I.W.D. – IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE ONE?

I.W.D. – IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE ONE?
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In my short 25 years, I’ve been given the opportunity to connect with fascinating women. Powerful, intuitive, complex and incredibly talented; they continue to defy the conventional definition of womanhood.
 
Their stories have allowed me to connect with a greater purpose in many ways (life, career, love…) For me, that experience began at home – thanks Momma!
 
Never underestimate the power of shared experience. Often times, it allows us to know that we are not alone. That realization can be a surprisingly powerful salve that comforts and binds us to one another!
 
That’s in part, what inspired this little project… I’ll spare you the details but I will say that with this, my hope is to expand the idea of what it means to be a woman in today’s society.
 
Thank you to the Incredible women who so graciously accepted to participate and share a piece of themselves. You lead by example and inspire me and many others – continue to shine!
 
( * Disclaimer: This post is longer than usual but sooo worth the read – so grab yourself a glass, get cozy and read on! )
Love,
Dee
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“To me, international women’s day represents celebration and reflection on who we are and how far we’ve come. It’s a day to recognize the women breaking boundaries in every professional field, to recognize the “good” women – the ones helping other women up instead of holding them down, to bring light to the plight of humans all over the world who have incredible potential but don’t have equal rights simply because they are women, it’s about using my voice to give them one, and finally, it is about remembering the generations before me that fought for the rights i have as a woman. And remembering that it’s is up to each generation to hold on to those rights – and focusing on the action I need to engage in right now, to make sure we don’t lose them. With the current political climate, I also believe this last point for action – is more important than ever.”

On overcoming barriers…

“I face barriers every day as a woman in TV, as a woman working in sports – and to be honest, I often feel an extra layer of judgment/disadvantage being a woman of color. When you don’t fit into the normalcy of a familiar stereotype, both men and women don’t know how to handle you – and their reaction to the unfamiliar is often negative. Do I feel barriers every day? Yes. I don’t know the answer to “how do you overcome them?”  Maybe I’m still figuring it out – or maybe I’ve stopped trying to.

I’ve decided to try and be the best I can be, and love my own life, and move forward. To hell with worrying about fitting in with the rest – and that’s what I’m doing. I hope it’s the right course of action – but for now I’m concentrating on my being optimistic and happy and less on fitting in with social hierarchies – I spent my 20s doing that, and I’m over it. I’m currently reading “Lean In”, so maybe this answer will change in a couple weeks. If there’s anything life has taught me it’s Just do the things that make you happy.  If that’s fighting for the seat at the boardroom table – do it!! But if it’s going against the grain – screw what everyone else says, and do that. Whatever puts a smile on your face right before bed, and first thing in the morning – we should all fight for that right regardless of gender, to have the freedom to do what makes us happy.”

On staying energized…

“The source of my energy is 50% other women who inspire me – my mother is the ultimate #bosslady. I think Hillary Clinton represent that figure and inspiration for so many women, hence the massive shared heart break watching her loss. But we will all lose some. And that was an important reminder at why fighting alongside other women is so important and inspirational. I honestly get encouraged seeing the lives of other women, even bloggers and moms on Instagram and business owners on morning talk shows. The other 50% of my energy comes exclusively from my own dreams and the excitement of chasing them. If I lose that laser sharp focus, I’ll take a walk down to beach with my dog – something about the ocean reminds me of my tiny place in this big universe, and inspires me to just “go for it!”

I don’t consider myself a very partisan or political person – so I hate going back to Hillary Clinton here, but I do believe that myself – like so many women – are waiting to see how she comes back from her loss and how she deals with the ultimate discouragement. I think she has the potential to inspire so many women with her next move – I hope she rises to it! If anyone can, it’s a woman in her position. So I’m very curious about that – and eager to learn from it.”

 

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“International Women’s Day to me has more of a historic importance – remembering that at one time women weren’t recognized as they are today, and couldn’t contribute to the political, social, and economic climate, and that there are still women in the world today who do not have these rights and privileges. I think it is important that we keep International Women’s Day as a reminder of this, but in all honesty, I think in order to truly leverage the awareness of International Women’s Day, we should simply be doing our best to support all women in our daily lives. It’s hard – we don’t all have a lot of time, energy, resources, etc. but I think being cognizant of this is important.”
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On staying personal, creative…
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“I am a very emotional person and become very personally invested in all my projects – it is something that comes naturally – sometimes this is to my detriment. Originality is harder, but for me, a big part of maintaining originality in a creative project is by not thinking about it too much. As soon as a little spark of an idea gets into my head I’ll write it down and then just let it sit. My day to day, traveling, running, listening to music, will all inform whatever comes next.”
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On spiritual practice…
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“I don’t have a traditional spiritual practice but going for a run is like my spiritual practice – I do it regularly and when I do, it’s more like a mediation, I’m alone with my thoughts and mother nature.”
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“International Women’s Day for me is a reminder that while we’ve seen a lot of victories for women, but there is still far to go.  Having a global perspective promotes learning, cooperation and support. Geography, race, economics, sexual orientation, amongst other things affect gender equality.  There is not one story, one issue, or one answer, so I feel the “international” element is just as important as the “women’s” aspect.”
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On changing society through her work…
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“I work in a beauty focused industry and diversity has become a buzz word.  I would really love to see diversity and representation become the standard and not die as a trend.  I remember as a child, learning about people who looked like me and the profound affect it had.  It’s much easier to be bold for change, when you see yourself counted as part of the story. It gives confidence and encourages dreams, so for me, representation is of the utmost importance.”
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On becoming successful…
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“I am fortunate to say that I have not faced a lot of overt barriers to success. From the surface it can seem that there isn’t much change to press for.  My personal barriers have been a bit more nuanced.  I think like many women, I’ve found it difficult at times to find my voice.  When a man is firm and assertive.  He is viewed as those things and called a leader.  At the same time, when a woman or let’s even say a little girl exhibits those same qualities, she’s often viewed as bossy. In the past, that negative connotation made me want to shrink back, but I’ve learned to own it.  I’m a leader, even if my confidence makes others uncomfortable.”
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“International women’s day is a day that has been set aside to recognize and empower women.  The struggle for parity is a fight that is deeply engrained in our global history, and to have come this far with such progress is a celebrated accomplishment.
We are still not where we need to be, but definitely not where we used to be. Although many may see International Women’s Day as a day to recognize women, it should also be seen as an encouragement to all females. The world depends on us and we are the solution to somebody’s problem. Whether it be locally or globally, we have all been designed for purpose and it is our job to find out who we are and to pursue the purpose/problem we have been designed to solve.”
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On making a difference…
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“If I could change one aspect of society through my work it would be to create awareness surrounding the issue of women taking on the burden of the health status of their families. Although a good thing, it could also pose a threat to the woman herself in terms of being more vulnerable to infectious diseases as well as being a threat to receiving timely treatment if need be. Better innovations in awareness and prevention of this matter must be made to overcome such barriers for women in health.”
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On how to avoid getting discouraged…
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“The source of my energy and the power that keeps me from becoming discouraged or burned out is my faith in Jesus Christ. All I do is believe by faith that Jesus Christ exists and believe by faith God’s promises in His word to encourage me when I am discouraged and to strengthen me when I am burned out. Jesus is my source 24/7, without Him I cannot survive.”——————————————————

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“It’s a day to celebrate all women globally, their massive contribution to their families and societies as a whole. It’s tremendously important that we take the time to have and to celebrate International Women’s Day, especially in this day and age, where ALL women should be equal and should have the same rights regardless of race, colour and religion. But that’s STILL not the case and having International Women’s Day is a constant reminder of not just celebrating what women has accomplished but it should also be a day that women stand and fight for those living in countries where women have no rights and no voices.

Women are mothers, wives, sisters,  aunts, friends, colleagues and they form an integral part of our everyday lives. Where would the world be without women?”

On leadership lessons…

“Aside from the fact that the lessons you need to learn never stop throughout your career, one of the thing that really stuck to me is that to be a leader, one must have the grit, the resilience and the fortitude to see things through until the every end. Grit is the strength of character. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties as there will be some difficulties and fortitude is
courage in pain or adversity. Women have these essential qualities, leaders or not, they are made of iron will and courage and they demonstrate that every single day.”
On getting where she is today…

“While I grew up in a highly patriarchal society with my grandfather as the patriarch of the family where all decisions, big and small came from… I was actually very fortunate to have been raised by strong, powerful women who speaks their mind. Who knows their truth, recognizes their strengths and values and have instilled them in us. Had it not for my grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends and teachers, I wouldn’t have had the courage to go after my dreams. Knowing that I have their love and support even during those times they don’t even fully understand what I do, is a big push for me to continue reaching for the stars.

Women leaders both inspire and fascinate me. I never thought about it until now but most of my mentors and teachers have actually been women. They are multi-skilled, multi-passionate, multi-tasking everyday superheroes. All women are.”

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“International Women’s Day means a few different things to me. For one, it is a date to celebrate being a woman and to raise a glass to all the inspiring women in my life…and there are many! I also take time to reflect on the struggles we as women have faced and continue to face. While we still have a ways to go for gender equity, I feel hopeful for the future generations of women. In my role as a mother of a daughter and a son, it is very important for me to raise them both with feminist values.”
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On creating change..
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“Before I worked in fashion, I was a special education teacher. While the two professions are quite different, the main similarity is that I always want people to feel confident and be the best version of themselves. We live in a society with a lot of self-hate: hating our bodies, dreading aging and yearning for photoshopped perfection. If I can help a client to be comfortable in their own skin and feel empowered, then I hope I have helped to make an impact on reversing the status quo. I also like to feature strong women entrepreneurs on my Instagram blog. In doing so, I am celebrating their accomplishments and hope that their stories are inspirational to other young women.”

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“It means a lot to me. I think over the last couple of years, we’ve been able to see a shift in awareness around the day. Intersectional feminism is becoming a true priority and the discussions, although difficult – are happening. It’s extremely important that we have this day… to be honest, we should have at least a month because there is so much work to do and I want to read more stories by women across the spectrum daily!”

On making  a difference through her work…

“I would love to see my work encourage others to open the conversation more without being defensive. It’s hard when you’re unlearning but our reality is a little too… REAL now. We need to let go of the ego and LISTEN to each other. Recognizing our privileges and sharing experiences will shift the narrative even more.”

What barriers have you faced?…how did you overcome them?

” All kinds. I’m not formally educated and there are moments, especially in corporate settings – where it shows. I’m also a Woman of Colour. Enough said. It hasn’t been easy but I’ve overcome this stuff with a lot of hard work and research, self love and an unapologetic attitude. I make it a point to call out my own barriers before those who would present them to me do – then… I keep it moving and let them see what I can contribute. It’s corny.. but confidence helps me immensely and being confident takes daily work.”

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“For me, International Women’s Day, represents a moment in time for people to pause and give attention to such a powerful demographic of people. It is very important that we have a women’s day  but its even more important to encourage this spotlight and recognition on a daily basis. The strongest people I know, are Women!!”

On staying original, personal…

“My creative endeavors could not exist without including who I am and my consciousness as a person. I’m heavily influenced by emotions and my heart. The people around me and my own lived experience is the very reason why my art exists in the first place. Art for me is about releasing something which may feel stuck inside of me. Once I have released it , the hope is that what I’ve created will impact someone else to release something in turn. I’m not sure if the place I create from makes my work original but what I do know is that every piece I make brings a little bit more calm into my world. If I know that something I made created a moment of impact for someone else….then Id say, that’s what makes my work original.”
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On spiritual practice…
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“My work directly stems from my spiritual practice. This practice heavily involves Mindfulness. My recent body of work, The Invisible Majority, was created in response to the violent injustice of melanated bodies which has been happening in abundance here in Canada and America. I felt the need to create work, to first help me navigate my own feelings but then to also create a series which would put people of colour in a royal and honoring light. Using Mindfulness as my framework in life has allowed to me see the beauty in our existence alone. Noticing the smallest details of who we are, even down to something as simple as ones breathe. Forcing myself to pause and feel the wind, look at the trees, the way the sun looks when its resting on our brown and black skin. My spiritual practice and my desire to fill people of colour with pride found there way to each other.”——————————————————

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“International Women’s Day is very important to me because it’s a symbolic day for women from all backgrounds around the world. It celebrates women from the past that fought for our rights, women from the present that work toward a better world for us, and future women that deserve to live in a society that respects and allows them the freedom to make their own choices.  I believe it’s important to have a Women’s Day in order to remind us each year that our rights are not granted and that many women in the world are still fighting for their most basic rights! Some people would say that every day should be Women’s Day and I agree with them.  But it doesn’t hurt to have a special day celebrating women to act as a reminder to help and respect each other as women.”

 On ways to help women…

“If I could change one aspect of our society through my work it would be to help women stop competing and being so judgmental with each other (which I can apply to myself too). I believe we can be our own worst enemy. Being strong and free as women is being able to make any choice we want and live with them even if others disagree. So many women limit their own potential because of the trepidation that comes with what other women will think. Next time you start to judge the woman next to you, try to remember that it’s her life and she has the freedom to do what she wants. How can we ask men to respect us if we don’t respect each other first?”

On staying positive..

