how I felt winning that award. While most other girls dreamed of being homecoming or prom queen as a young girl, I dreamt of that blanket. Don’t get me wrong, a crown is always nice, but earning something you’ve put countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears into? Well, that’s a sense of accomplishment no beauty contest could ever replicate. And coming across that picture reminded me of something I had read over the winter and had put on the backburner to write about. Until now. But first, a little current events:
A couple of weeks ago the world got another glimpse of Kim Kardashian in the buff. I know, not a surprise, but the world sure had something to say about it. The media picked up on her nude Instagram selfie and blasted her. Celebrities were on both sides of the fence – some in support and others vehemently not. Here was her response:
“I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”
And here is my response to her response: This is complete bulls$!@. In a world filled with Sheryl Sandbergs, Malala Yousafzais, and Mindy Kahlings, I can’t fathom how empowerment comes from taking off your clothes and snapping a selfie. I can’t understand how someone can believe a picture of your ta-tas is a symbol of power. Or that we should be teaching our daughters this is what empowerment looks like. You know what that picture looks like? Something a 13 year-old boy will have fun with.
This winter after I binge-watched Parks and Rec on Netflix, I thought I’d check out Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please.” I figured that since she was highly entertaining on the show, her book would be as well. And it was. But she also said something that really resonated with me, and it was a quote I was reminded of while staring at my 18 year-old self in all her athletic glory. Here’s what Amy had to say:
In the book, Amy explains how she knew she was never going to be the most beautiful woman in the room, so she made her currency something else: humor. And guess what? That currency has not only made her extremely successful, but it also made her sexier than gorgeous hair ever would. What girl wouldn’t want to hang with Amy Poehler? What guy wouldn’t want to date her? She’s magnetic, and it’s because she made a choice to be more than just a pretty girl. That is my idea of empowerment. Not a naked selfie in a bathroom.
It saddens me that we women have made the highest valued currency our looks when it should be one of the least. I’m going to be honest, about 80% of the time I see a selfie, I think it’s just a girl grasping at the world for some compliments. And I hate that. I recently scrolled past a quote on Pinterest that read, “If you live off a man’s compliments, you’ll die from his criticism.” That’s who we’ve become. A generation of women dying for someone else to validate our worth based solely on how well our parents’ genes meshed. A generation concerned about how many likes their Instagram pictures can get or how sexy their Snapchat stories are.
Ladies, it’s time we remind ourselves and the world that we are more than just our faces. We are intelligent and witty and artistic and nurturing. We are starting businesses and raising children and making a difference in our world. We are supporting ourselves and challenging the status quo and are so much more than what our outer appearance will ever do us justice. Sometimes we lose that when confronted with what social media wants us to be. But this is who we really are. This is what matters.
So I challenge you to find your currency. Find what gives you self-fulfillment, whether someone else praises it or not. If you don’t, you will always rely on someone else to validate your self-worth, and that’s not what an independent lady looks like, my friends. And it’s not what I want for you.
I look back at myself as a high school senior, and I still see the same ambition in my eyes that I know flamed in hers. And while that manifested through school and sports back then, I’m doing the same with my career now. And I can’t begin to tell you how fulfilled writing this blog has left me, but it constantly helps me validate myself. Helping others on the path to financial security and inspiring them to succeed gives me a purpose, and I wouldn’t trade it for Kim K’s looks any day. Okay, maybe Jen Aniston’s but not Kim K’s.
If a fire scarred my face tomorrow, I know in my heart that I still have so much to offer this world. And so do the rest of you. We are more than our makeup and hair. Let’s remind the world of that.