Dedication: Dedicated to all of the strong females in my life, especially the GOTR girl gang.
I love the title of this campaign, Say It Forward. I love the play on words, how it invites women to use their voices (Say), how it is open to all experiences and there is no prompt (It) and how it implies a better, more equal future for women (Forward.) I enjoy reading the diverse stories – some sad, some happy – but all thought-provoking and insightful. While I love the phrase Say It Forward, I can’t help but wish I could rewind time and respond to certain situations differently, or Say It Back. So many times we are too shocked or hurt by the gender-biased comments we receive on a daily basis to even respond. It is only later (in the car, in the shower, on a run) when we think of an appropriate response. Here are a few times in my life I can think of when I would have liked to Say It Back.
“Why are you working out and lifting so much? Girls aren’t supposed to get big. Guys like tiny girls.” I work out to feel good, not to look good. For me, and many women, working out is a stress reliever and strength builder. It is more about giving attention to my body and health and less about getting attention from others.
“You don’t need to work hard. You can just marry rich.” I would like to be able to support myself, and also be able to choose a partner not based on what they do or how much they make, but who they are and how they make me feel.
“Why aren’t you skinnier? I guess your body is just getting ready to have kids.” (Yes, someone actually said this to me.)
I look this way because of a variety of reasons – my genes, the workouts I choose, a social life, injuries, etc. – and it is also not my goal to just be a mother, nor does it have to be any woman’s. My body does not reflect my future – it reflects my past, and that’s why I love it.
Let’s Say It Back next time. The more we challenge these negative, confining comments about women, the less we will hear them. When we say it back, we can start moving forward.