There’s a lot of talk about female empowerment these days. Listening to a lot of it, one would assume that it’s something that needs to be given or allowed by the patriarchal status quo. Yet more might suggest that it’s something that should be taken by force from a society that’s withholding it. For many of us, however, empowerment is neither something that can be given, nor taken but rather, it’s something that needs to be realized. Realization is a very personal journey and with this in mind, female empowerment becomes self empowerment on a gender-wide scale. There’s something satisfying about the image of women all over the world that the power was inside them all along. Of course, female empowerment is as much a sociological and economic issue as a personal one, with a gender pay gap that looks set to continue for centuries. Change, however great, is made up of the actions of individuals.
That said, empowerment is not a low-hanging fruit, nor is it something that all women can reach via the same path. If you’ve ever been mistreated by a parent, under appreciated by an employer, abused by a partner or taken for granted by a ‘friend’ who just keeps on taking, your journey towards self empowerment will be very different to those of your sisters.
Empowerment is a state of mind, and while there are some who may be able to will themselves into this state voluntarily, for others they may as well be asked to figure out cold fusion. The mind and body are inextricably related, however, and if you’re struggling to feel empowered from the inside out, you might consider ways in which you can empower yourself from the outside in.
Strength without, strength within
For my money, I think every woman should incorporate strength training into their daily regimen. A lot of women see female bodybuilders and determine that that particular form of feminine beauty isn’t for them, but there’s more to strength training than developing big muscles. In fact, since women produce far less Human Growth Hormone than their male counterparts, you’re less likely to get a muscular figure no matter how hard you train. Female bodybuilders follow a very strict exercise, diet and supplement regime to get as big as they do.
Strength training is great for female empowerment as it shows women that they can be capable of physical feats that they probably never imagined possible if they apply themselves with dedication and commitment. When women become strong, they feel strong and the world around them becomes that much less threatening. Likewise training in martial arts is not only a great tool for self-actualization but a great way to build self-confidence and better handle anger and stress.
It pains me to see women slaving away on treadmills and cross trainers in the pursuit of aiming for a target weight. Strength training will give your metabolism a boost so that you will burn more calories when stationary or even asleep as well as being a lot more fun and therapeutic than slogging away on a treadmill.
Dressing to impress yourself
Clothes maketh the man, but do they maketh the woman? Well, of course not. And come to think of it, they don’t maketh the man either. Nonetheless, it would be unfair to deny the extent to which the clothes we wear do affect our psychology and our behavior. A lot of women, especially mothers, simply stop caring about the way they dress and dress only for comfort and utility. While there’s currency in not caring about how the world perceives you, how you perceive you is extremely important. If your current wardrobe inhibits your ability to feel formidable or classy or desirable or worthy, something needs to change. Whether you choose to armor yourself with a designer power suit or a tasteful dress from Anthony’s Ladies Apparel you deserve to dress to impress yourself. You may surprise yourself with how much more confident, alert and empowered you feel when you give your wardrobe a tweak.
Beauty is not a bad word
When it comes to beautifying yourself with makeup or cosmetics, the debate rages on as to whether this is or isn’t empowering for women. Neither side of the debate is wrong, but it’s a personal decision and those who feel that women shouldn’t need to wear makeup shouldn’t shame those who choose to. While beauty and empowerment needn’t necessarily go hand in hand, doing what you can to feel beautiful can be a great first step towards feeling empowered. So, if this sounds like your jam, don’t be afraid to go for it!