When I was going through yoga training, it was standard practice to begin the day getting centered and giving thanks to the teachers who came before us and led the way. With today being International Women’s Day, I feel the same sentiment, that of standing on the shoulders of great women who built the base of our modern and open society, as well as to those who helped me personally along the way.
My first impression of feminism was seeing photos in magazines of women in the 1970s, decked out in the terrible polyester fashion of the day and they looked angry. As a girl, I knew I didn’t want anything to do with that type of radical group that seemed jaded. Their fight didn’t really resonate with me. I grew up in a family where my sisters and I were encouraged to climb trees, be sporty, smart and sassy all at the same time– and be proud of it. In hindsight, my upbringing was like the metaphor of the fish in water that doesn't know what water feels like. I had strong and independent female role models who led the way and had fun while laying the groundwork for my generation. Hindsight also highlighted the importance of having support and encouragement from my Dad to fuel my motivation and go after whatever goals I decided on. He never got used to us girls wearing makeup, but little did he know that a good mascara makes great soccer players and track athletes.
It wasn’t until I was a young teenager that I could understand and appreciate the concept of feminism and its importance. I came home from school one day to my Mom in the kitchen, ranting about why pads and tampons should not be taxed. My uber-cool teenage ego wanted her to chill out and my brain didn’t understand or really care about taxes. But that was a memorable moment that revealed inequity and an attempt at control over a natural process and symbolically, over women in general. I needed a bit of explanation why it made her so mad and when I got it, it made me mad too.
Sadly, I guess growing up has a way of shedding layers of innocence and preconceptions of how the world works, revealing the many inequities that remain to this day. Though, what still sticks to me from that funny memory is feeling very grateful to be a Canadian girl, to have freedom of choice and control over my decisions, my body, education and future. This freedom and choice empowers me everyday, to be the best version of myself and hope that my influence nudges girls of all ages along the way to do the same.
This International Women’s Day belongs to us all: girls from the past, who built the base, those of us continuing to build on it and to the little ones who are looking to the future.
So kudos, high-fives and big hugs today to all the gal pals: friends who get us, sisters who have our back, helpers who lift us out of sludgy times and are anchors of stability, wild ones who show us how to live and love freely, hilarious aunties to keep things light, spunky ones to keep us real, role models who show us how to get things done and nudge us in the right direction, teachers from past and present and Moms and Grannies who didn’t have it a good as we do now.
Let’s all keep smart, sporty, sassy and strong to keep building our cheerleader pyramid, to grow the base so more girls have steps up to the top!
"Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength."-G.D. Anderson