Girl / Power

Maybe it's because it's an election year, and we have a powerful female for potential candidate for (almost) the first time ever. (Shirley Chisholm actually ran for the Democratic presidential nominee in 1968, if you didn't know.)

It could be the post-blizzard, all-lady congress a few weeks ago. Maybe it's my new shirt because new things are exciting and particularly so when they manage to be cute and have a strong message you believe it.

It might be the very great reaction I got from a recent Nylon piece I wrote on feminist podcasts, and those very lady-led podcasts themselves. Maybe I've just been swept into the BeyHive, or maybe it's my current binge catch-up of "Broad City", or my recent binge of season 2 of "Transparent", which makes me feel like that as a society we are very slowly getting somewhere with gender rights, female equality, and the rest.

Either way, in these first two months of the new year I've felt crazy inspired by other women, #GirlBosses, non-#GirlBosses, and gals who are just doing what they want and getting it done. It's awesome, amazing, and kind of makes me feel like I can do anything. Know why? It's because I can. (Cue Bey.) 

I hope you're in the same place as I am and are feeling equally inspired. In case you're not, may I suggest that you first blare some empowering tunes, then check out a few of the pro-lady pieces of content plus products that have inspired me as of late. I realize that there's an unnameable amount of inspiring content out there, so please send me suggestions for this and I'll continue to update:

This awesome newsletter (that I was thrilled to be included in last week) // The Canadian prime minister on why feminism matters // The 24 Hour Woman Calendar // All things Jessamyn Stanley // Companies with women are more profitable // "We are leaning in" // An informative podcast // This 11-year-old's book drive // A campaign to give female filmmakers a greater spotlight // This Elizabeth Lever print // These supportive communities: Local Creative, Girl Gift Gather, Babe Vibes, all things Rookie // This manual

Another note – and this is something that gets overlooked – but I feel very lucky to be loved by men who are equal partners, family members, and friends – and who encourage me day in and day out. Of course, that's the way it should always be, but we all know that's not the way it is for far, far, far too many women, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars for having the men in my life that I do.

Cue Bey, again. Just because.


The Good Girl Syndrome

For as long as I can remember, I've been eager to please: my parents, my teachers, my grandparents, and basically anyone I care about.

When I was 9-years-old my teacher handed me a letter for my parents. I'd been out sick for a few days, so naturally my first assumption was that I was in trouble for being sick. In trouble for being sick. Turns out, the letter was an invitation to test for a gifted class. (Spoiler alert: I didn't pass the test.) 

Perhaps needless to say, this trait has followed me into the working world and actually worsened as I've aged. Long gone are the days of receiving notes from teachers, here (to stay?) is the desire to please the boss, co-workers, and really just about anyone else I come in contact with whom I respect.

I've spent years putting in extra hours at work and on personal projects in hopes of getting that gold star at the end of the day. This isn't always detrimental – I enjoy my work and would never miss out on anything of real importance because of work, but it's more something that I consider to be a personal issue. When will I have ever worked enough hours or done enough good deeds in a day? When will it be good enough for them or, more importantly, for me? 

 

What's worse: without that gold star at the end of the day, I'm sometimes disappointed in myself and get that familiar feeling that I'm not. good. enough.

I've thought about this a lot. I considered that the "eager to please" trait might be an age thing that I'll grow out of, or an American thing. But I've come to realize that it's not.

In many cases, the overbearing eager-to-please gene is a female thing. 

I call it Good Girl Syndrome.

If you suffer from Good Girl Syndrome, then you know how awful it can be. How the end of the work day is met both with relief but also met with a gnawing feeling that you've disappointed...someone. 

Another part of the Syndrome: let's imagine something really does go wrong. Maybe you're late to an appointment or meeting, maybe you make a mistake or forget something important. The feeling of remorse from that is terrible and all-consuming. Situations where I've made some human, regular mistake will stay with me for days over the fear that I've let someone down or basically just look like a Bad Girl.

Obviously the first step to resolving a problem is admitting you have a problem, so I'm owning up to my issues with Good Girl Syndrome in hopes that other gals out there will do the same and at least take notice of the issue if they haven't before.

Maybe if we're all a little more supportive of each other, or can agree to work towards a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, we'll start to feel better about ourselves, the work that we're doing, and the days that are passing. At least that's what this Good Girl hopes.

If you're interested in reading more about women and confidence, I'd recommend this article from The Atlantic. I'd also love to hear your comments and thoughts on this, so please feel free to chime in below!


The Girls-Only Dress Code

There's an article going around the internet right now about a sixth grade girl's outfit.

Published on Slate, the article is written by a mother whose daughter was made to wear an oversized t-shirt because her (mighty cute, may I add) blue jean shorts didn't pass the school's dress code which stated that all shorts and skirts must be at fingertip length or longer. 

Who cares, right? Well, there's a big reason that you should:

By telling young girls that their bodies are distracting, we're telling them that it's their fault when a man (boy, in this case) can't avert his eyes and focus on his studies. It's their fault, and they should be ashamed and cover up. Or as it the article puts it, "Her school is normalizing the notion that girls’ bodies are distractions. That girls bear responsibility for boys’ reactions to their bodies."

Well said and so true, which I can attest to as a former sixth grade girl with a real interest in fashion. 

I was once a perpetual dress code violator. In fact, I was even given detention because of a short skirt. At my school, the teachers and administrators would stand in the hallway and monitor our behavior. Great for safety reasons, not great if you're a girl with shoulders.

Each time I was pulled aside by a teacher for violating the dress code, I would want to cry tears of anger and frustration.  At the time, I couldn't express, articulate, or even really understand what exactly it was that made me so angry, but years later it's clear. As a young girl interested in fashion – an industry where I later made my career – I had to put aside my main form of self-expression at a time when self-expression is paramount because the boys in my class supposedly couldn't keep their eyes off of my, or any other female's, shoulders or lower thighs.

How incredibly unfair, and just plain embarrassing this is for a young girl. 

I was a good student, never in trouble for anything, save for my scandalous clothing. The time I had detention for an oh-so-dangerous miniskirt, I had done nothing wrong outside of wearing a skirt. I was treated like a bad student, someone who had actually done something wrong. Not just worn a common piece of clothing. 

I realize that this might feel exaggerated and a little woe-is-me, but years later the misplacement of blame and plain old unfairness still sits with me. When I was in school, not all that long ago, there were no stories like this going viral around the internet, so we do have a start.

In the meantime, young gals, I say keep wearing those sleeveless shirts and shorts. We'll show them. 

I wrote about my struggle with feminism and fashion over on Bustle in How To Dress Like A Feminist. (I'm obsessed.) Read it for more insights on skirt length.