I came across this excerpt of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book "We Should All Be Feminists" a while back and I don't think I have ever read anything about female empowerment that I related to on such a personal level:
"The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school, I was worried. Not about the teaching material, because I was well prepared and I was teaching what I enjoyed. Instead I was worried about what to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously.
I knew because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked to feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lipgloss and my skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.
The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn't wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing- but a woman does.
I wish I had not worn that ugly suit that day. Had I then the confidence I have now to be myself, my students would have benefited even more from my teaching. Because I would have been more comfortable and more fully and truly myself.
I have chosen no longer to be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected in all my femaleness. Because I deserve to be. I like politics and history and am happiest when having a good argument about ideas. I am girly. I am happily girly. I like high heels and trying on lipsticks. It's nice to be complimented by both men and women, but I often wear clothes that men don't like or don't "understand". I wear them because I like them and because I feel good in them. The "male gaze", as a shaper of my life's choices, is largely incidental."
I feel like many of us women can identify with what Chimamanda was saying. Her words resonated with me so much because I have been at the exact same point where I rethought my wardrobe choices solemnly based on the fact that I felt like I would be taken more seriously if I were dressed less feminine.
I always have been a girly girl at heart- I remember loving the color pink so much I would wear the color to school every day. I loved sparkles and florals. I loved my pink backpack and my sparkly pencil case and floral princess notebook. I loved it until I was mocked for it. They called me names and being a little girl that didn't know how to fight back (yet!!) I came home one day and decided I would never give them a reason to make fun of me again. I threw every single pink item out of my closet (which means I pretty much got rid of 90% of my clothes) and threw my notebooks and glitter pens into the garbage. I from then on only wore neutral dark colors. And even though this made their voices go quiet I came to find out that I was even unhappier than I was when they were calling me silly names.
Of course this was not the only time and as the years went by I started realizing the problem was so much more than just wearing pink. As women we always have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and sometimes that's not even enough. But realizing that as long as I take myself seriously, respect myself, know my worth and let all that shine through, it doesn't matter how we decide to dress or how much or little make up we end up wearing. It's about feeling secure in your own skin. And people will notice. Trust me. Confidence is one of the most powerful things in life. And I'm not saying I am confident every second of the day, we all have our moments of self doubt. But true confidence is the ability to pick yourself up again when you're at the bottom, look in that mirror and tell yourself: "YOU GO, GIRL!"
But it doesn't end by just empowering ourselves but by empowering others as well. You gotta sprinkle that girl power all around you like it's fairy dust. "Empowered women, empower women" Too many times do I see girls walking down the street giving each other the mean head-to-toe-side-eye. Why do we have to make each other feel insecure when we have enough men out there doing it already? We need to put jealousy aside, because WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! If we all stood together as one force without tearing each other down men would have no chance. So next time you see a girl in a cute outfit, say something! Personally, it means so much more coming from a girl than a guy. Give that compliment or even just a smile! You'll see it'll go a long way. And if you believe in Karma (like I do) it will eventually make its way back to you.
Unfortunately this shirt is no longer in stock, however I've linked some of the coolest #GIRLPOWER shirts I could find.
Shop them here: