With the New Year approaching, we find ourselves in front of the mirror again, determined to eradicate traces of belly pouches, sagging flesh, and declining youth. We consider new resolutions that will make us look better, younger, and slimmer, but why not make 2012 a revolutionary year? Instead of focusing on physical flaws, why not empower ourselves by composing resolutions that foster self-love and acceptance? Here are some suggestions for the New Year that will shift our attention away from our appearances and awaken in us a sense of unparalleled self-possession and inner strength.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Forget the scale. Toss it. Instead, walk to the mirror, avoid the daily mine for imperfections, look into your eyes, and recite your praises: “I am beautiful, inside and out. I am strong, capable and intelligent.” Lift yourself up every day, and eventually, you won’t care how many dimples cling to your thighs.
Captain, My Captain: Enroll in a Women’s Studies Course. Discourse on topics that affect women is ongoing, so be apprised of academic studies that demonstrate how history, society, and laws affect the rights of women. Being informed provides you with effective tools necessary to combat misogyny and stereotypes. Why not start now? UMASS at Dartmouth offers online courses in Women’s Studies. I am enrolled in the certificate program and learning so much about the history of women and our society’s treatment of women in the family and in the workforce. Take a class and see where it will lead you.
Follow the Leader: Appropriate the regimen of successful women like Venus Williams or Danica Patrick. Take notes on what motivates them to succeed in male-dominated fields. Aside from passion, they pushed hard and came through as champions. Find your leader, learn her secrets, and apply them to your own personal and professional endeavors.
Jiu-Jitsu Anyone?: Forget cardio-kickboxing and Zumba classes. For competence, confidence and strength, take self-defense classes that will physically empower you. For starters, Jiu-Jitsu trains you to fight on the ground, and Krav Maga concentrates on instinctive movements that focus on winning the battle with any attacker, no matter his size. My son’s Tae Kwon Do instructor had to use a Mao Thai move on a guy who insisted he was stronger than her. Her kick set him on his back…and in shame. More importantly, we need to assert our strength. We are not the weaker sex, no matter what myths we have been bred since infancy.
Bring It: Playing sports contributes to physical and mental well-being, teaches competition, enhances leadership skills, and generates positive energy that makes us feel happy and fulfilled. Challenge, compete, and train your brain and body by participating in volleyball, baseball, and lacrosse teams at your local YMCA. Or enter and run in a marathon. Whatever you do, play to win.
Don’t Believe the Hype: Resist gender stereotypes by taking on chores like mowing, edging and leaf-blowing, cleaning the gutters, fixing broken appliances and other tasks usually left to men. Enroll in a car mechanics course offered by your local College and learn how to change the oil and tires in your own vehicle. Car maintenance is a skill that everyone should possess, and wouldn’t it be great if you could change your own tire instead of waiting around for some stranger in a AAA truck to locate you on the side of the highway?
Blog Power: Start a blog called “365 Days of Empowerment,” in which you post daily on acts of strength, power, your 2012 resolutions, and your abilities as an empowered woman. Measure your successes and pitfalls with acquiring new skills, resisting stereotypes, and redefining your power. Chronicle your passage towards a stronger, more confident, powerful you.
Got Tazer?: I find myself constantly writing about violence against women, I suppose because it’s all over the news, movies, and television shows. Since women have been deemed the weaker sex, they have become men’s victims. Between domestic abuse, dating abuse, sex trafficking and rapes, women need to take matters into their own hands. There is nothing wrong with defending ourselves. The best gift you could give yourself is a tazer. Do some research first and see which ones you could legally purchase in your state, but get yourself one. If more women fought back, these attackers would not get away with their crimes against women and girls. Get your daughter one. Teach her to defend herself against an attacker; it may save her life, but more than that: it will make her — and you — feel empowered.