Whoooooohooooo! Happy International Women's Day to all the lovely ladies out there. Today is definitely a day to celebrate, to think about all the immensely inspiring women that have achieved incredible things, as well as thinking about our own future, and what you can do to change it. One thing that our society needs to understand is that everyone deserves equal rights. No matter your gender, race, sexuality or religion, you deserve equality. We need to be the generation that makes equality happen, so the generations after us are capable of achieving anything, without being swept under the carpet.
This post is kind of a mishmash of cool gals' that inspire me, and hopefully inspire you too! I've also attached my essay I wrote for school about Amandla Stenberg for Black History Month, incase you want to read it. Also on the agenda is a pretty cool #girlboss , Marta Oktaba from Almost Iris. She's answered a few questions on starting your own business as well as her tips on being a teenager.
Amandla Stenberg Essay
In this era, it is incredibly easy to have a voice. Social media platforms allow us to be updated on the lives of celebrities, bloggers and independent people making a living off a daily selfie; and we are capable of emitting whatever woes we have by uploading videos, comments and status updates. But the problems that we as humans face can’t just be justified by a ‘lol’ and an ‘fml’. These problems are much larger, although being hidden by a new instagram picture and our star struck minds. Although it may feel as if these new generations are drowning in narcissism and filters, there are some incredibly strong voices that use these platforms for the better.
I first saw Amandla Stenberg in The Hunger Games movie. Her portrayal of her character, Rue, was captivating, beautiful and strong. I, at the time, didn’t own any social media so was not able to do the ‘mandatory’ stalk and follow, so instead dedicated time to watching videos of her on YouTube. These videos were mostly short films, comedy clips and interviews but I soon became aware of her activism. Very soon after The Hunger Games was released, there was a large spike in racist tweets directed towards Amandla. Thirteen at the time, Amandla handled the situation with an incredibly poised response, telling US Weekly, “As a fan of the books, I feel fortunate to be part of ‘The Hunger Games’ family. It was an amazing experience. I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire ‘Hunger Games’ community for their support and loyalty.” (huffingtonpost.com).
Soon after, Amandla posted a video on YouTube called ‘Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows’, addressing the subject of cultural appropriation. She ends the video with the question “...what would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”
(Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows). This film got over 2 million views on YouTube, pushing Amandla further into speaking out about the problems within our society.
In 2015, Amandla and Rowan Blanchard where awarded by the Ms. Foundation for Women the Feminist Celebrity of the Year Award (Cosmopolitan). Tieing first place for their impeccable work on communicating to the public about their embrace of feminism and the fight for equal rights in all aspects, the girls grew in popularity, especially in the online world. In 2016, Amandla was awarded the Young, Black and Gifted award in the ceremony run my Black Girls Rock Inc. (Amandla Stenberg Website). Only four days later, Amandla spoke at Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, delivering her speech “My Authenticity is My Activism.” (Amandla Stenberg Website). Amandla’s use of power is used to influence and educate our society, motivating teenage girls to see and utilize their true potential. Her wide range of mediums gets her message across allowing absolutely anybody to embody her courage and influence others. She released her comic ‘Niobe she is life’ in collaboration with Stranger Comics in late 2015, as well as pushing for the ‘Art Hoe’ movement, which “describes self-reflexive work made mostly (but not exclusively) by people of colour to address issues of race and representation in art.” (Oyster Magazine).
Being caucasian, I will definitely never fully understand the full extent of racism, cultural appropriation and how it affects me in my day to day life, but, thanks to Amandla, my knowledge of these issues have grown immensely and I am able to stand up and communicate with friends, family and society.
#girlboss Marta Oktaba aka almost iris
I thought it would be cool to interview a woman who owns her own business, as well as letting us into the secrets of teenager-hood. Marta has just started selling jewellery on her online store Almost Iris. Her jewellery symbolises mental health and the emotional ups and downs of life. Marta was inspired by her struggle with anxiety when creating these earrings, which I know a lot of you reading this will relate to, too. I think it's pretty important and totally rad that there is jewellery being made focusing on mental illnesses (and they look really cool too).
As I’m getting older and delving deeper into my ‘teenage girlhood’, I’d love to hear what your teen years were like? How did they shape you as a person and any tips about being a teen? I grew up in a suburban area where a lot of European families immigrated in the 90s; as did my family. I was quite reserved. I was an odd mix of confident and shy. I always had a part-time job and that freedom made me feel a little more grown up. I often pushed the limits of how late I could stay out but only because I wanted to spend time with my friends and the night made me feel calm.
My teenage years were set in the beginnings of the internet. I didn’t have the pressures of social media. I think I got my first mobile phone as a hand me down when I was 15 and the internet didn’t exist on those phones. It was all about free minutes on phone calls to friends after 8 pm. I feel like my teenage years didn’t impact me as much as my early 20s did, but they were very vital in developing the strength that I have found within myself. I would tell any teenager today not to fear their true self. I know it’s cliché but it’s very real. Also, learn to write without thinking. It’s in those moments that you will discover things about yourself that may otherwise never seep out.
Who are some of your favourite influential women? I feel like I’m going to do a very bad job at answering this question because I don’t necessarily have some iconic woman that I look up to. I’m influenced by little bits that I see in everyday women.
But if I was to give you a name that you can Google; I would say Grace Neutral. She is delicate yet powerful. I resonate with her views on women and beauty and the challenges we face. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing her views you should watch the documentary Beyond Beauty.
What’s it like working for yourself? What would you say to a young entrepreneur wanting to develop their business? Working for myself is a mixture of the most amazing thing I have ever done and the most terrifying. There is a beauty in following your heart no matter how hard the path may be. The hardest part is beginning. We all have ideas but it’s what we make of them that can start something wonderful.
A huge terror of mine was not having a steady income because without it I felt like a failure. Sadly, we live in a world where our achievements are measured by money. Remember it takes time and a lot of patience to develop. There may be times when you may have to make a lot of sacrifices. I would tell a young entrepreneur not to be discouraged if what they are trying to develop is not defined as a job. If you have heart in what you are doing your work is important.
Your main concern/s that the women of today face is/are… This is terribly hard to pinpoint. We are all experiencing a wide range of battles. If I was to speak for myself as a woman, it’s the want to feel okay with myself on a day where my mental health may not be at its best. It’s never having to feel dominated by the power of a male who is trying to intimidate me with his strength. It’s walking alone at night and feeling safe. I want to know that my femininity is not defined or challenged by the way I choose to dress or groom myself. I want beauty to be the blemishes on my face and the stubble on my legs, without the need to apologise for it.
How would you change the world? If I could in any way inspire people to live from a place of love; I think the power of that could bring us all together to make a positive change.
I hope this post inspired you somehow! Always remember that you are strong, powerful, beautiful, intelligent and going to do some good to this world. Happy International Women's day you awesome person, you.
Seeya next week,