As I sit and reflect on the last 30 days of storytelling, I can’t help but to post my reflections on the themes highlighted by this amazing group of contributors. I could identify with Robin’s sentiments of having never called her moments of empowerment a feminist experience and the impact of mass media on our perception of life as we know it. Andrea’s photoblog on cosplay and breaking stereotypes spoke to the always self conscious girl inside of me, looking to conform to fit in but fighting back against things that suppress my true-self. Robin Gabbard’s reflection on her parenting and the impact she has on empowering her daughters spoke to my love for my own mother and the ways in which, often unknowingly, she empowered me to be my own person. When Sierra talked about her grandfather teaching her to cut the grass, I was reminded of those moments in which my father taught me an independence that would shape my ability to define the relationships I allowed for in my life.
In week two, Cameo reflected on a conversation that we have all too often with our own about feminism and it’s importance — immediately reminding me of the moments where having friendships with sound and more informed minds allows me to inform the ill-informed. Lonias’s statement of “everyone defining what it means to be a woman” brought to life the internal conflict faced all too often by women in girls, affecting their ability to find fulfillment and happiness. When Nadine touched on the experience of being demonized for not cleanly fitting into the “ideal role of a woman,” I was struck by the reminder of my almost perpetual singularity in this life and the affect that my “living outside of expectations” has on my ability to acquire partnership from another. Ruth so eloquently stated a fact that I will associate endlessly when asked about the meaning of feminism: “feminism means I can dream big, work hard, have fun, and love wildly.” In “Fury and Joy: Feminism at the Kitchen Table,” Jessica so masterfully reminded me that in our advocacy for “different” issues, there’s always a point of intersection.
Kelly started week three off by reflecting on her upbringing and her discovery of how “feminism starts within,” a truth so greatly missed far too often. Christie opened my eyes to a term I had never heard before, “shelfie” — showing us the power of a picture and the subsequent reflection it evokes. The importance of parents on empowerment is a theme that is highlighted throughout these stories and a concept that cannot and should not be ignored; Karen’s story highlights that point of intersection well. Tashmica’s truths behind feminism and “living in fullness” left me wondering how often we suppress our truths rather than allowing them to inspire us to act.
In our final week, I was in awe over the honesty left on the table by these women. When Robin Grinnell said she was tired and hit us with her list of grievances, I was taken to the struggle of pushing forward on addressing issues that we feel like we are broken records on. Latwyla reminded me that in advocating for your rights as a human, your experience affects your politics — and it should. Adora laid out the truth behind body issues and the importance of prioritizing health and teaching those lessons to daughters who are inundated by images encouraging unhealthy lifestyle choices. Elyse’s piece on striving for perfection rang true for my own personal experience trying to be everything to everyone…and the subsequent discovery that I could not. Tyra’s Fast Tail Tale, summed up, so appropriately, the problem with the things we say and do in suppressing the identity of girls and shaming them for their very natural physical developments.
These stories empowered me. These truths inspired me. These reflections left me speechless. I love the dialogues these ladies have sparked. I love the men that have joined in the discussion and some who have found themselves discovering truths worthy of their consideration; requiring their action. You see, (re)defining Feminism was not about assigning labels; it was about making the list of infinite possibilities accessible to women. I would be lying if I told you we weren’t looking to drive you to action; I do want you, the reader, to act. I want you to remember that everything you say, do and don’t do matters. Everything you say, do and don’t do affects the outcomes of women and girls. I want you to read these reflections and see that the movement for equality as it relates to women and girls is not an unfounded one; these reflections should serve as validation to that point.
To the women who stood naked in the face of this internet space with their truths, thank you. Without the contributors, none of this would have been possible. We have been able to engage thousands of readers from across the United States, Brazil, Bosnia, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, China and many other countries because of your willingness to tell your story. You have impacted the perception of someone who has read your reflection and from that fact, we are encouraged to continue (re)defining Feminism as an annual campaign.
If you have read these stories, please give us feedback on our campaign and tell us how we can make this even better next year.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful end of the year!
Breannah Alexander, women reVamped founder