We’re Urging Women to Love Themselves

I recently watched a TED Talk with Meaghan Ramsey, the Global Director of Dove’s Self-Esteem Project, in which she discusses some shocking— and definitely unpleasant— statistics about women. The title: “Why Thinking You’re Ugly is Bad For You.” Sounds like a no-brainer, right? How could poor self-image possibly be healthy? But that doesn’t stop 10,000 individuals from Google-searching, Am I Ugly?, each month.  

According to Ms. Ramsey, insecurities and low self-esteem related to outward appearance, especially body size, cause women to retreat from opportunity. They refrain from class participation, fearing unwanted gazes at their bodies, they stop engaging in their athletic activities, and women even skip their job interviews, worrying too much about the way they look. These three things all have something in common— they are sparked by our belief that others are judging us. We need to shift this paradigm. We all breakdown, constantly worrying about how we appear in the eyes of others— it’s inevitable in our human makeup, but we need to realize that beauty is more personal than that. It starts from within. While it’s hard to shake, we spend too much time obsessing about the way others perceive us and rely too heavily on our peers’ opinions.

In the ever-growing digital world, trending hashtags on Instagram within the younger female demographic include disgusting phrases like #thighgap and #thinspiration, encouraging girls to scrutinize themselves and their bodies, paving the way for self-hate.  Here at Empowered By You, it’s our mission to make women appreciate their beauty and abilities. We need women to love themselves, to realize that beauty is more than skin deep, so forget #thinspiration. We’re replacing that garbage with #empoweredby on all our Instagram posts, and we urge you to do the same.

We have recently started selling Empowered By You panties in Equinox gyms across the country. With our performance-based fabric catered to athleticism, women feel empowered while they work out, fulfilling our motto: Inner Armor for Outer Strength. Exercise can be a great outlet for stress. When I’m running on the treadmill after a busy week, I can almost feel my anxieties dripping away with my sweat. When I play in a volleyball game, my mind shifts toward the competition; I’m no longer thinking about how I look in my uniform, but how I’m going to position my body so that I can have the perfect form to hit the ball. My body becomes a tool, rather than a spectacle.

Empowered By You also focuses on the message: Whatever Empowers You, Empowers Women Everywhere. We want women to be mentors for others— that’s why we’ve started what we call The Paradigm Shifter Program with sorority girls across the country. The main component to this involves hosting small meetings for 8-10 girls, where they describe their breakdown moments and how it paved the way to a major breakthrough. In doing so, girls connect and feel united instead of comparing themselves to each other and worrying about how others perceive them. Ultimately, here at EBY, we love female empowerment, and with the rise of self-doubt and insecurity among women nowadays, we need to constantly figure out ways to help them see their full potential. That is our mission.

All-Female Universities Start to Shift the Paradigm

Nearly a week ago, Ruth Padawer for The New York Times wrote an article titled, “When Women Become Men at Wellesley,” highlighting the current controversy over accepting, both physically and emotionally, transgendered males into the all-female university. Right now, about twenty-four Wellesley students identify either as male or as genderqueer, meaning they may not classify themselves as male or female. Earlier this year in the spring, a transgendered male named Timothy ran for a student government position. This met a lot of backlash; students created Facebook groups that rallied to evict him from the ballot— a ‘Campaign to Abstain’. This stemmed from the belief that men shouldn’t hold leadership positions at a women’s university.

This argument is two-fold. On the one hand, trans students can argue that gender-focused universities epitomize the desire to breakdown traditional gender classifications, but on the other hand, Wellesley is founded on female empowerment, so a lot of the students believe females should fill these leadership roles. However, whether you agree with it or not, by infiltrating their current student body with transgender and genderqueer individuals, it cannot be denied that Wellesley is successfully shifting the paradigm for students of all orientations— something that needs to be applauded.

Wellesley is becoming a safe haven, a community where students find their place. This NYT article narrates a few different stories where individuals began their schooling at Wellesley as women, but later discovered that they were meant to be men. One example that demonstrates this is the story of Jesse Austin, who said that he “‘figured if I was any kind of woman, I’d find it there. I knew Wellesley would have strong women. They produce a ton of strong women, strong in all sorts of ways.’”

In admitting more than just females to their university, Wellesley is shifting the paradigm on what acceptance means, helping to abolish exclusion. A great phrase taken from the Times’ article, stated that “as a marginalized group fighting for respect and clout, how could women justify marginalizing others?” It seems so utterly obvious that women, who are currently fighting for equality, should hold the same standards for themselves (let’s take a look at the ‘Golden Rule’: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you). This idea of acceptance is an important one, especially following Emma Watson’s revolutionary HeForShe UN speech, in which she asked both men and women to take a stance against gender discrimination together.

Shifting the paradigm is all about paving the way for an enlightening breakthrough after what may have seemed like a major breakdown. As I just stated, several transgendered men were a bit unsure about who they were, or where their place was (as defined by gender roles), until they came to Wellesley. They were experiencing breakdowns over their identity, but when they were accepted to Wellesley— that was their breakthrough. They discovered themselves, and knew who they were meant to be. That is powerful, and Wellesley is to thank for that. Wellesley is helping turn these individuals’ weaknesses into strength.

If the world starts to become more united solely as human beings, rather than based on outdated gender conventions, we will all be more empowered. Empowered to be ourselves, to accept ourselves for who we are. While Wellesley should remain true to its feminist roots and foundation, welcoming all different types of individuals is fostering a loving, communal environment, one that we admire here at Empowered By You because of this idea of supporting each other. How do you feel about what Wellesley and other female universities are doing? Post your comments below.

[follow this link to read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/magazine/when-women-become-men-at-wellesley-college.html?_r=0]