12 Feb Women Empowering Women
Tomorrow, I am honored to be giving my first public speech on women empowerment to a group of adolescent females. I am honored, excited, and yes…even nervous. Here is my trial run.
To start, I would like to commend each and every one of you for being here. I find it admirable that those of you who came today, did. It’s a Saturday. You could be anywhere else. But instead, you’re here. You are thirsting for knowledge and growth. That’s commendable by anyone’s standards. Look around you. You are the leaders of this generation. You will be the one’s making a mark on history.
Let’s get raw for a minute. Let’s just speak the truth here. Being a teenager is hard. I mean, really hard. I don’t think there is one thing easy about it. Your body is changing. Your mentality is changing. You’re evolving. You’re becoming. So many things are going on, so many choices and decisions to make on a day to day basis.
I’m sure you have all heard the terms “showing up,” “being authentic,” being “transparent.” This is something that I have really noticed is being generated within our youth and I find it incredibly admirable. I am really noticing a high awareness in our as far as not living someone else’s life and being true to yourself.
We are each different, we are each different people. Even our genetic DNA is different. You may have brown eyes and you may have blue. We are all completely different in the way we think, the way we process information, the way we react in situations.
Many times when we are in a social situation, we don’t want to show our individualism. We don’t want to be called a geek, or a nerd, we don’t want to be left out or called prude.
When I was your age, the main thing I worried about was acceptance. It took me years, years, to truly find myself and undo the damage I did to myself as a teenager. Mentally, emotionally—learning how to find my own voice. I think that’s a HUGE thing for a lot of people. Recognizing if something doesn’t feel right to you—don’t just do it because the crowd is pressuring you.
I’m all about woman empowerment. I’m all about being yourself. Standing up for yourself. Standing up for others. If you see someone getting picked on—don’t just ignore it. Be the one who stands out and speaks up.
When you hear someone picking on someone- let’s say, “Oh there outfit is ugly” don’t be laughing or snickering- stick up for that person. Say, “Why are you picking on her” or “why do you care what she is wearing? So what if she chooses to dress that way.” So what if she chooses to sexualize herself. Or so what if she chooses to do this or that or whatever the case may be.
The thing of it is—that person has to be accountable for their own actions. They are responsible for themselves just as you are responsible for yourself.
Today, I want to focus on sisterhood and tribe. I want to talk about the strong bonds of friendship, love, and empowerment of the women all in this room.
Friendship is something I value and cherish deeply. True friends are always there with a shoulder to cry on, a mirror to shine your true reflection back on you when you need it the most, to cuss you out when you’re screwing up…You may fight, scream, laugh or cry…but in the end you will always know that person is there for you and has your best intentions at heart.
I hope every one of you has someone in your life you can truly consider a genuine friend. I have been blessed with the friendships that I’ve had throughout my life.
We are raised as females to be strong, independent women, who crave the love of a man to share our hopes, dreams, successes and failures with. While I am also a hopeless romantic hoping for that very thing; I am also acutely aware of how much the relationships you share with other women are vital to your happiness.
So often, as a society, we learn to tear other woman down. We learn to gossip. We learn to be mean girl cliques, making others go through an initiation process to be accepted. We hear it all the time: “OMG look what she is wearing. Um, did she really do her hair like that? Oh wow, she’s gotten really fat. Holy cow, she is way too skinny…”
The thing of it is that I think we tend to draw attention to other people when we are feeling the most insecure about ourselves. What we need to recognize is that we all have insecurities, we all have faults, we all have flaws. But as women, we should be empowering one another—we should be lifting each other up, we should be encouraging one another and celebrating one another’s success.
We’ve learned to be competitive.
I still see this today with adults stuck in this mindset. “Oh she’s making more money than I am.” Well, ok, but how much work did she put in to get there? What’s her education level compared to yours? If you want those things, then you have to attain them—you have to go out and get them. If you don’t, let’s say you want the money but you don’t want to go back to school—well then you’ve made the compromise and a decision. So you have to take responsibility for that and accept that.
It’s not a downfall. I’m sure you have many gifts that other person may not. So it’s just looking to come together as a community and as individuals in how we perceive one another. How we perceive ourselves.
We need to change the relationships between women. We should be lifting each other up, praising one another for our accomplishments, and reaching out for advice when we see someone excelling in something we desire.
I also believe the only way we can begin to change this is by showing solidarity as women as a whole. I think it begins by realizing that other girls are our allies—not our enemies.
I think it begins by building one another up instead of tearing one another down. I think it begins by believing we are all phenomenal women.
