If you follow me on Instagram, then it is no secret that I am an unabashed cheerleader and supporter of women. I want women to accomplish every “impossible” feat imaginable such as: running for President of the United States (and winning), snagging all the top 10 spots on the Forbes wealthiest list…joining forces to impeach Trump.
Women are superhuman, surviving in a world that wasn’t built to appreciate all of the little miracles they perform every day. I didn’t always champion women. I used to be a mediocre friend, disinterested in building up those around me. After working for a true devil in Prada, I started to believe that most women of power and influence were generally unstable, cruel and intolerable.
That belief changed a few years ago when a male mentor of mine told me that women are the harshest critics of women. “We (men) don’t need to do much,” he said, “you guys do a fantastic job of tearing each other apart on your own.” I left his office in shock, but also in agreement, and made a vow to do better.
One of my intentions for 2020 is to invest in women. I recently read Michelle Obama’s Becoming — it was fantastic and much more candid than I thought it would be — and my biggest takeaway was that despite the demands of being FLOTUS, a wife and a mother, she was deliberate about maintaining her female friendships and learning from other women. If one of the busiest women on the planet can accomplish this, then surely I have no excuse.
Here are some ways I will empower women this year:
1. Be a better listener. As in shut my mouth, turn off the distractions and provide my undivided attention. Have you ever had a conversation with someone that was fully present and listened to you? It makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world. When you listen, you’re telling the other person they matter. You’re creating a safe space for the sharing of emotions, concerns and my favorite, ideas. It means so much and it costs nothing.
2. Hire women. Very often, my peers in the industry ask if I can recommend someone for a role they’re looking to hire. Moving forward, I will look within my network of highly qualified women and if the best woman fits the job, I’m going to fully support her candidacy. This also applies to if/when I have roles to fill on my own team.
3. Compliment them. This past Sunday, I went to brunch with a friend and felt a woman staring at me from three tables away for 30 minutes. Just when it was starting to become uncomfortable, I saw her get up out of the corner of my eye and approach our table. She said, “I am so sorry that I’ve been staring at you. It’s just that you’re so beautiful and I loved the way you styled your hair.” I was stunned. There’s just something about a compliment from a woman that makes you feel like you’ve won the Nobel Peace Prize. There have been countless times I’ve admired women from afar and wanted to say something, but I didn’t. I won’t make that mistake again.
4. Be kind. Women juggle so much. Husbands, partners, demanding bosses, rambunctious children, needy siblings, endless chores, suffocating to-do lists, all while having to look good, be feminine and smile. It’s a wonder we’re able to hold it all together! The next time I come across a woman who isn’t being exactly nice, I’m going to respond with kindness. Maybe her nanny quit that morning, or she just got some tough news from the doctor, or she had a huge fight with her best friend; you never know what obstacles someone is facing and it’s best to lead with compassion.
I don’t expect everyone to walk away from this letter wanting to be a feminist, but having the courage to root for women has allowed me to become the woman I’ve always wanted to be: a whole woman.