I recently introduced Shania Twain music to my almost 5 year old daughter (I know, what took me so long right?!) and I couldn’t help but think of my own youth as we listened. When I was younger, I spent my days with my walk man listening to music every chance I could. Shania Twain and Paula Abdul were my favorites. I listened to Shania’s “Come on Over” album so many times, I can still sing every song on there. The song that stands out to me the most though is of course, “Man! I feel like a woman”. For reasons other than the obvious, it’s a great song.
During the summer before 6th grade my best friend and I had decided we wanted to enter our church’s talent show. So I choreographed a dance to “I feel like a woman”, and it was awesome. We tried our best to have matching outfits and we did pretty good with what resources we had. We both came from poor families, it was basically if we didn’t already have it in our closets then we were out of luck. We came up with ball caps, jean shorts, sleeveless shirts, and a couple of jean button up shirts to wear over the sleeveless shirts. Now this was 1998 so of course we tied the jean shirts at the bottom because that was in style then (apparently that has made a comeback in case you didn’t know).
While other kids were performing skits, attempting to do magic, and singing the cliche songs that always turned up at these type of events (boring) we were bringing this iconic anthem and were prepared to show them all how its done. The song starts and we strut our stuff. I had cleverly arranged for us to take off our ball caps and whip our hair out at the exact time Shania sang “we’re gonna let our hair hang down”, and at some point we took off those tacky jean shirts and threw them to the side to show our strong femininity.
Okay, okay.. so while all of that did happen, it really had nothing to do with empowering women or showing our strong femininity.. we were like 11 years old. And no we didn’t win the talent show. Apparently they found it a little inappropriate but whatever. What stands out to me the most about this event in my life is I was able to get on a stage, in all the tackiness of jean shorts and shirts, and give it my all as if I didn’t care for anyone else’s approval. Because I really didn’t. I thought my routine was awesome. I was so proud of it! At what point in our lives do we lose this? At what point do we feel it’s not okay to accept our tackiness and go full throttle with it?
I know for me, like many girls, it started in middle school. When all of a sudden the approval of people that seemed to be “above” me became more important than what had previously been deemed as acceptable or “cool”. I can easily say that if it had been a year or two later I wouldn’t have ever gone on stage and done that. My love for dance and music hadn’t changed, but my confidence had. Not only at this age do we look towards others to learn what is acceptable, but we also somehow are brainwashed into shaming ourselves whether we really believe there is something wrong with us or not. We stay completely content with ourselves until we are made to believe otherwise. And all of a sudden if you don’t see anything wrong in yourself, that is shamed too!
I always think of the following scene from Mean Girls when I think about this vicious cycle…
It’s a behavior that’s taught to us.
How do we break this cycle? Now I understand there will be times when we lack confidence or are just in crummy moods. It happens. But what needs to stop is the idea that we can’t love ourselves shamelessly at any stage of our lives. We shouldn’t rely on the acceptance from others to love ourselves now and we shouldn’t be ashamed to love ourselves no matter where we are at in life. I have found that a little bit of self love has gotten me a heck of a lot further than any self hate ever will.
This is why I do what I do. I want to show women that it is okay to shamelessly accept themselves and love themselves right now. Love yourself no matter what size. Want to lose weight? Start loving yourself exactly the way you are and watch yourself achieve your goals much faster! In an unhealthy relationship? Start loving yourself more and see your priorities fall into place. Don’t be ashamed to get on that stage in all your awesomeness and show the world who you are and that you are not ashamed of you!
Not gonna lie, my daughter and I totally blasted “I feel like a Woman” and shamelessly danced and jumped on my bed and it was the best I’ve felt all week.