Recently, I was talking to my mom and she was sharing some issues she’s faced in the workplace and in her daily life, alone. That had me thinking of many other situations women face daily, in different situations and environments, from their place of work to the places they shop at.
One of the many examples to give, is the most common one, at their place of work. There have been protests and issues circulating in society regarding the wage difference between men and women. The presented argument is, if a woman can complete the same tasks and fulfill responsibilities and duties the same, if not better than men, then why is wage difference between the genders still an issue? I personally believe that employers and/or companies should base someone’s credibility on their education rather than their gender or race. To make it more unfair than it is, women are paid less but ethnic women (Hispanics, Asians, etc.) are paid even less. We are expected to do more and do better, but are not compensated enough for the quality of the work being done.
Then we hear the constant comments on what we can and can’t do, who we can and can’t be or what we should and shouldn’t do. She can’t design a petite line, she’s too fat. A wrestler? She’s too pretty for that. Her personality does not match her look at all. Being a woman includes listening to what others have to say about your personal life and decisions. Doesn’t matter what profession or persona, a woman is criticized from her brain to her toes, and it becomes worse when entering the workforce. A woman is expected to be a teacher, nurse or housewife, not a CEO, president or a powerful individual in the community. Not that those jobs are at all bad, but the expectations should be set higher. As women, we need to stand up for our professions, because there are young girls who want to play sports that are limited to boys and are told to go play with Barbies instead.
Another one that I struggle to understand is unsaid, but is still quite important. Clothing. Yes, clothes is an issue and here’s why. A Saint Laurent striped sweater, for example, sells for $240 less in the men’s section than the women’s section. Though Saint Laurent is a high-end brand, the product (striped sweater) is fairly the same, but the men’s sweater is still being sold at a price less for women. Maybe the manufacturing and production work costs more, but how much more could it be?
Growing up, I was stir-fry crazy over fashion. I wore my feather boa and my aunt’s clear platforms just to strut down the stairs, halls and into the kitchen to show myself off. On TV, we are so used to seeing beautiful women, with petite figures and features, wearing an exquisite outfit, hair in the air, with a flawless finish of makeup on. Though that’s slowing changing with the increasing representation of models of unique shapes and sizes, but encouraging a specific look is what we should not be doing. Brands like Dove and Nike are breaking beauty and societal standards by creating realistic and relatable expectations and presentations to individuals. Showing different women in different countries with different interests, that somehow, all share a story. Having commercials and TV shows/movies expressing the idea and belief of loving yourself unconditionally, despite the flaws and insecurities, are needed. Having acne is one-hundred percent normal, thick or thin hair is equally beautiful, and your skin is as beautiful as the individual next to you. Promoting self-love will lead to self-confidence and self-acceptance, which is what is should be taught to help us in the long run. Confidence is key, whether it’s at your job interview for Vogue or Microsoft or having the opportunity and strength to pursue your dreams.
Oppression occurs in every form, everywhere and everyday, these were just common examples of where it can possibly happen. It’s not just a “system of belief” practiced by certain faiths, but happens amongst modern-day society. As a community, women encouragement should be a priority. We should lead by example for future generations to learn from, believe in and share with their future generations. That is how change will begin, that is how change will occur. Instead of telling a woman what career she should pursue instead or what hair color suits her better, let her know that both, her voice and existence, matters and become the change you want to see.
Photo: T. Chick McClure