Let me begin by thanking those of you who consider me your equal, who stand beside me and support me as women. Who choose to see my strengths and not my many flaws. Who build me up every day. Thank you.
In my letter to the men of the world yesterday, I talked about the ways some men stereotype and belittle us, sometimes without even knowing they do so. As a couple of readers pointed out to me, we women do this as well when we claim that men “are not emotional” or respond with disdain or embarrassment to their tears. It seems that some of us (both men and women) think that the only emotion men should display is anger, which of course is problematic in many ways since it not only encourages me to suppress their other emotions but also gives, perhaps, too much lenience for the things we call “anger,” like abuse. So let’s do what we want the men to do for us – recognize that we are individuals with complex thought patterns and emotional lives. That’s as crucial to a man’s well-being a it to a woman’s.
Let me tell you, women, that all of who you are is beautiful. If you are emotional and tend to cry easily, as I do, then you are gorgeous. If you are more reserved, more analytical, as my mother was, you are lovely. If some days you rage and some days you ponder, you are amazing. There is no “right” way to be a woman – no standard of being you have to attain. You are beautiful because you are.
And that beauty does not rest on physicality, although you are beautiful in that way, too – trust me, I know. Our beauty comes from strength, a strength people discount often but is there nonetheless. The strength that lets us birth and rear children, bear up under the pain when that opportunity is not given to us, or stand strong when we have chosen another path. The strength that lets us stand up under centuries of devaluing, that has told us we should stay home and that, when we do, we are lesser, incapable, sheltered. The strength that says we can speak for ourselves and don’t need men to be mouthpieces – that we have never needed that, even if our culture thought we did.
We take all forms. CEOs and plumbers, stay-at-home moms and entrepreneurs, doctors and writers, scientists and teachers. All our choices are amazing, as long as they are ours. We must continue to fight to make our own choices, and we must own the choices we make or our acceptance of those others make for us, if we choose to stay silent. Our womanhood does not require us to be victims.
We are not inferior to men, no matter the voices that may tell us – however subtly – that we are. We are equal. Don’t ever forget that or believe the voices that tell you it’s not so. Instead, believe the voice that says, “I created you, just as you are, for all you can be. You are loved. Always. In Every Way. Forever.”
We need to remind ourselves of these things because we are told, daily, hourly, that we are not enough, not strong, not beautiful. We must speak more loudly than those voices. We need to not apologize for speaking.
We are beautiful. We are powerful. We are women.
With all my love,