Today is International Women’s Day, celebrated by females worldwide to empower, learn more about and support each other while calling for greater equality.
Over the past few years I’ve honored IWD by hosting a private event here in New York City. The annual occasion means a lot to me and I’ve taken to using it as a day that represents my journey (being Australian of Lebanese/Greek Cypriot descent now living in America, I’m definitely representative of the theme!). This year I decided not to put a party together and use the time instead to reflect on where I’m at in my personal and professional life. This year’s IWD theme is #MakeItHappen and so I’d like to add to that: Against All Odds.
I recently came to a significant realization that was like a slap in the face. Like many things in life it hit me out of nowhere but once recognized, seemed plain as day. I’ve been frustrated for a long time about “connecting” to people, something very important (especially nowadays) in my line of work. I kept thinking, what’s missing with me? I’m giving this career of mine EVERY SINGLE THING THAT I HAVE, I’m doing what it takes to build my image, but it never seems to be enough. I would constantly bang my head against the wall, frustrated beyond belief at what seemed to be my lack of “audience.” I have an incredibly dedicated group of core supporters but their numbers haven’t grown in a long time. While I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved over time (especially with big brands that have taken notice and collaborated with me) I know I’m yet to master the art of truly selling myself. While my peers’ social media numbers have steadily risen (the barometer of today’s popularity contest) mine have stayed frustratingly stagnant and I had no idea why. I read countless articles on “building your online buzz,” made an effort to branch out of my comfort zone with the content I posted, interacted more with people and still, nothing.
As I was scratching my head for the umpteenth time about it all, it hit me—and it all immediately made sense. I am “Other,” as Pharrell Williams would say. I don’t have the built-in audience my (rivals?) do. I’m a journalist known and respected in hip-hop circles, but I’m not automatically relatable to my audience. I’m not Black or Latina, so platforms like Essence, BET and Centric are off the table for various opportunities. I’m a woman, so the boys club that prevails with things like televised roundtable discussions are often off limits (when women are included, bigger profile ones like Angie Martinez and Miss Info are usually considered). My racial background is confusing to many (is she white? What is Lebanese?) so I don’t easily fall into a category when casting directors are looking for new talent. I’m foreign with an Australian accent. How many of “me” is there realistically in the country I’m trying to build my following in, especially in hip-hop? Basically, none.
I’ve been on the verge of tears at times, knowing I was qualified (often over-qualified) for certain positions and at a loss to why I missed out. One time I was up for an important news role at a radio station and I knew I was a perfect fit for it. I was ultimately denied the chance to shine because senior management had an issue with my “international” accent on-air, when I’d only ever received compliments from our callers about my speaking voice. I was told very clearly because I don’t speak like the stereotypical “urban” female host (“Yo yo, what’s up, it’s your girl Boss Lady!”) I wasn’t suited. Instead of taking that as a sign to perhaps consider moving my career in another direction, I continued soul-searching. Hip-hop is my life and no one was, or is, going to tell me that I can’t do what I was born to do.
The path I’m traveling is a new one, an extremely tough one that’s had me feeling super low at the thought of sacrificing precious time with my family on the other side of the world to chase what seems like an impossible dream. But I’m doing it for me and most importantly, the kids who’ll come after me. Young people (women, especially) living in countries far and wide who grow up on hip-hop and have the same vision for themselves. Those who don’t fit the mold yet feel they deserve to be there. The “dream chasers” who believe in themselves when no one else does, who know they belong somewhere even when they’re told they don’t.
So I’m “Other.” The true definition of it. Thanks to this realization, I’ve finally stopped comparing myself to everyone. As much as I feel I relate to my peers, I’m not them. And they’re not me. I won’t be invited to certain events because of who I am, and I won’t be considered for jobs for the same reason. This is the game I’ve chosen to enter, so it was high time for me to understand the playing field and most importantly, how to tackle it head-on.
Instead of grieving the people I haven’t connected with yet, I cherish even more the ones I have. And slowly but surely, I’m becoming more comfortable revealing who I am through my digital presence. I’m much more different than I originally realized, and I’m okay with that! I’m building my own audience now, one brick at a time. Against all odds is the mantra this year and equipped with that at the forefront of my mind, I have no choice but to make it happen. I encourage everyone to do the same.
What do you get when you put a room full of motivated, intelligent, passionate and beautiful women from all walks of life together? A successful International Women’s Day event by Team Boss Lady Productions in conjunction with PYNK Magazine.
Each and every powerful woman at this brunch event, held at Ricardo’s Ocean Grill in East Harlem, spoke from the heart on challenges within their respective industries and how they are making strides to “inspire change” via their individual efforts, with a special dedication to mentor organization Youth At Risk.
Celebrating women is something we do on a regular basis at BossLady.tv so when International Women’s Day rolls around each year, it’s particularly exciting.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” ~ Gloria Steinem
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. On an individual and collective scale, the most important issue facing girls and women in today’s digital world is that of respect, for ourselves and others.
