Last week, I had the great joy of joining I AM THAT GIRL (IATG) co-founder, Emily Greener, and the local IATG Los Angeles chapter in a dance flash mob in the streets of West Hollywood. Organized by Eve Ensler as a call to action for the assault women withstand every day, One Billion Rising inspired people around the world to dance for the well-being of girls and women everywhere.
We danced for the one in three women who suffer at the hands of physical abuse; we danced for the blame imparted on our bodies for being raped. We danced for the political subjugation that our bodies endure and for the fierce scrutiny our bodies sustain; too sexy, too weak, too flat, too saggy, too big, too masculine, too dark and too light. We danced in the streets, by the ocean, in the bustling cities and arid deserts. Some women risked their lives to dance. Prime ministers and nuns, movie stars and mothers, prisoners and pensioners all shook the very bodies that are under fire to the sound of the earth's heartbeat.
While many controlling assaults on women are obvious, there are many invisible subtleties ingrained in our culture that keep our brightness dimmed. Although nothing was ever verbalized to me, I instinctively felt from a young age there was something easier about being a boy. As I got older, I watched enviously as the guys enjoyed drama-free friendships and social freedoms not permitted to girls. From my early teens to the end of my 20s, I found myself in one long-term relationship after another, prioritizing my man's dreams, interests and friends over mine.
It wasn't until my late 20s that I recognized something in my sense of self was amiss and began searching for answers as to why things were that way. In my quest for truth, I recognized that my desire to align with guys was a consequence of accepting invalidation somewhere that being a girl wasn't good enough. This understanding helped me come into greater acceptance of myself as a woman, and in turn, greater acceptance and compassion for women everywhere.
Let's face it, women haven't had the easiest road. For centuries our planet has been slanted for men to control all the money and power, resulting with women ending up competing with each other as an attempt to be secure. The amount of precious energy spent on perfecting hair, makeup, waistlines and wardrobes alone could create empires, while the amount of potential, creativity, compassion and grace that's lost in that pursuit is tragic.
Today our planet is facing a critical crossroads. The same male-dominated thinking that led us to the brink of collapse won't bring us back. For this to happen, we need every woman on the planet to rise above the seen and unseen controls, so we can reach our optimum potential, wisdom and grace.
While you may not be able to prevent physical assault, you can rise to your highest self. Look beyond your fears and dare to explore yourself; follow whatever lights you up inside. Forgive those you feel have harmed you and let go. Realize that the judgments you hold for others reflect that which exists inside of you. Treat yourself with respect and treat the girl who doesn't respect herself with compassion. Learn to accept yourself and you'll come to accept all the women around you. Rise to your highest self and watch the world change with you. Strive to be that girl who shows the others the way.
To read more of Emily's inspirational musings, click here.