‘The strongest women are those that build up the women around them, instead of tearing them down’
I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now and as is often the case with my unplanned posts they come about as a result of a certain incident, life lesson or trending hashtag! As its International Day Of The Girl it seems an apt time to post this! IDOTG aims to raise awareness about a number of female issues including equal opportunities for women. If we can help support and empower each rather than trying to compete we can help each other grow. Together we can challenge stereotypes, sexism and strive for equal opportunities.
Pics taken by my friend and talented photographer Anna Sandul
I will begin positively, recently I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of inspiring women. Most of them are self-made entrepreneurs, including Photographers, Bloggers, YouTubers (or all of those at the same time). Not only am I filled with admiration for their work ethic and enthusiasm for what they do but also by their active support for each other! I fricking dig that! Nobody got to the top without asking for help, and we all have our limitations but together we can really grow, helping motivate and inspire each other! However, over the last month my attention has also been drawn to when this has not been the case. From reading hurtful and jealous online comments made from one blogger about another to seeing tweets that actively reinforce a divide between women who have different body shapes, I have come to the realisation greater female support is needed!
Growing up with a sister gave me an insight into what sisterhood was all about. Yes, you get annoyed and piss each other off – the amount of arguments we would have over wearing each others clothes (or rather just wearing hers) used to drive my parents crazy! I was the younger one so I would get all the hand-me-downs, times have changed thankfully! Yes, we would fight and annoy each other but in the end we would forgive, forget and move on – or at least I did
My experiences at the all-girls school I attended was less straight-forward. I definitely had my fair-share of ups and downs and realised the dichotomy of how women can be each other’s biggest supporters but likewise, each others worst enemies! As most girls do, you make friends, find your clique but as we grew up (around our GCSE’s) we became more aware of our differences, our goals, objectives and what we planned to do for the rest of our life. This gave rise to feelings of jealousy and spitefulness and yes, I got bullied and had some unpleasant experiences but having strong friendships with other girls helped me overcome this.
Fast forward a few years and I’m flying around the world on modelling jobs and castings- girls literally forming a line out the door to land the ‘dream’ job. Competition was fierce and at times potentially, cut-throat. As mentioned recently in my post on body confidence models are wracked with insecurities due to the nature of the job and whilst you may be the perfect model for one job this probably won’t be the case for the other 20 castings you go to! This you would expect would be the breeding ground for women tearing each other down, judging each other and thereby reinforcing the industry’s narrow beauty standards. However, my experience was quite the contrary and in fact I found one of the best aspects of the job was the friends I made and the relationships nurtured. We would often ask: Did you hear back about the job? Is your option confirmed? We were happy for each other if at least one us got the job! I guess the mentality of ‘in it together’ and comradeship came into play. We all knew how difficult it was and through the trips abroad together to the far less glamorous model apartments we shared, we found a common ground that bound us closely together.
It also made me realise that forming close bonds with girl friends, actually progressed my career and helped me book jobs. From meeting women who were either photographers, agents, PR to makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, writers and journalists. Recently a close friend and photographer recommended me to a luxury brand I hadn’t worked with before and now I’ve collaborated with the brand on a few projects. As the Blogger/YouTuber industry continues to grow more clients are looking out for the ‘right’ influencer and gladly welcome suggestions and introductions! Increasingly clients are whisking away groups of female bloggers to promote their brands and choosing a group of bloggers that are already friends is a huge plus.
Instead of looking to compete we should look at ways in which we can help each other grow. Naturally, we compare ourselves but one person’s gain, doesn’t mean your downfall – there’s room for us all! Each of us can own our differences whilst celebrating others. One of my favourite quotes is this:
‘The strongest women are those that build up the women around them, instead of tearing them down.”
Someone that inspires me is Facebook COO’s Sheryl Sandberg, who launched the Lean In campaign to draw attention to the need for women to to empower each other. Sandberg challenges the stereotype that women should compete with each other in order to achieve and instead explains when women club together everyone benefits!
Who inspires you? I’d love for you to share your experiences with me below in the comments! Is there a time when you’ve helped a friend, or maybe they’ve helped you? Did supporting your girlfriends make you feel good? Are you part of a local girl gang or have you created your own squad? If not give it a go – you may find a mentor and also be one!
What I’m wearing: