Since Shakira and JLo’s Super Bowl’s Halftime show, social media’s been abuzz, and it’s not so much for its stellar theatrics, musical performance, insane choreography dance routine, or their talents or anything that might resemble hard work. Nope. Sadly, it’s about the female performers, their bodies and their age–all physical characteristics, what we see–and not what went into the entire performance. Now, for me–I’m not sure if I’m missing something–but when you know well ahead of time that Shakira and JLo are performing at a football concert, what would you expect? One quick search result will tell how these performers historically perform, and it shouldn’t come as a shock. But for many, it’s just a way to voice their negative opinions and bring together an online community to join in on the banter of such opinions, shaming and degrading these two women, regardless of their age, body or background, who, from my perspective, put on a great performance. Would this be my first choice to see at a football concert? Probably not, but to be honest, my opinion doesn’t matter and neither should yours.
I get it, we all have opinions. We all want to express and share them; after all, it creates community, and who doesn’t like to feel entitled and valued? But when it comes to the pettiness like this, I know I don’t, and quite frankly, I give these two women, moms for that matter, mad props, for their performance takes a certain degree of calibration. We don’t personally know them, and we don’t know their stories. But what is evident from this and previous performances is that these two women put in the work, sung their hearts out, shared their talents and skills with the world, and all we could do, and I’m speaking on behalf of the ladies, is turn our noses up in disgust. Why? Well, let me share my opinion, and it’s not one I share too often, but feel the need to put it out there, especially when it comes to women–ages, bodies, love, acceptance, and empowering women–we all have a choice.
What we choose to watch. What we choose to listen to. What we choose to expose our children to. What we choose to believe. What we choose to accept. What we choose to express. What we choose is our choice. BUT it doesn’t make YOUR choice, EVERYONE’S choice. This is where I struggle to understand, why are we so narrow-minded. Thinking our way is the right way (because we believe it), and if you don’t agree, we continue to push and defend our opinions as if the harder we push, the more likely we will cave. Really? When in our adult life has this ever happened? The chances are nil, so we need to Stop. Wasting. Time. On. Meaningless. Stuff. Save our time and energy, and use it towards bettering ourselves, our family, and our business.
Now, my opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the halftime show, but women as a whole. Ladies, why are we making this so hard? Why can’t we women make a decision and stand by it, not counter it? On one side, we’re cheering #girlpower #womensupportingwomen #womeninspiringwomen #womenencouragingwomen #womenempoweringwomen, yet on the other, we’re doing the complete opposite of what we’re preaching and teaching. Even I’m confused! Why can’t we women simply do as we claim to do–support, inspire, encourage, and empower each and every woman out there? We don’t have to agree on individual beliefs, but what we can and should all agree on, is supporting each other — inspiring each other, encouraging each other, empowering each other. This is what makes us all unique; we all have different gifts, talents, and skills, so why can’t we accept each other and respect our choices? It doesn’t change your life unless you choose it to. Again, keyword, choose. What we choose will determine our outcome. If we want to support, we need to be willing to support others, if we want inspiration, we need to inspire others, if we want to be encouraged, we need to encourage others, and if we, as women, want to empower women, we need to start with ourselves. What we reap is what we sow. By no means does whatever these women do, directly or even indirectly affect our life, unless we choose. So why not just let them be, keep our (negative) opinions and comments to ourselves or share amongst ourselves, together and hopefully someone within our inner circle will be the leader to create and be the change we wish to see. If we don’t like something, turn it off, keep scrolling, X out, opt-out, drop out, sneak out, whatever you need to do, again, do you!
As women, we speak out of both sides, we want to empower women to “own it” yet when women “own it” we don’t like “how” they own it. We want women, and others, to do “the things” but on your terms, right? So, let me ask you, how’s that going in our everyday life? Is everyone doing what we expect as expected, and we don’t have any complaints about it? Nope. When we set unrealistic expectations, and especially bring others into our “secret” plans, we will be left disappointed and feel a loss of control. We lash out, become defensive, and subject ourselves to belittling others for the sake of saving our egos. We feel backed in a corner, drowning, grasping at anything to stay afloat, because our pride and our worth is questioned. And women, we’re the worst at this–it’s not our fault–this has become the “expectation” and standard upon us. We, as a society, have unspoken rules and expectations that we women, must be, do, have, and when we try to revolt when something knocks us off track, we resort back to our initial programmed beliefs, “How dare she wear that, how dare she say that, how dare she…?” Why are we shaming other women for being, doing, and having a different agenda for living their lives on their terms? Do these “shamed” women speak the opposite about us? No, it’s only when we’re not living by the “norm” of what is and isn’t socially acceptable, by our standards and beliefs.
