I’d written a blog last year for International Women’s Day and I’d mentioned that I’d asked my daughters (5 and 10) what ‘girl power’ meant to them. Their answers (“being unstoppable” and “all girls are Supergirls”) had delighted me. As a mother, I am acutely conscious of how my girls perceive themselves, and what’s better than believing in your own superhuman abilities?
I am all for positive self-image, but I’ve been wondering of late if I had misunderstood the meaning of strength. Isn’t it just fantasy to expect women to be Supergirls or unstoppable all the time? Why just women — can anybody be unstoppable all the time? Not really. Then why do we put this unrealistic pressure on ourselves?
Let’s face it — there are enough things weighing us down (not enough women in our industry, erratic markets, soaring inflation, rising interest rates, the Ukraine war, climate change, and the list goes on) — why add living-up-to-mythical-superpower-standards to that list?
This International Women’s Day, how about we don’t talk about our abilities to never slow down, or our tirelessness, or our indefatigable persistence, or even our ambition to not get left behind? Instead, let’s talk about us being human. Let’s talk about how it’s okay to not feel like Supergirl all the time, that nobody does (not even Jacinda Ardern), and that it’s okay to say, “I need a break”. Let’s talk about being confident enough to know that a rest stop doesn’t mean we’ve lost the race. Let’s talk about how it’s in fact a sign of strength to recognise when to press the pause button and that all of us need a pause sooner or later.
I want to raise a toast to girl power again this International Women’s Day, except that this brand of girl power is not about us being unstoppable; it is about us knowing when to stop and take a breather.
Let’s hang up the cape for now; we can worry about being Supergirls another day.