Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Empowerment is a confusing concept and one which is very difficult to define. As women, we are constantly reminded to empower each other and to find new ways to empower ourselves. With such conflicting messages throughout feminist media about what empowerment really means and how we actually get it, it can be a difficult to understand whether we even need it or not in the first place. In my opinion though, feeling empowered as a young woman, is an essential to your endeavours both personally and professionally, and so gaining this longed for and desired mindset should be paramount for any feminist. This doesn't mean that we should all be stripping off and posing nude for a photograph (I mean, by all means if you want to do that, you go girl)! It just means that we should all know how to use the tools we have at our disposal to ensure that we are all actually living our best lives; not our best insta lives. Continue reading for a few tips and tricks on how to go about feeling EMPOWERED.
There are three key characteristics of your person to think about when seeking empowerment, and they are; mind, body and spirit. And I mean that in the least *cringe* way possible. It's about finding ways to enhance your mind and make you think, to look after your body and practise self-care and to make you feel good and happy. They seem like the simplest things in the world - and really, they are.
When I think of how I personally empower my mind, I instantly think of my writing and the therapeutic nature of it. I think about all the articles and books that I love to read. And I think of the new things I learn daily in doing so. The only reason I'm the feminist that I am today is because I've been reading and learning about it for the last six years. I've read stories of women I relate to and of others that I don't so much, but all the stories have had the same impact on me. They've made me want to know more. The days I spent, aged fifteen, trawling through The Guardian's "women" section, reading article after article from women, about women are exactly what inspired me to dedicate my writing to feminism. They made me feel capable and EMPOWERED. I truly think the key to empowering your mind is to find something you love learning about; and never stop learning about it. Find something that ignites a fire in your mind and run with it. The day anyone stops learning is the day that they shut themselves off from the world. I am so grateful when I look back, that I dedicated so much of my time to feminism and tailored my education towards it because look at me now. My blog is growing in success; I am an award nominee; and I have found something which I actually enjoy spending my time on. All of this is down to nothing but hard work. Hard work that happened because my mind was empowered by someone else's. We should all talk more to each other about the things we love; your passion could be someone else's inspiration. This is how we can empower one another; by teaching and learning and growing.
The second characteristic, of empowering our bodies, seems to be universally harder to achieve. How exactly do you get to that stage where you just don't care anymore? Where you are comfortable in your own skin and love yourself unapologetically, or what I like to call 'The Kim K effect'? I don't think there's a simple one-size-fits-all solution for this one. Nor do I think there should be. As women, we spend (WASTE) far too much time comparing ourselves to other women, who are in turn, comparing themselves to other women - and the cycle continues. For so long we've been bombarded with messages saying we need to be thinner but still have the most extreme curves, or we must have perfectly white teeth and a huge pout to match, or that big boobs are no longer 'in' and small boobs are the perfect accessory, or that we should have a huge bum but still have a thigh gap - BASICALLY, in short, we are all inadequate in someway and need to spend our entire future earnings on fitting into the tiny pigeonhole of 'perfect'. I hate to break it to everybody but... it's way too small a pigeonhole for us all to fit in. Could you even imagine a world full of robot women who looked exactly like sex dolls? I know, EW. So here is the key to empowering your body - self-acceptance. Being able to see through all the companies trying to sell us a dream and see past your personal hang-ups to come to the realisation that, you know what - aesthetic doesn't actually matter. The easiest way to empower your body, is to step outside, in the rain, take a deep breath and realise - you are alive. The female body is a pretty incredible machine. And we should all appreciate, or at the very least accept ourselves, whatever form that comes in. Feeling empowered in your own skin really stems from your ability to say "you know what; I'm not perfect. But, I'm okay with that".
Experimenting with how to empower your spirit is honestly, the most enjoyable of them all. It's simply about doing all the things you love. It's about all the songs and films and places and people that make you FEEL. My best (and worst) habitual behaviour is listening to music and watching films that reflect my mood. I have a sad playlist for when I want to wallow in self-pity and for afterwards, I have a playlist that *seriously* never fails to completely lift my spirits again. These songs all remind me of every single moment of self-doubt I have managed to quash by dusting myself off and starting again. It's the same with films. I will never stop re-watching the same few films when I'm in need of a kick up the arse because I know the power each of them has, to make me feel. I think it is so important to have routine behaviours that you have for yourself. That you don't need anybody else around to help with. It strengthens you as an individual to know that you possess the key to lift your own spirits, and it's helped me A LOT. I truly believe the world would be a happier place if we all had more opportunity and time to visit places that inspire us with people who do this also. There should be no room in anyone's life for people who don't inspire them in some way. There is nothing more disempowering than negative energy; be that location or company. So, take a walk, change scenery, introduce yourself to new people, network, listen to your favourite music and watch the same film for the nine hundredth and fifty second time... do all the simple things, that everybody takes for granted. But when you do them this time, take a moment to stop and think. Think about how it makes you feel. I guarantee the word that springs to mind will be... EMPOWERED.
**My most empowering songs: SIA - Reaper, Taylor Swift - Long Live, Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire, Cheryl - I Don't Care, Dua Lipa - IDGAF, Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Emeli Sande - Give Me Something, Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time, Alanis Morrisette - Ironic, Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi, Sara Bareillies - Love Song, Katy Perry - Part of Me, Lily Allen - Hard out Here, Ingrid Michaelson - Hell No... (I will have to stop here because this list is endless)
My most empowering films: Eat, Pray, Love ; Wild ; Suffragette ; Legally Blonde ; Dirty Dancing ; Thelma and Louise ; 10 things I hate about you ; Steel Magnolias ; Romi and Michelle's High School Reunion ; Clueless ; The Devil Wears Prada ; Letters to Juliette
My most empowering TV programmes: Desperate Housewives; Big Little Lies; Jane the Virgin; Charmed; The Bold Type**