“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”~ Bob Marley
While I’ve never thought of myself as the strongest or most secure person, over time the above in my life has been very true. Strength is something we have to dig deep for, even when we don’t want to, when it hurts or when we have no other option. This majestic bighorn sheep was standing beside a busy five-lane interstate in the Rocky Mountains and I couldn’t help but be in awe of how calm he stayed standing right next to vehicles driving seventy-five miles per hour. It was as if he could block all the chaos out and was only focused on getting his next meal in front of him. This native to Colorado had no plan of moving and showed a calm strength that was very admirable. In our chaotic world, we as women can take this animal to heart.
Recently I’ve been inspired by many women in media who are going against the grain and showing their strength in speaking their truth. In a sometimes surface and shallow world, it’s very refreshing and needs to be commended. In a recent interview, Michelle Obama said these inspiring words, “I suffer no illusions that I’ve reached any mountaintop. Accomplishments are nice, but I try to not let those be my metrics for success. What I’m more interested in is our stories-the big choices, the turning points, that together make up a life.” What incredible and humble insight. We should not be content with ourselves or label each other by our upbringing, college degree, career, beauty, status, and accomplishments. How do we treat others, what have we overcome, who have we helped along the way and how do we value those in our lives? Isn’t that what we want to teach our children in this fame-obsessed world. How much more connected could we all be if we opened up more and shared our struggles, challenges, imperfections and battles we’ve both lost and won.
Another strong woman who I’ve appreciated over the years and recently, even more, is Demi Lovato. While she’s struggled with mental health, addiction, eating disorders, family issues and the numerous pitfalls of Hollywood, she is a fighter who not only refuses to give up but hopes that sharing her journey will help others. Her beautiful honest vocals, unfiltered photo’s on social media, and willingness to get help make her real. She once said, “I think women who know who they are, are beautiful.” What a refreshing outlook on being content with yourself and just settle into who you want to be. Shouldn’t women look each day in the mirror and rather than be critical of what she wished she looked like simply accept who she is, be grateful for what her body carries her to do and say to her herself I’m good enough.
When Ashley Graham came on the modeling scene it was inspiring. What makes her so beautiful is that she makes no apologies for what size she is and her confidence shines through. From a young age, females are programmed to think your size is what defines you and will make you happy. I remember being a healthy, size eight, young girl in my 20’s who worked out five days a week and being told by agencies that if I didn’t get down to certain measurements I wouldn’t get modeling jobs. How dare someone set unrealistic standards for anyone. By all means, I strive to eat healthy, exercise, practice mindfulness, but never let any human tell you what you should look like. Ashley just posted the other day her stretch marks on social media and she honestly should be praised for the strength it takes to show that part of motherhood. Be proud of those tiger stripes, they brought a life into the world. I’m proud of the small steps the modeling industry has taken over the years in showing beauty isn’t one size fits all, but there’s such a long way to go. Winnie Harlow is another strong female that did not let her skin condition define or stop her. Selma Blair is an inspiration for openly discussing her brutal battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Lizzo slays it in speaking her truth through not only lyrics but not letting her size contain how she expresses her style. Sports Illustrated finally started featuring plus-size models in their magazine, which is a big statement. A recent study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education revealed, “The average woman is between size 16 to 18.” Isn’t it sad that so many popular retailers only carry up to size 12! This information is crucial for both the fashion industry and should help women stop comparing themselves to an unrealistic standard set by society.
What I truly am so excited about is the information, education, and honesty that is so readily available for women to learn about and grow from. It used to be you had to be published to have a voice, where now social media and blogging allows anyone to have a voice and speak their truth. Don’t let yourself be defined by only how you look. Inspire young girls and your daughters to not body shame themselves into what society tells them what they should look like. Remember to not let your or others’ accomplishments be all you see or judge success by. Take care of your body, mind, and soul. True strength is shown when you listen to that inner voice and strive to be enough for you and no one else.