When I was younger, my idea of a “strong woman” meant a lady who could kick-ass. Literally.
I had a very specific mental image: a girl clad in black ripped jeans, black leather jacket, mouth smeared with vibrant red lipstick and killer high heels adorning her feet. She would walk through hallways with a charm and ferocity that would make every guy in the vicinity quake with fear. And to whichever poor guy who dared challenge her? Whew, good luck to you.
My little self aspired to be like her – needed to be like her. Because if I wasn’t anything like my mental image, then I couldn’t be a “strong woman.” Right? Wrong.
As I grew up, I realised that my mind-set was incredibly wrong and toxic. Over the past two decades, I had the luxury of coming into contact with many amazing woman – strong women– who were nothing like the mental image that I had. Eclectic, individualistic and distinct, they were all so strong and beautiful in their own ways.
Take my mother, for example. She’s nothing like my little self’s idea of a strong woman. She doesn’t wear a lot of make-up, and I wouldn’t catch her dead in killer high heels. But whenever I watch her cradle my father’s hand whenever he comes home, tired and stressed, and whenever she sacrifices her portion of food just so that my brothers and I could eat a little bit more – I see her strength.
And Jenny – the lady who works at my internship – she’s also definitely nothing like my little self’s idea of a strong woman. Soft and gentle, she guides the guys of the workplace with a steady hand like the captain of a wayward, rowdy ship. Whenever I see her square her shoulders to get work done, whenever I see her be professional to customers who were rude to her – I see her strength.
See, the kind of strength I envisioned when I was younger wasn’t really strength. It was just a stereotype. Strength itself is subjective, and every single human being on this earth has a different definition of strength. And especially we women – anyone who identifies as a woman – we all have our own definition of strength. For some women, that means quiet and content. For others, loud and joyous. For some, simple and warm. For others, grand and gaudy.
Women are multi-faceted and we all come into different shapes and sizes; we all define ourselves differently, show the world who we are differently – and that, in itself, is what it means to be a strong woman. It means knowing who you are and that every single one of your sisters – though different from you – is fighting the same war as you every day. It means seeing fellow women on the street and smiling at each other instead of judging what the other is wearing. It means raising each other’s voices, higher and higher, until the universe can hear our words.
So to those who are reading this – understand that every single woman out there in the world has a right to their own definition of strength. Understand that though we are all essentially made of different things, we’re all united by one simple fact: we’re pretty damn strong.
Author: Isabel Cruz
Author Bio: Isabel was born in the Philippines but raised in Singapore. She now has two places that she considers home. Isabel is a 20-year-old writer and poet who believes that stories are one of the strongest things on earth; she wants to be able to weave ones so beautiful she could inspire generations. Her work as been featured on “Yes, Poetry” and “Harness Magazine.” You can find more of her words on her Instagram and her blog.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @Isabel.dcruz