11 Babes On What Womanhood Means to Them
Collaboratively written by BWH Contributors
It’s no secret that we love to celebrate women. On this International Women’s Day, we’re taking a step back to celebrate not only our careers and accomplishments — but also our femininity, complexity, and diversity. We asked our group of contributing interviewers, writers, and team members: How has womanhood empowered you throughout your life?
“Womanhood has inspired me to push beyond my boundaries and achieve goals I once thought were unobtainable. Women before me have created the groundwork so I have the freedom to do what my heart desires. Growing up, I was told being a woman would limit my career choices as it would impact my life decisions. However, I find this to be very untrue. My gender does not dictate who I am and what I am capable of doing. The ultimate decision-maker is me, and what I decide to pursue is determined by no one else but me. On this International Women’s Day, not only do I thank the valiant women who fought for women’s rights, but also encourage others to continue to empower other women to achieve their dreams. “
“Womanhood serves as a constant reminder of my sacred calling to lift up other women. This title of ‘woman’ is heavy, sometimes crushing. Sometimes it feels like a nail in a coffin, a noose around my neck. But the inverse is just as powerful; iron that would be nails in a coffin is now building a new place, a new era. Rope that could tighten around my throat to silence me is now thrown as a lifeline to other women. That same heavy weight is now holding the door open for others to pass through, for my own daughter to look through to something better and brighter. There is a lot of ground to be gained still, many battles yet to be fought; some days I despair we'll never see the end of them. But to me, the spirit of womanhood is intrinsically tied to persistence. Persistence may tire, it may know frustrations and setbacks, but it never gives up. Neither will we.”
“For me, womanhood is a source of power. I have always been proud to be a woman, and find myself consistently proud to know the strong women in my life. I love seeing the women who aren’t afraid to break the mold without breaking their identity. It inspires me to see women succeed past obstacle after obstacle, and overcome barriers people said could not be overcome. It fills my soul to see different cultures take on womanhood in different ways. Being a woman in this day and age has made me strong, independent, ambitious and gritty. My life and career have been so rich and fulfilling, because my identity as a woman ensured that, throughout my life, I built resilience and a persistent hunger for more.”
“It took me a long time to embrace my womanhood. Being born in a male-dominant country/culture left little room for women empowerment, but as I reflect now, thousands of miles away from my then-home, I do so with so much respect and admiration for the women who shaped me. From my incredible mother who left her home to provide a better life for me (and who continues to be my biggest supporter, in the good times and, most importantly, in the bad); to my aunts and cousins who worked from dawn to dust, tirelessly and oftentimes thanklessly; to the women who stood up (and continue to stand up) against the mistreatment of women in Albania—their trials and triumphs are my constant reminder of the beauty, hardship and resiliency that lies in womanhood. I have strength, tenacity, empathy, courage and the passion to keep on keeping on, both in my personal life and my career. I feel empowered because of the many women in my life who tremendously inspire me, and because of the magic I’ve seen when we lift one another up. My womanhood is my power; through it I navigate the world bold, brave and ready for whatever comes next.”
“I was lucky enough to be raised around women who are so strong. I didn’t quite understand the impact they would have on my life and outlook though, at first. As I grew up, I realized more each year just how much they’ve affected me. These women made me believe being a woman should never hold you back. They taught me to stand up for what I want and showed me the power of unapologetically embracing womanhood. As I braved the first steps in my career, there have been times I’ve thought, ‘It would be so much easier if I were a man here.’ Those moments feel so big when I’m faced with them, but then I’m reminded that I bring my own unique abilities and perspectives as a woman. Personally, I’ve embraced my ability to be empathetic and use that in my communication skills. I attribute this to me being a woman, and I believe that skill has contributed to my success in my career and relationships thus far.”
“As a woman, society constantly challenges me. I’m
left reaffirming my own wants and needs to myself over and over and over again. I keep my eyes on the prize. This is a source of power. I believe when one woman succeeds, every woman succeeds. When we help each other thrive, we’re invincible.”
“For me, ‘womanhood’ has taken so many forms and held so many different meanings over the years—and I think that’s the most beautiful, empowering thing about it. As a competitive dancer growing up, I felt empowered by the success that came with training my body, mind and spirit to become the best dancer I could be. At times, that meant embodying the traditional ‘feminine’ qualities that were expected of my identity as a woman. As I grew older, I became empowered by women who broke the mold and embraced womanhood in their own terms, and on their own time—inside and outside of the dance world. Today, I’m empowered knowing I can embrace and express womanhood in my own terms, and on my own time, all because of the strong, resilient and powerful women who came before me, and for the strong, resilient and powerful women who will come after me.
“The experience I think about most when it comes to womanhood is being raised by a single mother. Growing in her care allowed me to view the world exclusively through a woman’s lens. It empowered me in my femininity, in my trust and admiration of other women, and in my own abilities. As my mother’s shadow, I learned I could start a career, buy a house, raise a child, build a community and experience extreme joy and intense pain, all on my own. The older I get, and the more chances I get to reflect on my own womanhood, the more I understand just how much her example shaped me. As I live through new challenges, adventures and insecurities a thousand miles away from her, I carry with me the empowerment of her love and example. And I’m only ever a phone call away when I need a few reminders.”
“Womanhood began for me when I was 19, the age I was when I had my first daughter, Gigi. Even though I was so young, I remember there being a huge shift in my thinking, priorities and work ethic. Tina Fey’s book, ‘Bossypants,’ had just come out the year Regina was born, and as I was reading it I thought to myself, improv, comedy and television is what I want to do with my life. So, when I went back to school after a semester off, I pursued comedy in my spare time. I wanted to be able to tell Gigi when she grew up that I’d had her and still worked hard on career goals for myself. ...I [eventually decided to] get more into the production and producing side of television. I continued to do comedy, but in the way that worked for my family. I look back at that time in my life and am proud of the decision I made. I think it takes such courage to really go after your career dream, but also takes courage to look at your dream and say: ‘Not right now. I need to focus on this other thing.’ And that other thing was being a mother and becoming the woman I am today.”
“Womanhood has empowered me to look back at the incredible women before me and celebrate their stories. To make sure our history isn’t erased. For so long women’s contributions to history and society were either silenced, belittled, erased or given credit to a man. It’s still happening today! There are so many groundbreaking women we’re either highlighting too late or will never get to learn about because it wasn’t deemed as important. Oftentimes, women were actually the masterminds behind much more than we think. Many of us have probably experienced it in our own careers and it’s happened for so long to so many brilliant women in history. That empowers me to research, lift up and share women’s stories—in history and in my own experience.”
“I grew up with a lot of chips on my shoulder; being maligned for being a woman was just one of them. Over time I learned how to take those those chips and lay them down on the road behind me to create a path for the woman coming next—but I only got a grasp on how to do that once I recognized the the women who had created their own path of stones for me to follow. Being a woman is like being part of a club; we’ve all been through different wars, but they feel pretty similar. That creates a kinship you can either shirk or embrace—and embracing is way better.”
Now tell us, babe:
How has womanhood empowered YOU?