I believe in women. I believe in the power of sisterhood, friendship, and TRIBE. I believe in the healing spirit of women everywhere.
I am in awe of women in history, women of different cultures, women in literature, our mothers and ancestors who have gone before us and paved the way. I believe in you and me and the power we have to unlock the secrets of the past.
We are not evil seductresses who fed Adam the apple or Pandora’s Box full of secrecy and lies. Women over time have received a bad rap and as a result it has caused division and competition and a catty nature among women.
I have a desire to bring forth the ways of the old burning through my blood. I believe in coming full circle: maiden, mother, crone.
I believe within each of our breasts we carry the strength of warriors, goddesses, nurturers, and everything in between.
I want intimacy between women to blow to the four corners of the earth breathing in the elements of earth, wind, and fire.
We are here to belong, to connect, and to see into the depths of each other’s soul. But, how do we get there?
Let Me Tell You A Tale of Sisterhood, Friendship, and Tribe:
Long before the world was like we know it now, there existed a Wise and Mighty Tribe of ya-ya’s.
The ya-ya’s were a band of women, strong and beautiful, who roamed the country.
The stars in the sky loved them so much that they would dip down and allow the ya-ya’s to ride through the sky, so that they could travel all around the world.
Our mothers, who raised us, were the first ya-y’as and were most beautiful and loving. People adored them and no one messed with the tribal ya-y’as.
We also learned to love the inner gifts that naturally spring from being raised as a woman, which include charm, manners, quiet strength, and the ability to laugh at one’s self and not take things too seriously.
We remember that the meaning of life is about opening up, being in touch with our spirit and our feelings and finding the friendships of a lifetime.
The Lady of the Moon is our guardian and her silver light reflects the goodness in us all. She is here to teach us that the true mission of the ya-ya’s is to empower women and serve as a place to help us remember who and what we are.
We know that women are divine love, full of generosity, kindness, creativity, and wonder.
We wish to help women “remember” that these gifts are within each of us. We share them with others, so that our inner light can come out and shine.
The Lady of the Moon, knew that so many of us had been forced to move from our birth places and so she promised to be with us always. She also told us stories of how we would one day meet our other ya-ya sisters and be reunited.
We no longer live in our birth homes and we know that our town does not realize we are loyal, but, we the ya-ya’s, secretly know our history and we are loyal to our tribal sisters and the women who were there before us.
We come together in appreciation of women and sisterhood and celebrate how much joy there is in this world.
We believe that in coming together, if only for a few brief moments, that the spirit of the ya-ya restores us, renews us, and reminds us of the wonderful women that we are and were always meant to be.
Find your tribe and connect. Create crowns of glory to showcase your inner goddess and celebrate you femininity. Celebrate being a woman—a female. Honor your fellow sisters and not compete and tear one another down. Give each other Goddess names and dance under the light of the moon.
Today, I challenge you: Celebrate being a woman. Celebrate sisterhood. Uplift one another and stand strong together as a unified bond of one…
I would like to read you a beautiful poem written by Maya Angelou called Phenomenal Woman:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size. But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arm,s The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. I say, It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. Men themselves have wondered What they see in me. They try so much But they can’t touch My inner mystery. When I try to show them They say they still can’t see. I say, It’s in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile, The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. Now you understand Just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing It ought to make you proud. I say, It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need of my care, ‘Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.
We are all phenomenal women. We all carry a power that you may not yet recognize. As you get older and mature, your body is going to also grow and change in so many ways. As your body develops you are going to find that you will start drawing a lot of male attention and since we’re being honest here—you’re might actually enjoy that feeling. It feels good to be noticed. I’m not going to be one of those people here who says it doesn’t.
We all want to be desired and to be noticed. And because of this, I think a lot of women sexualize themselves because they want that attention, that approval, that appraisal, that validation that I am pretty. When if we’re going to be honest, a lot of time what that validation is—is a teenage boy just looking to get some. I mean, we’re all going to be honest here. We are all females here. We’re going to be real here. We’re going to go through this.
And there is going to maybe be times when you don’t feel you have the resources that you need to fall back on people. Or have someone to talk to. Maybe you don’t have the parents who talk openly about things that are happening or about sexuality. So for you, it is that much more important to surround yourself with a loving group (such as this) to be encouraged: it’s interactive, it’s communicating, it’s ricocheting off each other ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It’s about learning to respect yourself and to set boundaries. It’s making sure that before you take those steps in getting physical with a boyfriend or girlfriend—or whomever, that you take the time to get to know them and make them fall in love with your mind before anything physical comes into play.
Find your tribe. Make lasting friendships that count. And most importantly—never compromise yourself to make someone else happy.