Happy February! This month I want to talk about differences and similarities. When I decided to start The Squeezed Lemon, I’d originally decided to devote it to women of color as it is inspired by my mother and women of color like her who have paved the way for so many of us. However, while there are experiences unique to women of color, squeezed lemons come from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and that is one reason I didn’t want to limit TSL to just one ethnicity of women. Another is this, our differences can forever divide us, or we can celebrate our uniqueness and use it to accomplish great things that will benefit generations of all women.
Last year, I prepared an essay on the exclusion of black women from the women’s movement of the 1960s. At that time, white women were slow to understand that black women not only faced sexism, they faced racism as well. Shamefully, black women continue to fight the double-edged sword of racism and sexism. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau report studying women’s earnings and the wage gap, White, non-Hispanic and Asian women out-earn Black and Hispanic women. In her July 27, 2017 article for the Huffington Post, Ishena Robinson, makes an important point. Make no question about it, black women show up when it comes to the issues impacting our communities and our loved ones. Now it’s time for us to show up alongside our sisters in the struggle: women of all races and from all walks of life with whom we can share strength in similarities and give support where we differ. If the Women’s March in January showed us anything, it’s that we who support gender equity must work together if there’s any hope of achieving meaningful change. We cannot stand idly by while one group of our sisters is left behind. Increasingly, more women, including women of color, are running for public office. We must support their efforts and stand together.
As seen recently in the news, women of all ethnicities battle the scourge of domestic violence, sexual harassment and misogyny. And then there is our personal battle with our bodies. Bulimia and anorexia are debilitating diseases affecting women of all ethnicities. Did you know approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies, and only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by the media. Slowly, designers and retailers are beginning to understand that no matter her size, a woman wants stylish, well-made clothing that fits her body. Only our clothing is stamped with what I call “tags of intimidation.” Like me, you probably take 3 or 4 sizes into the dressing room, and try the smallest size on first. I don’t know why I think my behind is going to shrink by the time I get into that dressing room, but as they say, hope springs eternal. Anyway, I know many of you have clothes hanging in your closet that you can’t wear today, but at some point, you plan to get back into. Me too. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we find it so hard to love our bodies? Our bodies are awesome!! They make babies. Think about that. For nine months, we grow and nurture a human life. Then after it’s born, our bodies continue to be the means for feeding the infant. At the same time, we go to work, buy the groceries, cook the food, clean the house, do the laundry, take care of the kids, aging parents and elderly relatives, and still find the time to be a wife, sister, aunt, best friend, counselor and referee, and many of us have a side hustle. We do so much for so many. And when the day is done – so are we. We are tired. And according to The American Institute of Stress, for that reason women are twice as likely to experience major depression than men. Is it any wonder that our waistlines take a hit?
I’m all for exercising, eating right and getting in shape. But I want to do it for the right reason, and I want it to make me feel better about myself. So, here’s the deal. I’m giving you the rest of the month to prepare. Sit down, take a moment and just breathe. Now, I want you to get pen and paper and I want you to make a 30-day walking plan for March. I want you plan on taking a 30 minute walk each day. I don’t care if it’s at the gym on the treadmill. The goal is to use that time for you. This is not about losing weight or counting steps – and stay away from that scale! The entire focus is on taking care of ourselves. As you walk, I want you to pay attention to your breathing. Find an uplifting podcast to listen to as you walk. Listen to the book you fall asleep reading at night. Brainstorm ideas for your business or the one you’d like to start. Grab a walking buddy and get going. Our mantra for March will be:
Relax. Rejuvenate. Renew.
See you next month!