My previous post was about the painting at the painting party, but let me share a bit about what else went on.
I sat with five women. We are all strong, smart, beautiful, powerful, talented, and have families. I am an introvert, and I know one or two of the other women are, too. Not super comfortable with crowds, but we can fake it well under the right circumstances.
So we’re painting, and everyone else is using templates to draw their fish, but I’m feeling goofy and comfortable with these people, so instead of using the template, I draw a simple “infinity” fish (where the tail is a triangle and the body is a teardrop).
The woman to my right says, “Look at Nicki, showing off.”
The painting continues and we’re all having fun. I’m able to help my neighbors a bit because I’ve done this before and know a couple of things. It’s fun, we’re laughing, I still have some beer in my coffee mug (because then I don’t pick the wrong plastic cup to drink from, of course).
A woman further to my right says, “Look at Nicki. You can tell she’s the artist. That’s amazing, I’ll never do that well.”
And I smile but don’t reply because I don’t like that kind of direct attention, and compliments are hard to accept.
Someone chirps up. “She’s not even denying it. She knows she’s good.”
Someone else says, “I know, she’s not even denying it. I’d be like, ‘No, it’s not.'”
And someone else replies, “I know, right?”
I’m so flabbergasted that any reserve I have blows right out the window and I say, “But that’s not how you’re supposed to accept a compliment! You’re supposed to smile and say, ‘Thank you.'”
And then I did, although I don’t think the woman who offered the compliment heard me or looked at me. I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Women. Friends. Sisters. We are trying to raise strong young women who know their own worth. Please stop the self-depreciating comments. Please stop replying to compliments with words that insinuate that either you have no self-worth, or that the person offering the compliment is stupid. Accept it. Smile and say, “Thank you.” That’s all. You are talented, you are worthy, you are beautiful. Stop calling folks who want to recognize that liars.
Smile and say, “Thank you.”
And there’s another thing.
Don’t try to shame me for enjoying myself. Don’t shame me for goofing off, or relaxing, or trying to have fun with friends. Don’t try to put me in a box because I don’t want to use a template. I want to make it as beautiful or as dorky as I want to.
So what if I was showing off? So what if I walked around the entire room to share my joy? Did I tell you what you were doing was wrong? No. Because it wasn’t. And neither was my silly fish drawing that was only meant to bring me (and hopefully you) joy.
Don’t shame me.
Women, friends, sisters: don’t shame each other. We get enough of that from men who think we are less because we don’t have a penis. We get enough of that from ourselves after getting media messages daily, hourly, by the second that reinforce that many still view us as less.
We aren’t. We must support each other, and we must support our children so our girls know that we don’t stand for that shit.
So the painting was a lot of fun, but the reminders in feminism were better.