“To be honest with you I don’t focus on barriers. I don’t want to set a mindset that I will encounter barriers just because I am a woman.  If I do, I believe it will eventually become my truth. Yes, at times I felt that I didn’t get someone’s trust or the opportunity because I was a woman. But I quickly realized that those things only slow me down as long as I allow them to do so. To overcome any barrier, just believe and act as if it doesn’t exist.”——————————————————

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“Yes, it’s definitely important to have International Women’s Day. It has taken a long time for women to fight for what we have and get where we are now, thus it’s important for us to continue fighting and to raise awareness of issues related to gender equality. Having International Women’s Day is a great way for more people to celebrate women – what we have done, what we are contributing currently, and what we will do to make the world better.”

On making a difference..

“I think there are certainly more than one aspect that I’d like to change through my work. Being an active member in the media & advertising world, I’d like to see more women in executive positions and be in charge of the creative direction of advertising campaigns. Because sadly, most of the decision makers are still while male, even for brands targeting female consumers.”

Advice for future PR mavens…

“Never adjust your belief or change your values for the industry or for a job position. Be the game-changer on the front line, and always believe that you can make a difference. Also, don’t afraid to speak up and stand up for yourself.”

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“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to show appreciation and respect towards the women in our lives and society for the difference they make in the world every day. From motherhood to politics, women deserve to be celebrated!”

On why it’s important to celebrate today..

“I think International Women’s Day is a reminder for us to reflect on the women who have influenced us and who are making waves, as well as an opportunity for us to reach out to the women around us to tell them how much they mean to us, that they matter, that who they are and what they do counts.  It also serves as a day that encourages society to champion women not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.
So yes, to answer your question, it’s very important!”
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On ways to create change…
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“Help women step away from the cage of association and comparison – and encourage more freedom in their lives to unleash their inner creativity and joy. As a society, we box women with labels. I want to inspire women to step out of those boxes, follow their hearts, and live with purpose.”

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“To be honest I’ve never really celebrated International Women’s Day before, but the last couple of years I started to think about it a lot. I think it’s really important to have one, but I also find it a bit contradicting since I would’ve imagined that we as women would be equal to men by now. It saddens me to think that we have come from far, but actually haven’t come that far. There is still a lot of inequality and a lot of work to do. Also International Women’s Day for me, is to celebrate other women and to let them know that we have to be there for each other. If we as women stick together, be nice and help each other out, we can accomplish so much while having a lot of fun!”
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On facing challenges…
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“I actually don’t have a particular philosophy or practice and sometimes I find it hard to stay optimistic in certain situations. But I think for me, humor and having a good laugh, even about yourself helps. Don’t take everything so seriously, life is too short to not enjoy life. If I’m being negative, I try to remind myself of my blessings and the things (doesn’t matter how little they are) that are good in my life. I think everyone is insecure at times, but I also try to think of a response I would give to a friend if she would come to me with similar problems and that’s the advice I would then give myself. Most of the times it’s so much easier to give good advice instead of taking it yourself. And surely, I’m also still learning and definitely not there yet.”
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How did you get where you are today & who helped you along the way?
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“I’m not yet where I want to be, far from it actually. But I’m working on it, now more than ever. I try to think of the things I really love to do, think of my passion and how I can pursue doing that everyday for the rest of my life. I doubt almost everything and overthinking is something I do very well, but I try to let it go and just focus on my passion and being honest to myself. Not thinking about what other people would expect, but really stay true to myself. I have to say it’s starting to work and I start to see this more clearly. Also, my husband is the opposite of me in many things, so I learn a lot from him. One of the things I’ve learned or I’m still learning, is to let go of my insecurities, just try it anyway and daring to pursue my own dreams.”————————————————

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“Is it important? Absolutely ! We are the core of this world . I mean let’s be honest we don’t really need a day to remind us how strong, powerful and valuable we are but I truly find it crucial to have one day, just one day out of 365 days to exchange , to acknowledge , to be ” publicly ” proud of each other with no shame but only proudness!”

If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?

“This racial war ! It {makes} me sick to my stomach !”
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What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field and how did you overcome them?
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“When I started in this music thing it was like entering into a ” mans world “. So picture me, a 16 year old teenager who doesn’t look like a teenager at all; very developed for her age who only has one thing in her mind… making her dreams come true. Very quickly, people try to take advantage of you because in their mind they know that you want to make it so bad and that you’re ready to do almost anything to live your dream.
So often I had to settle for less. I had to starve myself to lose weight because I couldn’t fit in a size 4. I had to be portrayed as this ” yes woman ” with no opinion, no ground. I had to compromise on a lot of my fundamental values just to be taken seriously. […] So worked harder, wiser. I put my foot down even when I knew it could cost me a contract or ruin my credibility.  I had to fight to get my voice heard. But today, more than ever I wanna be that voice for other woman.”
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Again, a big thank you to these fantastic women! We need more of you in this world!
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