Women Left. Men Right.
Women: Be sexy and young. Tend to your gardens. Decorate.
Men: Make money. Build muscles and flex. Keep us safe.
The magazine rack at the airport was sending a clear message. In my parents’ generation, it made a certain amount of sense as many followed clear gender roles. Some of us think these roles don’t exist anymore, but clearly no one told the multi-million dollar magazine companies who definitely have an audience.
Looking at the rack, a few thoughts came to mind. The first is obvious- there is a serious amount of pressure on women. None of us look like these models, and in these photos the models don’t look like themselves. My next thought - there is a serious amount of pressure on men. Most men aren’t making millions. If they are coming close, they are doing it from a desk not weightlifting.
My next thoughts were more disturbing. Am I buying into this? And worse am I promoting it? I just spent days setting up a fashion boutique. I design and make jewelry.
Wait. Deep breath. No.
I started my creative work for many reasons, none of which involve being hot to snag a rich man.
Men and women have always worked together to make society function. The change in our generation is the roles don’t have to be defined. It takes a little more thought and coordination to figure out how each woman and man wants to live, but our partnerships, families, businesses, and communities benefit. Each person is better suited for his or her activity.
Breaking out of gender roles allows people to discover themselves.
After this process of self-discovery, we are in a position to express ourselves. Self-expression happens through what we say, what we do, and what we wear.
What you wear is self-expression.
You really want to wear black pleather pants with a leopard print top and big earrings. You don’t know why, they just speak to you. You may not even know what they are saying but you really want to find out.
But you can’t because ________________________________.
How do you usually fill in the blank?
I’m too fat.
I’m too skinny.
I’m too old.
I’m too young.
People will look at me.
People will talk about me.
My butt/arms/hips/waist/face aren’t the right size/shape.
Or was it one of my personal favorites?
I am too busy.
I don’t want to spend the money on myself.
I don’t have the right skin color.
(These require separate emails. Just too many layers.)
What would happen if you wore what you wanted?
What if this attitude spills into other aspects of your life? What if you started to say what you thought even if it made people uncomfortable? What if you spend time with someone that none of your friends understand? What would happen if you did something you thought would feel more like you?
Go for it.
Whatever it is, big or small, no matter how scary. The more you feel like yourself, the more confident you will be, the more you will uplift yourself and others.
We have all put ourselves down at some point, in some way. Right now in our country, there are people poised and ready to take advantage of any perceived weakness, self-doubt or complacency.
Express yourself and see what happens.