I rolled my eyes at the television, despising the number of commercials I couldn’t skip because I chose to lower the cable bill the previous month. The content of the commercials varied but the profiles and faces of each brand were the same. Young, slender, gorgeous women; fair skin, light color hair, and blue or green eyes.
Alas, a fitness commercial that was right in my wheelhouse. I enjoyed health and wellness advertisements that showcased the strength of women. However, they fit the same algorithm and eventually, they grew to upset me too. I knew I could do everything the woman in these videos had done but it was unlikely a woman like me, an everyday woman, would ever reach a platform with a substantial number of viewers. I remembered, I didn’t fit the profile. The bar had already been set by what was put out in mainstream media. My confidence was instantly shot. What was supposed to inspire me, discouraged me because I didn’t feel represented.
There was nothing remotely glamorous about me in that moment. I had mismatched pajamas and my hair was a mess. My mind started racing and I refused to accept the feeling of inferiority. I looked at the tv and said, “I’m pretty badass too”. Now realizing I hadn’t given any verbal context, my husband looked over at me and said, “uh, yes you are”. What we see affects our view of what is good enough and it’s up to us ladies to know our worth because mainstream media will not remind you…yet.
Why is there still a lack of diversity across large platforms in 2017? I had an awareness focused discussion with my daughter to help her recognize that although underrepresented we were still powerful. I want her to speak up and say I have a place here and you should take notice! I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said she wanted to be a yoga teacher and travel the world. At the time, I had just started my yoga business and she had played a key role in helping me launch. Her dream had always been to be a nurse. What changed?
She was inspired by what I was doing. Not the woman on tv, nor the woman on the billboard, me. She could relate to me. We looked the same. I was familiar. She saw I gave everything 100%. We glorify the trends featured in mainstream media and allow that to mold the standard of what is worthy of attention and what is not. When we do this, we enable companies to continue building profiles of their ideas of perfection.
How do we empower the everyday woman?
Don’t be afraid to share a compliment: If something motivates you in some way, say something. Let the person involved know what they’re doing inspires you. Don’t let your compliment go unsaid. A person may not be aware that they are inspiring someone.
Share the love: Share posts that move you and push you to reach higher on social media. Help the everyday woman become mainstream. Support the initiative of diversity and inclusion. Do your part by refusing to skip over stories about local heroes.
Be one with your inner badass: Write a list of all the badass things you do. Include things you’re proud of, milestones you’ve reached, your strongest qualities. Recognize that you are an amazing everyday woman. Believe it first but only because it is true. Your story deserves to be shared. Your face is worthy of being seen. There should be someone out there representing you and encouraging women who find themselves in similar circumstances to keep pushing.
Challenge mainstream media outlets: Ask why there is a false image of the everyday woman and why there’s a lack of diversity representing their platforms. These companies have massive followings and are shaping this generation and the next. This cycle is hindering the image of greatness and promoting the idea that you must fit a profile to be recognized. We can change that!
The everyday woman is powerful. It is time to empower them and show them that they are the ones that truly inspire the children who will lead our future.