I follow quite a few kick-ass professional women on Instagram. They are corporate babes changing the world, independent harpies spreading radical self-love and what we call in the social media world “influencers”. I’ll include a list of my favorite ladies’ names at the end, but first ….
The women I’m drawn to.
There’s one thing I notice about the professional women that I’m drawn to … they are all considered “too much” by society. Women who talk too loudly, too honestly. They have too many tattoos and show too much skin. They take up too much space and use too many cuss words. They are “vulgar” and “deviant” and immodest. They share too much of themselves. Women who don’t shave and / or have plastic surgery because they choose it. They talk about their weight, sex, abortion, miscarriage, sexism, politics, money, religion. No subject is taboo. Women who call out bullshit on everyone, especially themselves. Creatures who are seen as less than ideal because of their size, shape, habits or behavior. I identify with these huge women somehow, in my much smaller, quieter form. If I’m honest with myself, sometimes, they make me feel quite inadequate.
Women like Angela Gallo, Amanda Palmer, and Aimee Aroha talk about nearly every aspect of their lives in connection with their work. Sex connects with work. Family connects with work. Failures connect with work. Everything about their lives from their relationships to their inner most thoughts about themselves … all of it weaves in and out of their professional lives. I ask myself how they have been bold enough to carve out those spaces for themselves with society’s still narrow view of how a woman “should” be. Especially in the professional sector.
How to be a professional woman.
Look pretty, but not sexy. Be polite, but not alluring. Show some skin, but not too much and not the skin that’s marked in any way. Be strong, but vulnerable without sharing too much. Don’t talk about money, but you have to sell to measure success.
The restraints on professional females are far from ideal. I always evaluate my appearance before a new consult. Should I be conservative? Wear a skirt or pants? I prefer pants, but perhaps I should play to societies view of femininity. Hair up or down? Up is viewed as more conservative and professional while my messy, curly hair is far from societies view of “acceptable” for a professional woman. Is my blouse too low cut or too uptight? Are heels appropriate? It’s a never-ending cycle. For me at least.
Then I look at Angela’s tattoo covered body, hot pink hair, beautifully revealed chest and sultry filled lips talking about money, self-love and sex. I see Amanda’s unkempt hair and unshaven underarms as she poses for a new album cover in the nude and Aimee’s unabashed sharing of her whole life and self whether it’s considered appropriate or not. I look at these women (and dozens more), all independent, all successful. They each have children, have suffered loss, have hated themselves … just like me. They’ve struggled against society and found self-acceptance and love in their work.
Success is measured in the journey.
So, what do we really want as professional women? To build our own empires, however tiny they may be, and not be judged or diminished. I wish I was more confident, more able to express myself effectively. I wish I didn’t worry so much about selling and instead, thought more about my connections and what I can share with people. Then I remember that I am just like these women. I am no different. I’m just at a different point in my journey. Will I ever be a famous musician or doula/sexual healer or radical outback living business momma? Hell no … but, I can start here by teaching my daughter that she’s allowed to be as much or as big as she likes. That no one can judge her by her shape, size, hair color or sexuality. That she can be everything she wants to be even with a body covered in ink.
There is a place for all of us as we are. We may not all find that place before we leave this Earth, but the real success is in taking the journey at all, not so much in reaching the “ideal” destination.
Here are the Instagram names of the most radical, witchy women that I follow:
Mayim Bialik – Actress, scientist, lactation consultant, Jewish female superhero
Amanda Palmer – wife of my favorite author, warrior against the patriarchy, musician, author
@glitterandlazers – plus size fashionista, brand ambassador, bright and shiny IG influencer
Ash Soto – vitiligo wearing siren, self-love advocate, IG influencer
Lilly Singh – Just started following her, but what I can tell is that she makes amazing music and does whatever the hell she wants with love.
THINX – okay, this one is the business account, but its woman owned and the messaging of this company is solidly inclusive and affirming.
A beautiful project empowering women to birth how ever they want without feeling pressure to do it just because “the doctor says”
Catherine Just – film photographer capturing the breath and spirit of her fellow humans
Hannah Shaw – kitten rescuing, tattoo wearing educator. While she isn’t screaming “smash the patriarchy!” she is proving that you can be a sweet, kitten saving bad-ass “for a living”.
Lisa Zahiya – I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this Asheville based belly dancing, business owning, dead lifting power house. She’s teaching herself and everyone around her self-love and freedom.
Probably considered a “plus size” gal by society, she is an IG influencer and advocate for self-love and body positivity.
Super sexy boudoir photographer of ALL beautiful bodies.
Artistic photographer of all beautiful bodies encouraging radical self-love
Movement stomping on the stigma connected with abortion and the vilification of the women who choose (or not) to have them.
Removing the stigma associated with talking honestly about periods, pregnancy and the female anatomy
Lonely Lingerie – Another business who’s messaging I am in love with. Accepting and including all ages and bodies
Custom made lingerie, bathing suits, binder and other sexy shit created specially to make each body feel beautiful and comfortable