We are celebrating Women Wednesday with a guest post from Nina Grey on 15 Habits to Spread Female Empowerment. Grab your wine and popcorn and get to reading!
Hey guys, my name is Nina and I’m the face behind A gorgeous Soul | The Mindful Lifestyle Blog.
I started my blogging journey in 2017 after leaving the most stressful job I’ve ever had (if you’re wondering, it was in the events industry…so super long-hours, rarely any weekends, never enough manpower, difficult clients. You get the picture.)
Sadly, it was also a toxic working environment, which contributed to the start of a number of serious health issues for me. After quitting, I needed to learn how to take better care of myself. I began to research everything about personal well-being in order to find ways to treat my body and mind the best I could.
Apart from that, personal growth is another topic I’m very passionate about. This is why I write mostly about tips for mindful habits, self-love, and self-care to share the things that worked for me in the hopes it might help someone else.
BUT, I have a hard time limiting myself… so every now and then I also post some plant-based recipes or travel adventures 🙂
I feel super honored to contribute a piece to this week’s Women Wednesday! Thanks to the amazing ladies behind MyLifelines for asking me!
What does female empowerment mean to me?
For me, female empowerment isn’t just to have chances and access to power only men had before. It’s also not just about the ability to live an independent and self-determined life. Instead, empowerment means to make room for growth for both genders, for humankind.
My biggest wish is to live in a time where gender equality isn’t a topic anymore – where gender stereotypes such as “men like fast cars” and “women adore babies” no longer exist. Take me, for example: I LOVE techie stuff and cars. And cute babies. I know a lot of other women (and men) who have very diverse interests, too, which cannot be put in some kind of “gender box.”
I hope that, in the future, there won’t be anything “typically male or female” anymore. I hope it’s a world where male nurses and female astronauts aren’t the exception and considered completely normal.
I see slow change happening with people questioning gender biased kids’ toys, social norms and “typical” color schemes. That makes me SO happy 🙂
Apart from strong support from men, mutual respect and a much needed shift in perspective (female empowerment isn’t about hating men or taking something away from them, but about finding a balance between the genders!), we particularly need women creating opportunities, chances and a healthy environment for other women to thrive.
15 habits to spread female empowerment right away
That being said, I noticed that people often use the term “female empowerment” vaguely and without any actionable day-to-day advice.
That inspired me to compose a list with 15 habits and practical ideas on how we can feel more empowered on a daily basis AND help the women in our lives feel empowered as well.
It’s divided into 2 parts: Solo Action, which summarizes all habits we can adopt, develop and practice ourselves, and Group Work, which are habits for direct social interaction.
I hope you enjoy!
- Stand up for yourself and defend your opinion.
I know, this sounds way easier than it is. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve been called “loud”, “smart-ass”, “bossy,” or (even worse) dismissed… Telling me that I “don’t have a clue what I’m talking about” just for sharing my opinion or stating facts (not the alternative ones, the real ones.) My professional background is automotive-related, which is an industry a lot of men feel protective about – as if it’s only their playground. So, unfortunately the above described behavior used to happen quite often in (mostly male-dominated) meetings. It also occurs in social situations (I eventually got rid of these so-called friends), or even on dates (yep, those were REALLY bad!) It took me a very long time to understand that this was one way men tried to silence me – for no reason other than that I was a woman, and (in their limited universe) not supposed to have an opinion on certain matters. Sure, having an unpopular opinion isn’t much fun because we humans want to be liked by others and be part of a group. But, no one ever changed anything in the world by nodding and smiling consent.
- Cultivate self-respect and set healthy boundaries.
If you don’t respect yourself, why should anyone else? Set healthy boundaries by saying “NO” whenever needed. No matter if it’s personal, cultural or physical boundaries, it’s important to voice them so that others know your limits. Sticking to your boundaries is a big part of respecting yourself and helps a lot when it comes to situations where you need to stand up and defend your opinion.
- Accept yourself.
You’re beautiful the way you are. You are enough. All those things you don’t like about yourself, all the flaws, these make you unique. There’s no one in this world quite like you – and that’s amazing! Let’s embrace our imperfections and stop chasing after an unrealistic (and toxic) image of women. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a world one day where women don’t have to behave or look a certain way just because that’s what society (apparently) wants?
- Take care of yourself and make your wellbeing a priority.
If that’s a hair appointment or a manicure, go for it! If it means to chill on the couch with a book, go for it! If it’s a long walk through the forest, you guessed it: go for it! Whatever makes YOU happy (and not someone else). Make having “Me-Time” a habit, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.
- How about being physically strong?
Start taking martial arts, self-defense or boxing classes and you will feel so much more empowered and confident in no matter which situation. Because we’re not weak and don’t need a knight in shining armor to come to the rescue, right 🙂
- Boys won’t be boys.
No matter if you’re a mum yourself or have a nephew or godson: Help to raise the next generation of kind and compassionate men that will (a) love strong women, (b) see them as their equal, and (c) don’t feel intimidated by them! Obviously, we also have to empower the little girls in our lives – I’ve written a post about that here: “How To Empower Girls To Be Happy & Independent Women.”
- Watch your language (and other’s.)
It’s hard to ditch words that you have heard and maybe used your whole life, but it makes a huge difference in our everyday communication. For example: Have you ever noticed that a lot of insults towards men are either female body parts or some kind of pseudo feminine weakness? There are also archaic words to describe women which usually have some degrading character. Help to build awareness and make it clear that certain language should not be tolerated in our modern society.Wanna read more? Here’s an insightful article on why “nasty” is mostly used to insult women instead of men by JSTOR Daily: “Bad Language for Nasty Women (and Other Gendered Insults)”
- Give back.
