Dear Girls: Be Who You Are

Growing up, I was always known as bossy, loud, and not polite enough. I always knew what I wanted, and I knew how to respond to someone before they even finished talking. I always got called out for being this way, and I never understood why. I felt as if I wasn’t allowed to be sure of myself. Growing up, I realized that men were allowed to be bossy and to be whatever it is that they wanted to be. Men were allowed to be determined and assertive. Maybe this was something I saw because I was raised in a Hispanic household. My father was very aggressive and thought he could push everyone around. Although my mother decided she’d had enough and said “no more” to my father, my step-father’s needs still always come first. If I’m assertive then I’m stuck up or rude. If a man is assertive, he’s a leader or a boss.

 

As I got older, I realized that, according to society, women aren’t “allowed” to do a lot of things, and they are expected to be a particular way. For example, if we are not skinny, tall, covered in makeup, and polite, we are “fat,” “pig,” “disgusting animals.” And, that’s according to the current president of the United States. (“Donald Trump Sexism Tracker, Telegraph). It’s not just men who seem to think this way. One time, I was at work and overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter. The mother was explaining that a woman should always wear makeup. When I interrupted to say that I, who wasn’t wearing makeup that day, disagreed, she asked you’re not afraid of how men will look at you?”

I can’t thank god enough for surrounding me with all strong and independent women who taught me to be myself and to never be sorry for being the person that Iam. Growing up (and to this day) my mom talks to me about never ever relying on anyone but myself, to never give a man the power to say “if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have that.” I learned to be independent and to work hard to be able to succeed on my own. I want to be sure of myself, and, if that means I’m bossy, so be it.

I want my niece to be successful, to be able to own something for herself, by herself–because of her hard work and not because someone handed it to her. I want her to be bossy, to be sure of herself, and to be assertive. I want her to push down the stereotype of what a woman should be. I don’t want her in that box. I want her to say, “I want to be like my aunt. I want to be like her.” So, I know that I have to continue to be who I know I should be and not who others tell me I should be.

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