By: Victoria Gonzalez
"What's with all the feminism propaganda all of a sudden?"
That's what I found in my DMs a couple of weeks after I decided it was time to start speaking up and giving people a piece of my mind.
Honestly, though, it was a fair question. Although I had been, by no means, spreading "propaganda", I could understand the confusion as to why I had begun to call myself a feminist.
Feminism wasn't something I had really given much thought to until just recently. I had always kind of just gone along with what everyone else was doing without ever giving it a second thought.
Then, last year, something pretty crazy happened. I realized that I was the only one who could create something better for myself.
It doesn't seem like a huge revelation, does it? It seems like it should be painstakingly obvious. It wasn't for me though, and I've come to realize that there are many others who it isn't obvious to either.
Self-care has become such a big thing today because self-love isn't an easy goal to achieve.
"Stay true to yourself."
"You are who you surround yourself with."
"No one can make yourself feel bad without your consent."
These are just a few of the saying that most of us have heard echoed to us time and time again.
However, there is a difference between knowing and truly understanding.
This discrepancy is a result of the fact that we are so often being pressured to choose a certain thing, behave a certain way, talk like this, dress like that, etc.
I've experienced this, but like many, had never realized. You know how people talk about systemic racism? Well, sexism is sadly another bias that has been ingrained in our society.
Before we're even born, at our baby shower, pink is for girls and blue is for boys.
Then as children, dolls are for girls and cars are for boys.
As teenagers, makeup is for girls and muscles are a guy thing.
Then as adults, women should cook and clean, while men work to provide for their family.
Yes, we've made a lot of progress in breaking down these misogynistic views and barriers, but we still have a long way to go. Especially in third-world countries.
But what made me realize all this?
Well, I had always been pretty dependent on others. As a little girl, I had an imaginary boyfriend (I wanted to be like the Disney princesses); my first "boyfriend" was in sixth grade; in middle school alone, I dated nine people; and my first REAL relationship took me a year and ten months to get over.
It was that last one that made me realize I didn't love myself all that much. The reason it took me so long to get over him was that I loved him more than I loved myself.
I thought I always had to know someone or have someone before I could actually be someone.
I know it might sound obvious that this was not true but, for me, this was one of those things where there was a difference between knowing and understanding.
I made a lot of mistakes and even if no one had been judging me for them, they didn't need to. I was hard enough on myself. I would slut-shame myself unconsciously for a lot of things that weren't my fault.
How did I move on from this?
Once I was able to accept and reflect on the fact that the way in which I thought of myself was wrong (even if I didn't believe it at the time), I started slowly cutting off toxic people and trying to figure out who the real ones were.
Most of the people who I had become "friends" with since that breakup were not only toxic but temporary as well...and I had become not much more than an extension of them.
This was painful to realize, but I empowered myself with affirmations like:
"Stop looking for your other half. You are not a half."
"My body, my choice."
"All sizes are beautiful."
"I don't belong to anyone but myself."
"Don't be limited by other people's limited imaginations."
These helped me realize my self-worth and the power I had. This helped me see that in reality, my "loss" was really a gain. I hadn't lost anything except those who never deserved me in the first place.
What does any of this have to do with Feminism?
Feminism is the very embodiment of all these values.
Feminism isn't just about equality.
It's about helping women keep up the courage to fight through barriers.
It's about teaching our society that the social norms we perpetrate are not okay and we need to do better.