Why am I so passionate about this? Because I’ve been *that* woman and I’ve also been *that* woman. You see…I was *that* woman who lashed out and resented, criticized, complained, compared, and gossiped about other women. Why? Well, simply put, I was miserable and unhappy with myself and my life, and these “outbursts” allowed me to feel better about myself. They were a way to defend myself when I indirectly felt attacked. I didn’t look or act a certain way, and deep down, I wished I did. So, for me to feel better about myself, I tried to bring these women down to my level of thinking, but all that did was make me look insecure and desperate. And when I recognized that, out of embarrassment, it became my identity, it became my crutch and my story to justify why I did what I did–disempower (other) women so I could empower myself. This was also a lie, and I believed that to be a confident woman, you had to be haughty, arrogant, and fake.
Insecurity breeds comparison; comparison breeds fear; fear breeds criticism, and criticism breeds the need to be right (self-empowered).
That’s where many are taking the concept of empowered literally. It’s a little feeding their needs, not others. Again, justifying my beliefs and making up rules and excuses further down my miserable and unhappy hole. In there, I became desperate and alone, and as they say, misery loves company, so I sought out others who, too, would validate my beliefs. We’d sit around, gossiping, slandering, and knocking other women down for the sake of making ourselves feel better. The truth is, it didn’t work–ever. As the behavior became mundane, it wasn’t something I wanted to continue. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wanted something different–different company, different outcomes, different results. But first, I had to become someone different, and that all started within. I began by asking myself why these women triggered me. Once I was able to find out the why, I had a root and what was causing me to come undone and compare myself to others–deep down, I wanted to be them. When I saw these women, it was a reminder of who I wasn’t, and I resented myself in many ways because of it. Deep down, I wanted to be happy. I wanted to have a great body. I wanted to be noticed, to stand out for who I was, not who I wasn’t. So, where do I start, and how? Choice.
As women, we want what we “see,” forgetting what we want to feel and assume that if we get what we (visually) want, we’ll ultimately gain the feeling too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
But I pressed on, chasing what I was after–the “perfect” body. I’d see women, regardless of age, if they “looked” amazing, I wanted their physique. As a woman who spent the majority of her life struggling with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, self-esteem, and self-image, I was willing to do whatever it took to get it. I know first hand how it feels to see women like Shakira and JLo rock it on stage and think to myself if only I could look like that, and they’re how old? I must be doing something (else) wrong, I will need to push harder, try better, and I’d punish myself for not yielding the results. So when I chose to do something different, I, you guessed it, got different results. I turned to fitness to get me the “perfect” body and competed as a bikini fitness competitor. These women had the “perfect,” toned, sexy bodies I’d been chasing after, and I assumed if I finally got one too, I wouldn’t hate myself but finally love myself and become everything I wasn’t. However, this is NOT the recipe for happiness, worth or love. What it did teach me is, we have to fix what is broken on the inside before we can see what we love and are willing to accept on the outside. It taught me that taking care of our physical bodies is the easy part, maintaining it takes continuous hard work, dedication, and a TON of self-discipline. Getting the results you want, whether short-term or long-term, takes work–hard work, self-control, discipline, and continuing to show up for yourself, even when you don’t want or feel like it.
Competing had opened my eyes to a whole new world–judgment. In a competition, I knew I would be judged, but what I didn’t expect was to be judged by other women (for my choices). For too long, I lived in my own little bubble. Once I stepped out, I thought all that was behind me, until I realized there were women, much like my previous self, sitting comfortably on the sideline, ready and willing to judge me for my body, my looks, my itty bitty blinged-out bikini, thinking they know me, my story, and my objective And for the first time, I knew what it felt like to be *that* woman too. I was mocked, judged, ridiculed, had my choices questioned, and what I thought was bettering myself quickly turned to self-doubt until I saw a reflection of my old self in their words. And that was the moment I chose to be better, not for me, but them. I no longer wanted to be *that* woman who tries to disempower but *that* woman who empowers others to be the change, to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. I chose to be *that* woman to stand on stage and own hard work, to stand firm in who I am and what I believed. I chose to become my best and most confident self, for me, not them. My body and my choices are just that, mine. What I choose to do with and for my body is my choice.
As our mothers would say, if we don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If we don’t like what we see, move on. If we don’t like what Shakira and JLo choose to do, don’t listen or support them. If we don’t like what we saw on the Halftime show, next time, I hope we learned a lesson–choose an alternate action that best suits you, your family, and your beliefs. No matter how much we disagree or feel the need to speak out–negatively or positively–people are always watching and listening. It’s not what we do sometimes, it’s what we do all the time.
So, women, if we want to empower other women, we must first empower ourselves. We don’t have to agree or disagree on an outcome but we can choose to do better and take the high road and move forward. We have the power to choose how we react or respond. Let’s choose to respond with kindness, encouragement, love and respect–for ourselves, and each other.
As leaders for the next generation, are we behaving, leading, and modeling in a way that consistently aligns with our beliefs, words, and actions, and are they ones we can be proud to pass on to our youth? For me, the only thing I hope to pass on is: the power to choose. You have the power to choose. You have the power to be the change. You have the power to create your own story.
You don’t have to like something to be supportive, wish them the best, and move on. Be You and Do You.