I started the New Year off with one seemingly simple resolution: to not focus on photos of leggy, boney, Photoshopped models, but rather to surround myself with photos of beautiful, healthy young women. (Refer here.) I've been really proud of the progress I've made with this resolution. I've reflected this a lot on my Pinterest and in the blogs I've been reading. I've even since wrote angry letters to fashion magazines! It's great to read blogs written by real girls showing their passion for personal style and being true to yourself. As a blogger, it's refreshing to see other girls on the Internet who aren't afraid of their curves and don't mope over the size of their boobs or thighs. This new appreciation has led me to a second resolution for 2012. I'm taking things one at a time, and I think I'm ready to moved onto resolution number two.
"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference." - Jane Goodall
Growing up, I was absolutely certain that I would become the next Jane Goodall. There was no doubt in my mind that it was my entire purpose in life to create harmony between humans and the animal kingdom and to speak for those who do not have a voice. Jane Goodall was my very first role model. I read every book about her that I could get my paws on and did countless report projects about her.
"Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." - Amelia Earhart
As a young girl still figuring out what she wanted to be, these women were everything. They were the world. They were a million doors opening. Looking back, I can understand my mother's disappointment the day I announced that I wanted to go to beauty school. There comes a day when, for many young girls, being society's idea of "beautiful" becomes very important. I sat down and watched all the Disney princess movies for the first time when I was 12. It was against my mother's rules and I understood why she didn't want me to see them. It was around this time that I began reading my first fashion magazines - GL, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Elle Girl - and that my sister began lecturing me on why it's necessary that I straighten my hair and dress a certain way. It was also this time that I began to admire models and movie stars simply for being beautiful. To me, it became everything to be one of those girls.
My list of role models altered drastically. Jane Goodall and Amelia Earhart slipped off my radar entirely. I soon came to admire fashion models. I'm sure that these girls are all unique and special, and I'm sure I could find an excuse to admire then despite their beauty. We all have struggles to overcome and a story to tell. I'm sure I could admire almost any person walking down the street for some reason or another. But there was absolutely nothing motivating about these girls. What on Earth could inspire me to grow, to push boundaries and reach for more? Without that motivation to appreciate women, I began to feel bitter towards them. Things turn toxic when women put more faith into the power of the male than the female.
On top of that, I resented feminism. I was so opposed to being a feminist - I didn't want to be hairy and butch, to hate men, or to absolutely repel them. I wanted to fit into society, to wear dresses and wear make-up. For some reason, I didn't believe that I could wear heels and still stand up for my own rights.
Things have really taken a 360 in the past few months. After this last break up, I began to realise that putting all my effort into boys was absolutely silly. I'd put my real dreams on the back burner for a chance to be considered beautiful and desirable by society. I'd completely neglected my faith in women in society. My role models would be so disappointed in me...
I've suddenly become a feminist. Maybe it's the current political climate, but I find myself feeling empowered by females - and yes, females who maybe are not considered bombshells or particularly "desirable" by society...but why am I so obsessed with fitting into society? What is society doing to help me?
My 2012 New Year's Resolution, Part Two, is to find empowering females...and focus on them. Sure, there's nothing wrong with my deep admiration for Clara Bow and Marilyn Monroe or my dependency on Cat Stevens and Charlie Chaplin. But there's so much more. As a young woman heading into the big, scary world, there's so much going against me, just as there's so much going for me. It's silly to be entirely dependent upon men or to let myself be put down over men and their rules. From now on, I am a feminist, and that's nothing to feel shameful about.