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We say we’re all about empowering women – but do our actions and words prove it?

You may feel like this post is for all of you – but it’s really for me.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the way we as women claim we want to be treated – and whether our actions are in alignment with that. I’m not sure they are.  I think there’s a disconnect somewhere.

I’m not claiming to have all the answers. I’m not even sure I’m asking the right questions.  I’m just taking a hard look at my own heart to see how well I’m doing at empowering women, and what messages I’m sending to the world that might go against that desire. Here is where I’m starting….with some things that I think we can stop doing right now to help empower women.

Stop posting Look At Me Selfies in our bathing suits on social media. We get it. You’ve got a great body.  But what messages are we sending to ourselves, our daughters, and even to men, when we obviously are seeking praise for how good we look?  I would rather admire you for your kindness, your wisdom, your art. I just don’t need to know what you look like naked.  And no we’re not just jealous. Rest assured, you will not see any pictures of my abs on Facebook. You’re welcome.

Stop posting about ourselves ALL THE TIME.  Ouch. Guilty.  All my posts are about me.  So I think I will work on that. Let’s start posting about other women we admire – not just the ones on TV – but the ones in our neighborhoods.  When is the last time I did a post about a woman I met who is doing great things that most of the world will never know about? Why not start talking about other women? That’s what empowering women is all about – giving other women power and the spotlight.

Stop complimenting little girls (and even big girls) on their looks.  I know it’s quick and easy to compliment a dress or a hairstyle.  But does it always have to be the only thing we comment on?  Why do I immediately go up to a young girl and tell her how pretty she is?  Yuck.  I need to stop that. Let’s start complimenting little girls and women on the things that really matter – their actions, their heart, their attitude, their achievements, and their behaviors.

Note:  I have nothing against being pretty. I spend a lot of time on makeup and hair because I love it.  Please don’t hear me say that it’s wrong or bad to be pretty. I just think that it shouldn’t be related to our power as women. It is as irrelevant to your worth as the color of your tennis shoes. We often talk about how all women are beautiful – redefining beauty. Why don’t we just make beauty completely irrelevant?

Stop comparing ourselves like this is a race.  I know you may not do this, but I do.  Sometimes I am VERY GUILTY of thinking that if one woman gets the spotlight, then I have failed somehow and missed my turn. Why do so many women judge themselves in comparison to others?  We should look more into that.

Stop talking bad about other women – especially attacking them for their looks. It really saddens me to see smart brave women tearing other smart brave women down with insults to their hair or body.  Good grief.  Have we not come further than this?  Let’s start honoring women – looking for the good and pointing that out – even if they don’t agree with the same things you do.  I have a friend who deals really well with annoying people. When I asked her how she does it, she said, “I find something good in every person and focus on that.”  Wise words. We all have our own crap. Let’s hope someone chooses to find the good in us.

Check your motives.  One easy way for me to check myself, is to check my motive before speaking, posting, commenting, reacting, or having an opinion. Is my motive to be right, to prove something, to have the last say?  If the motive is focused on me, then I need to shift it. I’m getting better at entering a conversation that is adversarial, by saying to myself, “Wait. Don’t go into this conversation with anger and judgment.  Be supportive and loving.” It’s amazing how contagious our motives are.

Be humble.  I know. I hate it when people tell me to be grateful. I’m sure telling you to be humble is just as bad. But a very wise friend once said, “Don’t brag about eating cake to a person who is hungry.”  Such sage advice.  While we certainly can’t stop posting about our kids because someone can’t have them, we can still be more sensitive.  Even having that awareness might make us double check sometimes.  I told my friend who was getting married,” The best advice I can give you, is that nobody cares your wedding as much as you do.”  Harsh, I know. But she told me years later that it was the best advice she got.  So maybe it’s okay to share your new car with your close friends – but maybe not as okay to share it with 5,000 people on your facebook page while you cry in humility at being blessed with a sports car.  I’m not the humble police.  It’s not up to me to judge – especially after writing this post!  But I still think that humility will help us empower women. Or at least it will help me. Humility is never a wrong answer.

Focus on her. I think the key to empowering women is to give them the power. Give them attention. Give them the moment. Give them the microphone. Focus on them them them.  Sometimes I go in a room and even though I don’t mean to, I’m all about me.  That gets me into trouble because then I’m measuring me. And I don’t want to measure me.  But when I go in ready to love on people and be excited for them and just be all about them and what’s going on in their world – well, it makes me happy. I think there’s something to that. I REALLY need to work on this one. Oops. Sorry. Making it all about me. See?

Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Empowering women is about truth, honesty, and saying what needs to be said in a loving way. Have the courage and grace to have the tough conversations – with them – not behind their back. The best friends don’t just tell you what you want to hear – they tell you what you need to hear – and love you anyway.

Love and empower yourself. Loving others and empowering others can’t truly be done if we haven’t done the work ourselves. The best way we can show young girls how to be powerful women, is to be one.

Okay. That’s all. MORE than enough for me to work on.  But I think if I do work on this, then maybe I have done something small to make the world a better place.

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