Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't Be Afraid To Be A Woman

As we draw closer to Mother’s Day, I am thinking more and more of my mother. She was a remarkable woman and a great wife and mother. My family and I were blessed to have had her in our lives, even if the time was far too short.

I learned a great deal from my mother, through conversation and observation. She has taught me so much about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a professional, a woman. Of the many things my mother taught me, one of the ones that sticks in my mind the most is "Don't be afraid to be a woman."

It’s funny, the first time she said this to me, it was actually in response to my clothes. On the one hand, I was a parent’s dream come true – a teenaged girl who didn’t try to wear too much make-up or tight skimpy clothing. I was a total conservative preppy. My usual “uniform” was long skirts or pants and baggy sweaters. While my father was trying to get me to improve my style in general, my mother was trying to get me to embrace my emerging womanhood and learn to tastefully show my womanly curves.

Over time however, through observation of countless strong and successful women – my mother included – the phrase has come to mean so much more to me. To me it means don’t put limits on yourself. It means embrace your femininity, but don’t think that means you can’t also possess “masculine” characteristics too. Likewise, just because you have benefited from the new opportunities of the women’s liberation movement, doesn’t mean you have to “act like a man” in the workplace. It means you decide what it means to me a woman; not society.

In honor of the skill, grace, compassion and womanhood of my mother, I have asked a few folks to remark about what they feel the phrase means to them.

Being a woman means being courageous enough to stay tender inside while facing tough life challenges outside!!!

Michele Howe
Author, Burdens Do a Body Good

[A] good woman is kind, giving, caring, etc.; she can also be strong, intelligent, have strong values and, yes, be beautiful. While none of us can be so called "perfect", we can all strive to be the best physically, mentally and spiritually we can be. Throughout the ages, women who have had great character and accomplished great things have been held up as worthy to emulate.

Beverly Solomon
Creative Director

I find being a woman is so much broader than the usual stereotypes attached to our gender. These days it's more about representing oneself in a variety of ways that are more authentic to the individual and not boxing yourself in. In short to be a woman is powerful and vulnerability simultaneously and beautifully balanced!

Bryn Drescher
Life Coach

I think that being a woman means accepting your emotions, your body shape, your hair and skin types...basically just getting comfortable with yourself. That becomes a lot easier after you turn 50! It also means giving in to your urge to dress girly and to wear pretty shoes that hurt like hell.

Lynn Thompson

To me "Don’t be afraid to be a woman" means Power -- The Power women posses in themselves that needs to be unleashed. Who else but women can accomplish so much? We wear so many hats that power is our source of strength, knowledge and our core of being. Women need not be afraid to step out of the comfort box that so many get into and forget they can be so much more...Be the woman everyone looks up to, be the woman every man desires, be the woman other women run to for answers, don’t be afraid to be a woman ....instead be a POWER WOMAN.

Deb Bailey
Power Women Magazine and Radio Show

A wise statement! For me, "Don’t be afraid to be a woman" means embracing the qualities that can be written off as female stereotypes. Example- women are stereotyped as being "chatty/gossipy/talkative" when in fact our ability to communicate deeply and pick up on non-verbal cues is one of our great assets. There's no need to shortchange your conversational style in the workplace-- or anywhere else-- to be taken seriously. Embrace your abilities that are uniquely yours. As for what it means to be a woman? It means a long history of nurturers-- a gender that privileges community and communication over strength and domination. Our culture and our country needs for every woman to embrace these innate strengths for the good of all of us!

Joanne Rock
Romance Author

To be a woman means embracing your power, valuing those whom you love, appreciating your worth, and honoring your spirit. I embrace my power by using by feminine qualities for good: encouraging others to do the right thing and loving my man for all that he is and does. I value my children by complimenting them when they succeed and encouraging them to do better upon their failures. I appreciate my worth as well as my mothers and sisters worth by spoiling and supporting them at all times. Most of all, I honor my spirit by praying and praising my Heavenly Father with the so many blessings that have been bestowed upon me. In summary, to be a woman means not only recognizing, but appreciating all that you are and can do.

