by Kristin Bentley, founder of NWMFoundation
On the outside, we're all different. Some have brown eyes, some green or blue. Our skin varies in color, from the palest of pale to the darkest ebony, and has been the subject of scrutiny and ignorance in our country since its birth 242 years ago.
Some of us were blessed with curves but we feel self conscious for having them because they draw too much attention from men, and other women hate us for it. Sometimes these curves make us targets for sexual assault. Sometimes we get called names because we're curvier than the ultra thin women that fill our social media.
Our breasts vary in size, and those of us that are small feel less feminine, inadequate, and unattractive.
Each of us may look different on the outside, but underneath our physical appearances we are the one and the same. We are women... and our commonality is that we all share how inferior these differences sometimes make us feel.
Every woman is on a journey to self-love. Some of us are fortunate and arrive to our destination during early adulthood, but for most this journey is lifelong. Especially when we have a lot of pain to heal.
Our "curse" in life is that we, as women, have a way of blaming and shaming ourselves for the world around us and the way we interact with it. It's not only our physical features that we feel insecure about.
We blame ourselves when others treat us badly because we take too much responsibility in our relationships. We blame ourselves when our children misbehave because it makes us feel like a failure as a parent. We blame ourselves when we don't get the promotion or job, regardless of the reason for it. No matter what challenges we run across in life, we blame ourselves for them.
I know I did, and sometimes still do. As a young mom with three boys before I turned 30, I thought I had my life pretty well figured out. That is, until I found myself divorced after almost twenty years of marriage. Now that I am 44, remarried, and a mother again (twice), it's easy for me to look back at the first half of my life and see that I was my own worst enemy.
I was lost and looking for validation, but I was mistakenly seeking it from others instead of from myself.
It took a lot of falling down and heartache before I began to understand that I had childhood wounds I needed to heal. Understanding this is what led me to finally begin my journey. I've come a long way, but I still have quite a ways to go.
Letting go of that inner perfectionist with all of her unnecessary criticism, and practicing acceptance, is hard to do. Especially for those of you that are like me. But we can do it by supporting one another along our individual journeys.
When we learn to embrace all that makes us a woman - when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down - we will finally achieve gender equality. It's hard to achieve success when we keep ourselves from it. When we keep each other from it.
Together, let's find a way to turn our inner voices into positive ones, because we can do this. Together, we can do anything.