The Genetic Lottery

I met with the founder of WriteGirl today.

The dynamic, Vancouver grown, Keren Taylor – founder of a non-profit in L.A. that empowers women and girls every day to express themselves and to find themselves through writing – had breakfast and shared stories with me today.

We had a charming breakfast date, she and I. We sipped deliciously foamy latte’s, remarked on the pacific northwestern style decor inside Rainier Provisions in Gastown, and talked a lot about girls. About women. About justice. About silence. About stories – 0ur stories.

She suggested that I watch Carmen Russell’s Ted Talk on beauty… so I did.

To be quite honest, shockingly honest, I haven’t watched a single Ted Talk yet.
I know, I know!!

I’ve heard the reviews, picked up on the buzz and excitement surrounding these short videos, been verbally supportive and excited myself with people, but I’ve never sat down and watched one myself.

Carmen’s talk was my first.

And you know what? The truth and impact of it all, of what she shared, was like a soggy wet spaghetti noodle, stuck to my neck.

It’s as if I’m the worst spaghetti eater in the world, and every day I have a noodle stuck on me somewhere. As if I can’t get rid of it even if I try. As if the beauty that she talked about, the beauty that society desperately desires and encourages, is the soggy wet spaghetti noodle that I’m stuck with.

And she’s right. I’ve lived so many days of my life with the same mindset – that I won a genetic lottery (completely by chance) and that there’s nothing I can do about how people perceive me. Some people judge me, stereotype me, and put me in boxes because of how I look. Others are impressed with me before I even open my mouth. Like the greasy looking man at the Jiffy Lube today who changed the oil on my car and gave me a $6 discount because I was a “pretty little thing.”

If only society didn’t view women as “things.”

If only society could place as much value on who we are, as it does on what we look like.

For the record, I do think we’re getting better. We’re evolving and we’re making strides towards further gender equality, but… we still have a long ways to go.

People like Keren Taylor give me hope and inspiration, and help me to believe that one day, I too will be a strong advocate for women. That I too will escape the pressures forced upon me and feel grounded in who I am and what I offer others.

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