I find it embarrassing that roughly four years ago I didn't want to associate myself with being a feminist. I didn't want people to think that I was being pushy, or too bold, or radical. I am so glad that I got over whatever it was in my system that made me feel that way. I am a proud feminist. I will stand up for all of the women who sacrifice before me. I will stand up for the women who don't have the strength, or ability, to be vocal right now.
I was watching The View the other morning, and they were talking about body shaming. I know a lot about the subject. Growing up reading Seventeen Magazine and ogling over celebrities that were half my size, I understood entirely how my body wasn't appreciated or catered for. That's rough as a teenager. But what they were saying was how incredible millennials are handling body shaming. We (I am a millennial) are the most accepting and open minded age bracket in terms of body acceptance and self love. I believe millennials' care for others in a way that other generations just don't.
Now, there's tons of feminist articles explaining why and how to be a contemporary feminist. You can research on your own the history of feminist movements as well as literature surrounding the subject. I want to talk about how we need to be supportive of all women.
In the past week, I've seen an increasing amount of articles and stories on the burkini ban that's currently happening in France. There are actual officials on the beaches there telling women that they can put on a "normal" bathing suit, or they must go. In extreme cases, they make the women strip nude! How?! I'm appalled and disgusted. What we don't understand, or what we are not accustomed to, does not mean that it is wrong.
In my upbringing, I've noticed that people like to talk down on others. I've noticed that women are competitive with other women. "Did you see what she was wearing?" "Do you know who she's dating?" "She's gained so much weight!" These statements don't seem to be coming from a good and sincere place. We want to belittle others so that we can feel better about ourself.
Instead, we should do quite the opposite. I'm thankful that my millennial crowd is already taking the reigns and supporting one another. If your girlfriend is dating someone that seems iffy, approach her, and care for her. Show her love and concern in a genuine way. If your girlfriend has lost a noticeable amount of weight, talk with her. Ask her how she is doing. Don't assume, don't talk behind her back, just be open with her. Tell her what you see. Show her love and support. If your friend gets a really awesome job, don't quietly whisper with your circle, questioning how she got it, go to her. Congratulate her. Hug her. Celebrate this victory.
I love seeing where women from my high school and collegiate career end up. They are traveling the world, continuing their educations, working hard as single mothers, writing musicals, auditioning endlessly, and so many other things. I love seeing them post about their journeys and show the world their successes. I love seeing their pride and joy.
I love uplifting women around me that are battling struggles that I will never understand. I'm a white woman. I will face some struggle, but I will never go through what my sisters of color have to. But I'm here for support. I'm here so that you may dress in the clothing of your choice. If you want to wear the clothes of your native lands, rich in cultural history and meaning, or if you want to expose your body and express those rights, I'm here for you. I support you. I respect whatever decision you choose to make.
I have a younger sister. I am a feminist for her. I want her to see that women can be women in whatever way that they please. Women come in so many different varieties, and all of them are sweet. Women are strong, and women can be leaders, and we can be advocates. Some women are in better and safer places, and can use their voices or positions of power to support others. However, we don't shame those that aren't here with us yet. I want my sister to grow and live in a world where women are equal to men. I want her to see the beauty in diversity and differences, both cultural and emotional. Women will be mean, and hard, and kind, and quiet, and energetic, and funny, and accomplished, and every adjective. I want my sister to develop this mindset so she can be a caring feminist as well.
Supporting women is easy. The only thing that I've had to do is research. I've had to learn how to be respectful in voicing my opinions and confronting my questions. Support the women around you. Be less judgmental and more accepting. Stand up for women. Stand up for yourself. Be strong.
Published by Emma Rathe