One of the most over looked concepts in the continued evolvement of what it means to be an Empowered Woman is the way in which we perceive and interact with each other. Often, when I broach the subject with other women that they probably hold a few if not many internalized social biases about other women I immediately get a defensive response. “No not me, I’m all about women being empowered.” “I’m a modern day woman who believes in women and supports them in every way.” But, are you really? How often, in any given day, might you be having automatic thoughts about other women based on societal expectations you have internalized and adopted as your own beliefs and behaviors? For instance, why do many of us as women celebrate drag queens for their courage in being their most fabulously dressed selves, for leaning into the courage to not entertain societal pressures. Yet, when a woman might dress the way a drag queen would, many of us are not celebrating them for their courage or individuality are we? So are we giving drag queens, (ahem, men) permission to be authentic, but snub the woman who passes us by in her fabulous garb with: _______________________ (fill in blank with thoughts based in biased internalized societal constructs. I.E. “Wow she thinks she’s something.”)
Just as an experiment in embodying bravery I would like to challenge each of you to on purpose, observe the automatic thoughts and judgements that come up about other women for one entire waking hour day. I am calling this embodiment of bravery because it is difficult and courageous to own our own bags of toxicity. It hurts, it’s painful to admit that you might hold beliefs that may hold other women back as you unconsciously project them out into the world. Maybe you’re not as empowered as you claim. After all don’t “empowered women support each other?”
It can feel shameful. Please, oh please I do not want you to go into a shame spiral. That’s not what this is about. Embodying bravery, in this circumstance, is about owning your own toxicity and your self compassion at the same time. Self compassion because you took those societal constructs on for a good reason. You wanted to belong and to be loved. That was your unconscious need and you did what you had to in order to get that need met. We all do this.
Okay now that we’ve addressed the shame spiral you are NOT going to allow yourself to slide into, I would like you to give yourself permission to allow and be with whatever thoughts and judgements about other women come into your consciousness. Acknowledge them, and begin to feel them in your body. What sensations come up when you think these thoughts? For example: (“maybe she should cover some of that cellulite”, or “I bet she’s too lazy to breastfeed.”). You might be surprised how mean your thoughts can be. Remember to allow. This is a moment to lean into the value of honesty with self.
Once you start owning these beliefs, you are on the authentic path to embodying the role of Empowered Woman. It’s too difficult to own the way our own toxicity makes us feel on the inside and continue to repeat those toxic behaviors and buy into those beliefs. We have a responsibility to each other to cease this behavior towards one another, if a societal shift in the balance of power between men and women is ever to occur. If you truly want to become this:
then STOP embodying this: