With International Women’s Day happening this month, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a woman.
Yes, it's getting a little deep I know, but please bear with me.
Despite the great strides that have been made towards the re-empowerment of women (in the so-called developed nations anyway), I have to confess that sometimes I still feel constricted by the implied rule book of who we should be as women, especially around the unspoken expectations about our roles, how we should act, and how we should look.
I wonder why we continue to uphold some of these notions, even when they’re contrary to what we would choose for ourselves.
I had an illuminating and unexpected conversation with a lovely lady last month while I was working on Isy B. at the National Gallery. She’d come across Isy B. and liked the designs but believed that because she was older she couldn’t or shouldn’t wear bolder colors and prints.
To be fair, I get where that belief was coming from. In working with women from all walks of life, I’ve come across similar beliefs around what we are permitted as women, and indeed what we allow ourselves, particularly as we get older.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, after our fantastic and very frank discussion (thank you my dear Daniela!), I was delighted to receive an email from her a couple of weeks later and this is what she said;
“… you were right, there is no age limit when it comes to your joyful designs. I’m so happy with my new suit, it is incredibly comfortable and was so easy to swim in. I love the fabric and of course the beautiful artwork.”
But this experience has once again left me wondering; who made all these rules for us as women?!
Yes, without a doubt, there are towering challenges and complexities that come with being a female member of the human race, and we have to meet each to the best of our ability each day. However, there can also be moments of fun, lightheartedness, and beauty, if we can remember to allow it.
We can celebrate our courage, strength, and passion while having compassion and being gentle with ourselves for our vulnerabilities. What would it look like to find enjoyment in our femininity?
I know this is likely to look different for each of us so we each have to define it for ourselves.
As usual for me, it’s over to my journal to try to untangle some of my ideas around the question - what does it mean to me to be a woman?
What I’ve come up with is that it means being okay with myself as I am. I love pretty things and wearing things that make me feel beautiful. I love having a giggle with girlfriends, and I also love being intuitive, strong-willed, independent, and accomplished. Heck, I’ve even learned to love the magic inherent in my menstrual cycle.
Beyond our physiology, what constitutes feminine and masculine in our world seems to me to be just a set of ideas, there is nothing set in stone.
I can revel in my softer side, but I can also embrace my more masculine tendencies when they emerge (I spent many years boxing and practicing martial arts!) and I can appreciate that balance of the Yin and Yang in myself and others.
No one should define our femininity for us or the choices we make.
This International Women’s Day, I’m taking a beat to admire the beauty, strength, and courage of who we are as women. To celebrate our achievements, our triumphs, and our contributions. To acknowledge the challenges we face, and the efforts and compromises we find ourselves having to make.
I am grateful to all of you, the women in our Isy B. community. I am thankful for the strong women in my life who have inspired, supported, and shared their wisdom and experience with me.
What feels important for you to acknowledge and celebrate this International Women’s Day?
We’re asking you, our lovely and wise Isy B. community to send me an inspirational message you would like us to share with women everywhere. We would be so honored to publish your message on our various platforms. Help us celebrate, uplift and inspire other women. Your wisdom is our collective strength.
The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #EmbraceEquity.
This is the statement shared on the official IWD website:
"Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity."
Advanced Style: Older & Wiser - Ari Seth Cohen
This is one of my all-time favorite books and I refer to it constantly. It features amazingly stylish women and men over the age of 60 who have thrown out the unspoken rulebook of who they should be and what they should look like as they get older.
What I’m Learning
One of the things that define us as women is our journey through the menstrual cycle and menopause. I’ve loved learning more about myself and the journey with the wisdom and support of the Red School.
On the Soundtrack for the Month
Sisters are doing it for themselves - Eurythmics Featuring Aretha Franklin
If this song doesn’t make you feel all superwoman-like or at least make you smile, I don’t know what will!
Want to know what swimsuit Daniela is wearing? This is Isy B.'s Butterfly one piece swimsuit with a classic scoop neck, slimming panels and unique hand-drawn print. Shop online or find on the Islands at The Mercantile at Marriott Grand Cayman, La Boutique at Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, the Spa at Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, and TABS.
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