This Little Girl is Me
Something incredible happened on LinkedIn between 13 September and 11 October in the lead-up to the International Day of the Girl. I heard about it from my client, Katie Anderson (who you should definitely check out if you’re a leader who wants to become more intentional and people-centred).
Inspiring Girls started the #thislittlegirlisme campaign. And women from all over the world participated. They flooded LinkedIn with their #thislittlegirlisme stories. Why? Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models.
It further cemented my belief that in business you have to show everyone who you are – not only does it create space for the people you really want to work with, you also never know who needs to see your story, so that they can be inspired to keep pushing.
This campaign ended yesterday, but I encourage you to post yours anyway. Let’s keep inspiring women and girls all over the world to be fierce, and to dream.
My #thislittlegirlisme story
This little girl was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in green amniotic fluid, with the cord wrapped around her neck. It could only go up from there.
This little girl is the adult child of an alcoholic. This little girl has two childhoods: The free one, because as a white child in South Africa she had access to education, was privileged in a country that was wading through institutionalised racism in the '80s, and starting its recovery from that in the '90s. She spoke her mind, the child of liberals, standing up to her peers about the death of Chris Hani, and the life and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Because bystanders are just as guilty as perpetrators. As she writes this now, she feels she has no right to complain about the difficulties of her youth, knowing that the youth of people of colour her age was far more traumatic, painful and tortured than hers. Yet, at home, she was in her own kind of war. She co-parented her two younger sisters from the age of 12 when her father took to bed for a decade in an alcohol-related clinical depression after he'd lost their house, security, and all their money. She was bullied, shoved into walls, kicked in the back in class, and laughed at because she was outspoken, wasn't great at sport, and preferred to participate in debating, drama and public speaking. She was called a whore. Her nose was too big, her hair was too mousy, and her general vibes just didn't fit in with the wealth and perfection of the other kids at school. She was called ‘cute’ (a term coined by the kids who were allocated to the top of the popularity food chain, meaning ugly, but fuckable). People bought her and her family groceries. She wore second-hand clothes. She ate second-hand food. She used second-hand books. After school, she worked four jobs to pay for her tertiary education, rent, food, and transport, often staying up all night to get her essays submitted. She graduated top of her class. The absence of any kind of father figure in her life lead her to marry a man who locked her in the bedroom and screamed at her for hours on end, for five years, because she wouldn't do or wear what he wanted her to. This galvanised her feminism. She had no idea that in her late 30s she'd be running a successful copywriting business, but here we are. She is deeply committed to helping women find and express their voices. Not in a woo-woo kind of way. In a fundamental rights kind of way. She is a proud feminist who acknowledges her privilege; and who knows in her soul that hard work is everything.
Woman: you are not here to smile. You're here to rise.
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