This is a topic that has come up over and over lately in my day to day, so I felt inclined to share.
Growing up I had an aversion to pink. Why pink? Because girls were supposed to wear pink. Throughout my entire life I have taken issue with being categorized. I was a tom boy until highschool when I was forced more or less to keep speed. I could throw a football (still can), I had a mean baseball pitch, I was a golfer, and took great pride in my 49er jersey. Basically, anytime I was supposed to do something because I was x y z, I did the complete opposite. I have always been good at following directions, and a grounded, law abiding citizen, but I bent and broke things often in order to rebuild them differently. When I was young I was quiet and shy outside my household (which was probably for the best). I always had one best friend and liked it that way.
Once I hit highschool I started opening my mouth and “trouble” followed close behind. While eloquent, I got myself kicked out of a “Sunday” school session or two and had several arguments with professors about the holes in their logic. I was also bullied, spit on, and on the verge of graduating highschool early to avoid having to be in that environment any longer. Call it a blessing or a curse, but now I can attribute most my career success to the ability to pick ideas, norms, and cultures apart and very quickly put them back together (hence the self-taught marketing/messaging expertise).
Once I hit college, the whole day to day “girly” thing, that was barely there to begin with, went to the wayside. My normal daytime attire was made up of one of my many hoodies and jeans. Whether it was in a macro econ theory class where I was one of two girls out of 25 or chemistry where women made up about 25% of the class, I soon realized that I had been preparing myself for this fight most my life, or so I thought. At SRJC I had several professors who really impacted my life. One was my micro and macro econ teacher Jack Wegman. Notorious for the lack of retention in his classes due to their sheer difficulty, I was up for the challenge in this elective much to my advisor’s dismay. It was tough, really tough, but I found myself watching the Bloomberg channel and reading The Economist. One day after class “Wegman” as he liked to be known, came up to me, all terrified 5’4’’ 110lbs of me and says “do not worry about your grade, you get this...you really get this unlike many of these other kids, you’re smart.” A victim of severe test anxiety and the lacking skill set to master multiple choice tests, I knew I was up against an uphill battle in college. The course ended with about 15 down from 45 students, 2 were female. The next semester in Micro Econ, I was in a study session with about 50 people. After mustering the courage to answer a question that left the room silent, I had to get up early to head to another class. Wegman struck again, “This girl is smart, you want to be her friend.” Needless to say, I dragged my embarrassed butt and hoodie to my next class.
I carried this memory with me throughout my entire education. UCSB was very large, large classes, large campus and I loved every moment. I loved being able to be lost in a crowd and took no issue with being in classes of 150-300 students (not to mention the beach). In my first semester of school I was sitting in a 250 person Organic Chemistry class and in walks this beautiful blonde. The epitome of the stereotypical sorority girl, my first thought was, “she looks like an idiot” and I went on my merry way. A couple months later in that same seat in the same class (I’m a creature of habit), in walks Dr. Bruice and her giant fluffy white dog to announce the top 10 students who would be invited to lunch with her. Low and behold said mystery sorority girl was on that list. My stomach dropped to floor and I wanted to cry. Not because I was disappointed she was on the list, but because I was appalled by my reaction to her. I had bought the same BS fed to girls our entire life that the pretty girl is a dumb girl. Even me, who sat with pride in classes that were almost all men and refused to follow the norm. Not to mention this was UCSB, which housed some of the country’s most elite students.
I’ll never forget going home that day and looking in the mirror. This is what I worked for all this time? I was showing my fight for women’s equality by covering up my figure and not at expressing any style? If nothing else my grandmother would be so disappointed!? While my day time attire continued to be the same in college, something had to be done. I went to MAC with my roommate who knew everything about make-up, hair, and style. An artist, she was excellent at pairing and creating her incredibly unique style. I had a grasp on how to put make-up on and was very good with color composition. I still do not wear makeup daily, but I really started to enjoy it at this point and how you could playfully create a masterpiece with your face!
Fast forward to a little over two years ago (in grad school I was a mess and didn’t take care of myself at all), to when I met Dae Williams and Gianna Williams. Dae floated an idea while working on her social media that I should let Gianna cut/style my hair. My hair? Cut it off? But my hair has been long forever and skillfully pulled back tight almost every day. We all see where this went. Feeling beside myself I shot Gianna a text and scheduled an appointment for that weekend to cut it off, really off. Shortly to follow were clothing swaps, styling sessions with Dae as well as using all her products, regular appointments with my Esthetician Holly Curtin, and a focused cultivation of my style. It had always been there, but never shared with the world. My style is very classic with dashes of modern flare and when I look in the mirror today I love what I see. I hope every woman in their life gets the opportunity to look in a mirror and say, ‘damn I look good!!!!!!!!’
The pretty girl is not the dumb girl. Taking pride in your appearance Is a beautiful thing. I had many image issues and severe insecurities throughout my entire life. I always say that women in this society are bid against eachother from birth. We are in constant competition over things that don’t matter. We believe if a woman is well put together or who has skillfully applied make-up they can’t possibly be smart. A well put together guy isn’t stupid, so why am I? In fact to be successful in business you don't need to think like a man, you need to think like a boss.
Luckily I found my eye opening moment that shifted my focus and helped me find out who I really was and how to share it. Hell, I am going to be in this body for the rest of my life, I might as well love what I’m looking at! If women really can do anything, they should also be allowed to be WHO THEY ARE in the process. If I feel like Mark Zuckerberging it I will, if I feel like wearing a form fitting dress and 4 inch heels, I’m going to do that also. Does any of this affect my intelligence!!??
What would Wegman say?