4 WAYS TO FEEL EMPOWERED AS A WOMEN
As a whole, women continue to liberate themselves from societal expectations, long-ingrained sexism, and internalized misogyny, but there is always some amount of personal work to be done. It’s high time to undo the harm that’s been done by taking our future into our own hands.
Personal exploration and discovery are two important steps on the journey to freedom and empowerment—here are four easy places to start as you move closer to the best version of yourself.
#1 Set Healthy Boundaries
Ah, the dreaded b-word (nope, not that one). Setting boundaries is important for everyone, but after years of internalizing “ladylike” behavior, it can be harder for women to break out of the all-yes-all-the-time, how-can-I-be-of-service mentality.
Here are a couple of concrete ways to protect yourself from your own worst tendencies:
- Learn to say “no” – Easier said than, well, said. But to get you in the habit of saying no to unreasonable demands and inappropriate requests, start by refusing something trivial. When it really counts, you’ll know what it feels like to stand up for yourself (and that it’s not as scary as you originally feared).
- Surround yourself with people who value you – Confrontation is hard and breaking up with toxic partners or manipulative friends is even harder, but spending time with people who know your worth is easy. Start by embracing the positive people in your life; eventually, you’ll feel you no longer need the negative ones, and cutting them off will come easily.
#2 Feel Sexy For Yourself
Before we go too far down the rabbit hole of over-sexualization, the male gaze, and neglecting female pleasure, let’s keep things simple.
Looking sexy is about feeling good—for yourself.
It’s about feeling confident, beautiful, and desirable because you want to. You can still find a set of petite lingerie that makes you feel like an independent woman with sexual desires, or throw on a slinky cocktail dress because you love the way you look in it. Just keep checking back in with yourself to make sure you’re dressing up (or down—wink wink) for the right reasons.
#3 Learn to Unlearn
In school, our brains are packed full of (largely useless) information. But when do we finally get to unpack all the harmful ideas, stereotypes, and expectations we’ve internalized over the years?
Unfortunately, that’s usually a solo mission (or your first Feminist Theory course in college). So crack open a textbook and start unlearning your own bad habits:
- Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty – Start questioning the out-dated narratives you’ve been spoonfed to realize the ultimate truth: you don’t owe men a single thing. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is basically a roadmap for tip #1: set those boundaries, ladies!
- Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body Is Not An Apology – This book addresses radical self-love in the face of hatred and negativity, specifically surrounding body positivity, empowerment, and intersectional narratives.
- Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism – Kendall not only criticizes the shortcomings of mainstream feminism and the lack of intersectionality but provides a blueprint for how to move forward with a more inclusive liberation movement. This captivating narrative is an invitation to understand our own wrongs, then do better.
#4 Become Your Own Hero
The damsel in distress narrative is in desperate need of a reboot. But if no one’s waiting in the wings to save you, then you have to be prepared to save yourself.
One of the most empowering steps you can take as a woman is feeling confident and comfortable with your own physical power. In an ideal world, you’d have no one to protect yourself from, but in reality, enrolling in self-defense training will prepare you for those worst-case scenarios.
Empowerment Is A Journey, Not A DestinationWouldn’t it be nice to wake up one morning and realize, poof! You’re empowered now! Empowerment is a bit of a social activist buzzword, but it’s all about having confidence in your abilities, the agency to make your own decisions, and the freedom to live in those choices as your own complete person.
There’s no end to that oft traveled road. Luckily, though, every passing mile becomes easier and easier, as you unload the heavy burden you’ve been carrying for far too long.
The first mile is the hardest, but also the most important.