Today is International Women’s Day, which is meant to celebrate the achievements of women and highlight the progress that still needs to be made. A part of me can’t believe that it’s 2016 and that I just typed “to celebrate the achievements of women” for one day out of the calendar year.
Unfortunately, the reality is that I live in a world where I come across men who still treat women as secondary, as children who need to be watched, coddled, guided, and are incapable of making their own decisions. That I still see girls and women cower because they are afraid of physical, emotional, and mental abuse and in some cases, who are truly afraid for their lives. Who live in places where the legal system and societal structures are stacked against them. The lack of education, opportunity, and parity dooms them to be a part of a cycle where there is little hope.
There is hope, however, and even in my short life (relatively speaking) I have seen major strides. If you click on the Google doodle today, you will see wonderful examples of the progress that incredible women have made and continue to make. In my world, women in sports and science and technology have been close to my heart. I played on the boy’s teams as a kid, played rugby, and got paid to play American football.
I was a Coordinator/Director of Education Technology for most of my “first” career. I fought for (and won) pay equity for my female engineers who weren’t getting the same pay as their male counterparts. My female science colleagues are the best in their fields and continue to be strong role models for countless of girls and young women, many of whom entered the science fields because of them. I see more and more girls entering STEM fields and proudly watched as my female tech kids kicked butt in technology competitions.
You Are Already Pretty
Now in my second career, my work also includes working with women and girls (not exclusively but they make up about 90% of my clients). I recently had a young girl who wanted to lose weight so that she would “be pretty.” We talked about how she already is pretty and always will be—no matter what. We talked about building on good decisions that will enable her to build a healthy lifestyle for her, no one else; to be the best that she can be so she can do whatever she wants in life. It was heartbreaking, though, that this young girl equated beauty with looking a certain way but small wonder; all you have to do is turn on the television, listen to the radio, or pick up a magazine: women are objects that need to fit a certain profile to “be pretty.”
If You See Something, Say Something
I applaud all of the women and men out there who are doing great work to combat all of this. There are many and you, too, can be a part of the solution. Like the TSA says, if you see something, say something. We all have ways to improve lives of our fellow humans; women, girls, boys, and men.
A big part of my work is to promote sense in health; that there is no “one” look, diet, exercise plan, spiritual practice, and so forth. I want you to be the best you can be; to feel good, energetic, and kick butt in whatever you do. That means your approach in achieving this is as unique as you are and emotional and mental support is just as important as the physical guidance.
If anyone tells you anything different, send them to me. I’ll be happy to kick some butt on your behalf.