This morning I was making a little twitter visit and I happened upon the #whenIwas tweets. Thousands of women talking about their experiences with sexism, sexual violence, aggression from men or just those moments when you’re told to “smile” because you’re prettier when you do. Because all every gal wants in life is to be pretty.
I don’t walk around yelling “I’m a feminist” from the rooftops. I just let my life, my actions, my choices do the talking. However, I was intrigued by this hashtag campaign and I decided to share a few of my own.
The first two:
#wheniwas 37 a security guard at my office told me to stop cutting my hair. It looked better long. I told him to go fuck himself. #wheniwas 13 a boy wouldn’t stop looking at my boobs when he was talking to me. I punched him in the face. He stopped looking.
#wheniwas 16-22 y/o I let someone I thought loved me destroy my self worth. I thought he was sad and I should love him anyway. I was wrong.
I’ll probably continue with these because it’s fascinating. It tells me a lot about myself and the collective experiences we share as women. It was alarming for me to see the first two which reflected a strength that I don’t always see in myself – I’m a pleaser. I’m happy when everyone else is happy. I know this is not a unique trait. But in remembering those moments I remembered power I found in being a woman and controlling the narrative around my value – as much as anyone is ever able to control the narrative around anything.
The third tweet seemed so contradictory to the other two. I gave up my power for a very long time to someone who didn’t like me as much as I didn’t like myself. He reflected my pain and confusion back to me on a daily basis. How can a girl who knew enough at 13 to hit someone for not looking her in the eyes, or who very politely gave someone the what for when he commented on her choice of hair styles, be the same person who handed over her self-worth for such an incredibly long time allowing someone to steal away her identity, her confidence, and her first everything in love?
How? Because we can be everything all at once. We can be children and mothers. We can be in pain and cause pain. We can be sad and happy and angry and confused and totally content all at once. The only way we know this is by saying our truth out loud for others to hear and witness. It is not unique – our experiences are universal and individual all at once.
The power in this platform and in small projects like the #whenIwas is that we have a place to speak out. The mission of It Runs in the Family is for us to take our power back with love, honesty, and often humor. Shame and marginalization for being “other” no longer has a place in the world. There is no other. There is only us.
#whenIwas in my 30’s I started telling the truth about mental illness, family, motherhood, life and once I started I couldn’t stop. #itrunsinthefamily and we are all family.