That could happen in so many ways, e.g. mentoring young girls from less privileged backgrounds and being a role model for them. While at university, I used to mentor teenage girls that were about to fail their main school graduation. We were a group of volunteers and our project was to give these teenagers a safe haven, a new perspective as well as access to learn new skills. It got really tough from time to time, but I believe that it’s crucial to share access to knowledge (especially in male-dominated areas.) The girls of today are the potential female leaders of tomorrow. Maybe your company supports mentoring programs? Is there any local volunteer group you can join? Or do you wanna start one? 🙂
- Call sexist and misogynist behavior out.
Ugh, I’d be filthy rich for each time a guy told me that I shouldn’t be “so uptight”, “bitchy,” or “prudish” about some sexist shit he just threw at me. Or that it’s just supposed to be “funny” or “a joke.” No, it’s not. So please, dear sexist men, stop degrading us. It’s 2019 and time to take us seriously. Just because we wanna dress a certain way doesn’t mean you have the right to treat us like a piece of meat. We can dress sexy/classy/elegant/whatever just because we want to. We also can be out and about with our friends without having the urge to hook up with random guys. And, by the way, not that many women enjoy being objectified. Imagine that.
- Showcase and celebrate other women.
Yaaaaas, because empowered women empower women, right? We don’t need to be afraid of or be intimated by the success of others. Instead, let’s be proud of each other and use this as inspiration! Exactly like the queens here on MyLifelines do it every single week by portraying strong and powerful women with a purpose, which I’m so thankful for!
- “Let’s have a catfight,” said no one ever.
Especially in my professional life, I often notice that women tend to fight against each other instead of working together. We don’t build a unified entity, but rather a competition with each other – because we WANT to (whyyyyyy thoooooo???) Men are different. They work as a team and lift each other up ALL. THE. TIME. They build great (business) networks and can rely on them. They share information and scratch each other’s back. The next job or promotion could be just one phone call away. With that reality, it’s hardly surprising that there are so few female CEO’s out there, isn’t it? We need to work together in order to succeed- to have more role models and female senior leaders as inspiration. We need to bond more. Here’s an interesting Forbes article about that topic: “Why We Need More Authentic Women At Work”.
- Find your tribe and cultivate it.
Surround yourself with people who treat you as equal. Cultivate female friendships. In the end, who’s gonna understand you better than another woman (on a physical and mental level?) I will never listen to any guy trying to downplay my menstrual pain or – worse – mansplaining stuff like pregnancy and the excruciating pain of labor to me. Dude, you’ll never know what it’s like. NEVER. Pay an honest compliment to a woman you admire. Don’t gossip behind each other’s back and defend your friend if someone trashes her in front of you. Help to stop slut shaming, don’t stand by quietly but intervene. We live in an era where women shouldn’t be trashed for any of their sexual behavior and private choices. Especially if the very same choices are not only accepted for guys, but celebrated. We have to call people (men and other women) out on their B.S.
- Encourage the women in your life and have each other’s back.
To achieve great things, we need people who believe in us and who are there whenever the road gets bumpy. When’s the last time you have told your friend, sister, mother or daughter that you love and accept them as they are? That their dream goal might seem crazy to you but that you support them nonetheless? We can support each other in so many (even tiny) ways through sharing inspiring stories. That could happen through gifting powerful books (need ideas? How about “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai or “Becoming” by Michelle Obama?) or movie/series recommendations with strong female leads (I love “Hidden Figures”, “Good Wife”, “Jane, the Virgin” and “Grace & Frankie.”) It is only when we experience representation that we know that certain goals are realistic and achievable. This is why we need to share the stories of strong and powerful women who live a purposeful life (which can mean anything from mother to corporate businesswoman to scientist to entrepreneur to activist to professional athlete to artist etc.) so we can motivate other women, daughters, sisters, mothers and friends.
- Dolls before balls.
Yes, I googled that because I couldn’t think of a female equivalent of “bros before hoes” and liked that version best 🙂 Some dude is never more important than a really good and strong friendship. Make time for your girlfriends no matter if you’re in a relationship or not! And: Don’t betray each other just because a guy is trying to play you. So. Not. Worth. It!
- Keep it real and share your struggles.
Living in a world that is edited for the ‘gram isn’t easy. Everybody is pretty – all – the – time – and having one vacay after another on stunning islands with beautiful (and deserted, duh!) waterfalls. Yeah. Sure. In order to connect and to cultivate our tribe and to inspire, we also need to be authentic. And vulnerable.It’s much more fun to share the cool stuff, the success, etc. I get that. But, it’s so important to share the ups and downs as well. The challenges. The failures. Not just the picture perfect things. Here’s what’s gonna happen: People will respect you more and you will get surprising feedback from others who experienced the same. By opening up you’re able to connect on a deeper level.
So much lies in our responsibility and how we treat each other. It’s a relief and an amazing chance, because that means we can start acting right away!
“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?” ― Anaïs Nin
What’s your take on empowering habits? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂 And, if you wanna lead a mindful & happy lifestyle despite having a soul-sucking job, sign up to receive my “Mindful Lifestyle Guide” incl. a 30-day planner, so you can start tracking your new habits right away!