Look for other great women. Around you, near you, in the media. Don’t copy them, but learn how they do it, and then you do it too.
Caitlin Moran made a snap decision one day to stop sitting around and do something. Bridget Christie thought, fuck it, a comedy show about feminism, why not, got nothing to lose. My mum keeps on going, keeps plowing through, and she’s the bravest woman I know. Every day on Women’s Hour there are more and more examples of incredible women doing amazing things. There’s always someone to look up to and there’s always someone that they learnt from too. You’re part of something. You’re part of a line, so look back at it.
You won’t get anything if you don’t ask.
Want to do stand up? Ask someone how. Want to go to university? Ask to. Want to have a job? A career in a certain area? If you don’t ask, no one’s going to offer it to you. You’re already at a disadvantage, the world views you as something less. You’ve got to ask, because it’s not going to be handed to you. You make your own luck.
Take every opportunity you have.
Women couldn’t always vote but you can, so go and vote, because you’re very very lucky. Malala Yousafzai was shot for trying to get an education as a girl. If you live in a western country, you have the chance for free education. Use it. I simply can’t say this enough. We certainly don’t live in a post-feminist society, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have opportunities or that we’re not lucky that some things are the way they are.
There is no one way to be a woman, and it’s not dictated by feminism.
Do you like wearing dresses? And make up? Or don’t? THAT’S TOTALLY FINE. The point of feminism is that you have the choice to do all those things, or not do those things. Do you want to shave your legs? That’s fine. Don’t want to? Also fine. Gender is not binary, gender is not fixed and gender should not dictate your actions.
Sometimes you have to shout a bit louder.
It’s ingrained in society, from a historical standing, that women should be seen and not heard, and that they’re objects, accessories, possessions. We’re slowly moving away from this mindset, but you might still need to remind people of this. Argue your point. Tell them they’re wrong. prove you have a voice, and an opinion, and that it matters, because it does.
Your body belongs to you and no one else.
As long as you’re happy with it, and happy inside your own skin, then what else matters? It’s your body and you’re the one who has to live with it forever, so look after it and treat it right. Fill it with yummy food, and laughter and fruit and veg, and air from the seaside, and excellent alcohol that warms you up and makes you dance. Love your body; all its flaws and all its brilliant bits. Love your boobs and your vagina, and your thighs and your toes. Please, please, please look after your body. You only get one and it’s so important and beautiful.
Your soul is yours, but lend it out.
I’m not talking divine spirit things here. What I mean is that feeling when you see your very best friend dancing their arse off. I’m talking about when all your family are around you and they’re all absorbed in each other. You can only get these feelings if you let people in, and give them that little piece of yourself to hold on to.
You make your own happiness.
It’s important to give away these little pieces of yourself to the people you love, but you’ve also got to learn to be happy on your own, being on your own, being by yourself, doing things for yourself. This is one of the most important life skills you can learn.
Surround yourself with good, kind, intelligent, funny, women.
You’ll learn more about yourself by spending time with them, as well having a jolly good laugh.
Surround yourself with good, kind, intelligent, funny, men.
Always take free furniture from the sides of roads.
Painting chests of drawers is like a kind of meditation. Plus, free furniture.
Walk, don’t get the bus.
You’ll feel insanely better for it, even if you are slightly sweatier.
Your bodily functions are FINE.
We all fart and poo and sweat and that. It would be weird if you didn’t, why are you pretending that you don’t?
Look after your mind.
If you don’t feel okay, tell someone. If you feel sad, or confused, or lost, tell someone how you’re feeling. Meditate. Read books and watch films and let your mind act like a sponge soaking it all up. Your mental health is so so so important, please look after it.
Sometimes, you do just have to adult.
You have to do your washing and ring the doctors and cook food for yourself. It will make you feel like a proper grown up, and that’s well fun.
When your friends tell you that that person is no good for you, they’re probably right.
They know you pretty well, and they only want the best for you, so they probably know what they’re on about.
Ring your mum.
She’s done it all before and she will always know what to say. She’s the best advice you’ll ever get.
Listen to music by women.
Read books by women. Watch films made by women, about women. Watch comedy by women. Let them inspire you and course through your veins.
Not everyone is learning these things as quick as you, be patient.
Learn for yourself, and don’t get angry when other people aren’t getting it right. They need more time.
Don’t beat yourself up for getting things wrong.
You’re learning too, remember – it’s okay to fail, and try, and fail and try again. As long as you’re trying.
Words by Sian Brett.