Zee Wilson
Inlectronics Inc.

For me, "Don't be afraid to be a woman" means, among other things don't be afraid to dress like a woman. You are not a man. Of course, if you feel more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, by all means go ahead and dress that way. But if you like wearing skirts or dresses, wear them and expect to be taken seriously nonetheless. [It means] don't believe for a moment that you need to behave like a man to succeed in this world. You can be yourself and succeed. [It means have] confidence in yourself and your own abilities. Being a woman is not a hindrance, it's an advantage. Women have unique skills. They tend to be more emotionally developed creatures than men. They tend to have better people skills. Those skills can get you quite far in this world.

Berit Brogaard
Freelance writer and Associate Professor

To me, being a woman means to inhabit my own skin from the inside-out rather than from the outside-in. What this means is, when others tell me "women should look like this" or "women should act like that" or "women should do this kind of work" or "women should think this way about that issue", I check it out within myself first. I don’t just automatically compare my preferences, appearance, behaviors, opinions, or choices to what women should or should not say/think/believe/do. This means that the most important meaning of being a woman -- to me at least -- is to remember that when I live from the inside-out, honoring and valuing and expressing my own unique gifts, talents, opinions, and preferences, I empower other women to do the same (ala Marianne Williamson), and I encourage the men in our lives to honor us for being multi-dimensional, creative, beautiful, individual, and unique human beings.

Shannon Cutts

To me, being a woman means being strong, secure, independent, compassionate, responsible, and caring. Being a good listener, cooperating with others while holding fast to high ideals is an important part of being a woman. Being a woman means recognizing that outer beauty come from integrity, love, truth, and gentleness. Being a woman means becoming comfortable with receiving attention from others gracefully. It also means being willing to accept the power that comes from strong ideals and commitment to truth.

Laurel Clark
School of Metaphysics

I am not afraid to show my strength and intelligence, and to claim my power. This means being proud of being intuitive and knowing.

Diana Fletcher
Coach, Speaker and Author

To me a woman is someone who is comfortable in her own skin. It's one that knows what she believes in and is willing to stand up for that. It's one that has her own style. Whether it’s being comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt or all glammed up for a night on the town... it's being comfortable being you. I think being a woman is when you don't have to behave like a man to be respected like a man; it's being feminine with strength and grace. I think being a woman is communicating thoughts and feelings in an honest, open and appropriate. In a nutshell I think a woman has the grace of a duchess and the strength of steel.

Sharmen Lane
SharSpeaks LLC

Being a woman means being a member of the most amazing, powerful group of people ever assembled by God....Caregivers. We can't help it. It's in our DNA. I've heard story after story like mine....of well-meaning brothers who want to help with aging parents, but just can't find the strength inside. Enter....the sisters. Miracle workers. Angels. Goddesses. And we care for our children, too.......often at the same time. And we have careers, too, often at the same time. And we keep marriages and households going too......often at the SAME TIME! Beautiful, magical jugglers.....that's us. It's an amazing club that I am PROUD beyond measure to be a member of.

Karen Taylor-Good
Grammy nominated Singer/Songwriter & Author

Being a woman, I have the power to empathize. I have the power to be a mother and sense each feeling of my child like no one else. As a modern woman whose life is not restricted to home, I have the power to multitask and by equally strong mentally and physically. Being a woman, I cut the ruthlessness out of life and bring a lot of elements of creativity, finesse and beauty. Some men do have some of the above mentioned qualities, but I think ALL women have these qualities and that is what makes me proud of being a woman.

Atula Gupta
Freelance Writer

To be a woman means to be strong enough to stand up and express myself in the face of most anything, to believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to do, and to still be vulnerable enough to cry and laugh at life's comedies and tragedies.

Sandy Weiner, CPCC, ACC
Certified Professional Life Coach


  1. << Enter....the sisters.>>

    What a nice visual, Karen! Nadine, thanks for sharing such an inspiring collection of comments.

  2. Took me a lot of years to grow into my wommanhood and embrace all it has to offer. Thanks for this post!