by Farrah Alexander · 21 Sep 2020 · 4 min read
It's time to get over it, guys.
It is a fact that women of color are the most violently targeted people in the world. So, what does the #MeToo movement mean to women who have, since the beginning of time, lacked representation, lacked inclusion and had no voice? Women of color, especially black women, have been reporting harassment, rape and more since the beginning of time, and have always been silenced. The message #MeToo sent to a woman of color is, if you are wealthy (influential) and white, people will listen because you matter.
Teenage girls have it very hard. Anyone who has ever been one knows this instinctively. Navigating your newfound emergence into the contradictory social and sexual politics and expectations, where your body is weaponized against you and your value dictated by its degree of conformity to a Barbie doll, where you're either a slut if you have sex or a prude if you don't, where eating disorders are tacitly encouraged and you're constantly told to be quiet, be small and meek and always complaisant, and stay out of the way – it's a lot. Their argot is maligned, their speaking habits policed, their manner of dress demeaned and insulted as vanity, and their interests automatically deemed shallow, frivolous, and intellectually deficient by their mere association with them. In short, being a teenage girl isn't easy.
I don't like to make predictions. There's a degree of hubris involved in any effort at prognostication; the future is an unknowable thing, mysterious and hazy and prone to rapid shifts, evident in the way the last half-decade utterly upended the conventional view of where America and the world were heading. But it's not just a new year; it's an entirely new decade, which is a cause for reflection not on the past, but on the future. What kind of world do we want to build?
I've spent years now encouraging people to have difficult conversations, to talk about the things that are bothering them and yet, remain unspoken. I've read the research showing that couples who argue effectively, instead of staying quiet and avoiding conflict are ten times more likely to have a happy relationship.
It is terrifying when you do not have all the answers, especially when you are a parent and your children are looking to you for safety. We are living in a very chaotic time due to the fear of the unknown while a feeling of powerlessness and despair creeps over us. Some of us have many questions while others are not sure what to ask or what to do during this difficult period. The issue is that human beings seek comfort and once they receive that comfort, they either experience life lessons, are destined to repeat patterns until they learn from the lesson, or never understand the lesson at all.
A few months after I left my corporate job as the Head of Merchandising for Old Navy Online, I walked into the Everlane concept store in preparation for an upcoming meeting at their corporate office. As I looked around trying to find an outfit, a feeling of alienation came over me. From the perky twenty-something sales associate that looked at me askance when I walked in, to the array of androgynous, box-llooking, nondescript apparel, it was clear that I didn't belong. I finally landed on a streamlined navy dress that was seemingly appropriate for my meeting — a nothing special, medium quality, basic dress that felt like a millennial uniform. I never wore that dress again.
It's easy to be inspired when progress is being made. However, the true challenge of hope will always be to maintain it when momentum slows or, harder still, when the opposition is gaining more ground than we are. While these statements may seem obvious as we consider moments in our lives where the going got tough and the tough had to get going, it's sometimes a challenge to see these ideas represented in traditional entertainment where we can usually count on a happily ever after.