Since doing UIO’s fantastic podcast, On Girls’ Rights with Lindsey Turnbull, founder of Miss Heard Media, I’ve been thinking a lot of about what it takes to exercise our rights, if you will. Though girls have a right to grow-up without undue pressures, to reject objectification and sexism, the right to align with your true values and live intentionally now, it takes confidence, some self-love and great character strengths amongst a few attributes to do so.
Without confidence, for example, it is easy to get side-tracked, even at my age. Here I am in Cannes this week and the next and the next attempting to learn French at my ripe middle age. Argh! Sitting in the classroom with dynamic students from around the globe who are already having conversational French, it feels quite easy to slip into a dark space, lower my head and sneak out of the room at the first opportunity.
Thankfully, I have put on a brave face, dug deep for a little bit of confidence and hung in there, thus far. Though today, I nearly bolted when I learned that my beginners class, where everyone is world’s ahead of me anyhow, would be combined with Paul’s intermediate class, where people are having outright conversations.
No can do, I said in English. I will go next door and write my blog in English, thank you. As I prepared to leave, one of my classmates pointed out that it would be a wonderful opportunity to listen and someone else from Paul’s class spoke encouragingly to me. Only then did I look to my character strength of perseverance.
I am a lot of things, but not a quitter, I reminded myself and so I stayed and felt more confident for it. Remember that… when you are a footstep away from walking off that football pitch or leaving that social club where no one is talking to you.
Anyhow, I have a long way to go, after only five days of language school, before I’ll be ready to jump into a full blown conversation with a fluent French speaker, except for with my friend Dominque—si gentil.
Fortunately, I have her and Paul, who is far more advanced at French than he likes to admit, cheering me on, but that is not always the case when one is trying to live life intentionally. There will be stumbling blocks in the way whether it is do with academics, sports, or relationships, for example. The key is to stay on track and take anything new or old for that matter one step at a time for the best outcome.
Not so easy, is it, especially when it comes to rejecting sexism and objectification, for example. Lindsey points out in our podcast that the more you love yourself, the easier it is to say no to things that don’t serve you. Some things like going further in a sexual relationship before comfortable are in your face decisions to make but others like considering why you dress a certain way or want to look a certain way is another.
A few years ago, while visiting Miami, I saw a group of teenage girls strolling through town with taffeta see through dresses and trousers and nothing underneath. I immediately thought of the shift in values and norms in society and the narrowing gap between being a girl and a woman, not that I think this type of dressing is acceptable for anyone. However, a woman has far more of a chance of making an informed decision and dealing with the repercussions of the outcomes than a teenage girl, who thinks it is a fun way to show off her body and gain attention.
Quite frankly, it is unlikely that dressing provocatively publicly serves anyone. But if everyone seems to be doing it and society encourages it in the name of being liked and accepted, then it’s hard not to get side tracked. But as Lindsey points, everyone doesn’t mean us well along the journey. We have to dig deep to exercise our rights to overcome. That’s where the confidence comes in, along with character strengths and self-love.
Now about that conversational French, I’m working on it. Accorder dans trois semaines (for some straight talk in French)! Meanwhile, check out On Girls’ Rights on iTunes, our website or wherever you listen to podcasts.