Is it even possible to teach our girls to rediscover self-respect in a time where critiquing and lamenting the loss of certain values is looked upon as judging, being envious and “hating”? Fewer and fewer young women are comfortable in their own skin and confident in their character. Self-respect means not allowing peer influence from your girlfriends and sexual pressure from boys and men to overtake you and determine your worth. We’ve all fallen victim to it, those of us growing up without strong role models especially. When self-respect isn’t instilled in you, you turn to what surrounds you. You’re drawn to, and eventually wrapped up in, dreams consistently sold to you. And if you don’t know any better, you blindly follow their lead. It’s time for more of us to lead by the right example. On a simplistic yet hugely important level, mastering self-respect is the key to empowering girls as they become women.
We really love “The 10 Keys Of Understanding” from Act Like A Lady, Think Like The Boss. As we commemorate International Women’s Day 2013, have a read of these very real and tangible life lessons and set forth on making them happen!
1. The boss lady never ever relies on one source of income. She understands that diversification is one of the cornerstones of wealth. She works diligently to establish several streams of income so that if one of them stops her quality of life is not affected in any way.
2. The boss lady understands that she is never to be a slave to someone else’s vision. Even if she starts out as an employee somewhere; her plans are in place so that at some point she is able to make her exit, strategically. She will then have the funding and knowledge to embark on her journey to profits and success.
3. The boss lady is her own cheerleader. She is confident in her decision making and has mastered the “inner games” and has a high level of emotional intelligence.
4. The boss lady does not fear her competition. She understands that competition is necessary to keep her creative muscle in shape. She views her competitors as her greatest allies and she befriends them by forming profitable relationships with them. United we stand..divided we fall.
5. The boss lady understands that financial success is not a solo act, it’s a team sport. The people in her personal and professional life play an integral role in her attaining success and she acknowledges them graciously and expresses her appreciation towards them often.
6. The boss lady understands that she was given a gift and the world is her stage. She is a global brand. She connects and does business with people all over the globe that hail from every hemisphere of the planet.
7. The boss lady understands that she is a leader. She is a walking and breathing testament of success and will conduct herself in such a way that people that don’t even know her will be attracted to her, because of the way she presents herself to world every day.
8. The boss lady surrounds herself with winners. She understands that it is necessary to be very particular about the company she keeps, because she understands that you are who you attract and your circle of influence is a direct indication of how successful you are in life.
9. The boss lady never forgets where she comes from. She is a social entrepreneur and is dedicated to the success of those who have the desire and courage to transform their lives.
10. The boss lady won’t stop, because she just can’t stop.
Twenty years ago Queen Latifah dropped her Black Reign album, featuring the breakout single “U.N.I.T.Y”. The song is still her biggest hit single to date, scoring the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The smooth track spoke out against the disrespect of women in society including street harassment, domestic violence, and slurs against women in hip-hop culture.
As we kick off Women’s History Month in 2013, we’re still exploring the same themes and dealing with the same issues in hip-hop and beyond. We’re quick to speak on oppression of women in far away countries like India, Jordan and Somalia but take a look in our own backyard and we’re nowhere near gender equality.
“Too many of us in the United States ignore the oppression on our doorstep,” writes Jessica Valenti, author and founder of the blog Feministing, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. She says America today is “basking in a ‘girl power’ moment that doesn’t exist; it’s a mirage of equality that we’ve been duped into believing is the real thing.” So let’s set aside the illusion of top-rated, female-driven reality shows, Beyoncé performing at the Superbowl and other feel-good moments to look at a handful of the hard facts:
Of all the women murdered in the United States, about a third are killed by a husband or boyfriend. The only country with more women known to have been killed by domestic violence than the US is Russia.
Just 17 percent of US congressional seats are held by women
More than 85 percent of US counties do not have an abortion provider
Females comprise a majority of US residents living in poverty
Women earn about 76 cents on the dollar compared with men’s earnings
In terms of the global sex trade, an estimated 50,000 women are trafficked into the US each year
Up to 700,000 rapes occur in the USA each year
Sixty eight percent of women believe sex discrimination exists in the workplace
These sobering statistics are a reminder that while we’re blessed to live in a society that grants us basic rights and freedoms, women are still suffering from oppression in the “first world” and in most cases, sadly not even realizing it. Queen Latifah voiced these concerns two decades ago and while numerous female artists are out there doing the same thing, we need our high-profile ones to step forward and drive the point home once again.
Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It’s celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and many other regions across the world.
The whole ethos of being a “boss lady” means standing out, taking chances, making strides and reaching back to help your fellow females. We’re excited to participate in Women’s History Month 2013 (we’ve always celebrated its standout event, International Women’s Day, on March 8) with engaging content, fresh giveaways and more (you can join us by using the hashtag #BossLadyWHM).
We ask you in particular to spend time this month researching and reflecting on the difficult journeys of the greatest women to walk the earth and be comforted in the knowledge that while it’s almost never easy, it’s always worth it.