The Daily show is my guilty pleasure. I watch it every morning before my children get up. It’s the quietest hour of my day. Just me, my cup of coffee, the keyboard, and Trevor Noah. He recently interviewed America Ferrera, an actress best known for her role in the television show Superstore. Their conversation was centered around the “Culture Battle” the United States is currently going through. America stated she has a “responsibility to reflect the world as it is.” . She describes the challenge of being yourself AND being the person that mainstream America accepts. She compares the task of being her authentic self to a balancing act. I may not be famous, but that balancing act is something I can relate to.
America went on to say,
“If you’re born in America, and you’re not white, you are told and taught, even if you’re not told you see it…To be accepted into certain places, only this version of you is welcomed.”
“Going beyond race, as a woman I feel like when I walk into certain spaces, not just as an actress, and someone in the entertainment industry, but in the world there are certain ways women are welcomed into spaces”
“ There are things we’re asked to leave behind if we want to be accepted and listened to.”.
A strategically placed commercial break left me pondering America’s words. How many of us are censoring ourselves out of fear? Fear of making other people uncomfortable. America hits the nail on the head. As women in this country, and all over the world, we censor our conversation, clothes, mannerisms, diets, and so much more to match the bullshit, non existent, false expectations of others.
I know, I just said these unreachable expectations are non-existent, so why do we do it? We do it because it’s easier. Sometimes it is easier to ignore the cat call walking into the store than to confront the situation. Hell, instead, we change our outfit to lessen the chance of being noticed. It’s easier to just nod, than it is to confront Grandpa about the sexist joke he just made. What if we just stopped to sugar coating the real us with the acceptable version of us?
I’m constantly told that I’m too loud, a little in your face, and very outspoken. These are qualities that make people uncomfortable. People do not like having hard conversations, and I personally get off on the tension in the air when things get heated. I love the energy in the room when two passionate minds go head to head. At a young age I learned what pieces of me I should censor to be more universal, and well liked. I’d say it took me until I was 25 to realize nothing GREAT is universal and liked by everyone. And EVERY DAY I have to remind myself to be myself, and to uncensor myself. That’s how deep this negative juju is embedded in us. We as people, as women, are not meant to be liked by everyone. Let’s make it impossible for mainstream America to have a cookie cutter image of the American woman. When we censor our authentic selves we are giving the stereotypes power. We are feeding the beast.
Be loud. Be proud. Be you. We owe it to our daughters. When you walk into a room don’t leave any part of you behind. Don’t censor your accent, your style, your thoughts, or your goals for anyone. If any part of you makes someone else uncomfortable that’s their problem, not yours.