Last week I was meant to be clearing out my wardrobe, but instead I opted for some social media procrastination. After googling, instagraming, facebooking and instagramming half an hour away, I realised just how many positive woman’s name tags, hashtags and images I’d come across. Posts telling me to celebrate my body whatever its shape, to lead like a ‘girl boss’ and take time for myself as a mother.
This got me thinking. Have you ever heard a man leading like a ‘boy boss’? Ever heard him talk about ‘me time’? Ever seen a skinny girl posting #CelebrateMySize?
If you’re a woman, if you’re plus size or if you’re any minority, chances are you’ve faced some sort of discrimination. These labels seek to redress the balance, to reclaim the space, to switch a negative into a positive. Surely that’s a good thing?
However, there is a real risk that these terms become mere cliches devoid of any real meaning. Am I really a ‘fearless girl’ or did I just buy a branded T-shirt? And while we’re at it, why am I still a girl and not a woman?
Do these name tags actually deepen the discriminatory gulf? By celebrating our womanhood are we not underlining the fact that we need help? If we’re so strong, so beautiful, so successful why the need to tell everyone?
But clearly we do need help. In the UK, female pay is 17.3% lower than men’s. ‘Whitening’ a job application can offer a higher success rate. While being skinny doesn’t make you smarter, a little extra height may help you earn more.
I have two sons and one daughter. My daughter is just one year old but I’m determined she will be congratulated for her brains as well as her looks. As for my boys, I’ve never given it a thought.
According to one study, “girls are exposed to so many messages about thinness and body weight, and oftentimes women’s value is closely linked to their appearance. If parents don’t challenge those messages, they can be internalized.”
Should we even talk about body positivity? About strong female leadership? Or should we not even mention it at all and just assume it’s a given way of life?
It’s a tricky one. I’m trying not to make a big fuss, but I can’t pretend discrimination doesn’t exist.
What do you think? Female empowerment, body positivity and other life positive terminology: is it a good thing? Leave me a comment below.