Today is International Women’s Day—a good day to write. I am a woman. I have a voice.
After working many years as a lawyer in large corporate environments, I am now the owner of a small boutique fitness company. We specialize in weight loss and obesity. My job is to support my clients on their journey to better health—to reduce the inflammation and numerous health risks associated with carrying significantly extra weight and with a lack of physical activity. To me, my work is more about empowerment, less about aesthetics.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day is “A Day Without Women--“ a protest to call attention to the economic injustices facing women and to highlight our value to the economy. As I headed out to work today, in my red solidarity puffer vest, I considered the notion of our impact/power on the economy and on governance in general. In this country, I suspect women make the majority of the home-related, day-to day purchasing decisions. It seems to me, we demonstrate our power not only by skipping work today (for those in a position to do so) but also by showing up not only at work but in every other sense.
As a woman business owner, I have the power to hire other women. I have the power to shop at stores and restaurants and other businesses owned by women. I can attempt to find women doctors (assuming they are covered by my health plan and that I have a health plan) and lawyers and accountants. Most of us also have at least some power to avoid doing business with establishments that do not support women.
In order to ensure that more women can find their way to pay equity, owning businesses and financial independence, we need to show up. We need to learn as much as we can from every job and academic opportunity we get. We need to be the best employees we can be. We need to show up to work on time, do our homework, study hard, pay attention, and watch and read the news. We need to get involved politically. We need to run for office. We need to vote. We need to encourage and support other women—to hire them, to mentor them, to pay them well, to speak up for injustices against them, and, sometimes, even to simply help them with childcare when we have the capacity to do so. We also need to ask other women for help when we cannot handle something all alone.
This may sound strange coming from someone in the fitness business, but we also need to focus less on whether our thighs look fat or our hair is frizzy or we have a blemish. When I was a lawyer, I was struck by how hard it was to keep up (physically) with my male boss, while walking to court, when I was wearing a skirt, heels and stockings and carrying a weighty brief bag. He was wearing trousers and flat shoes, of course. While it may sound trite, to have power, we also need to be comfortable in our clothing and in our skin. We need to take care of our health so we can continue to show up, but we do not need to waste time trying to live up to some man-made standard of beauty. We also have to work hard not to judge each other so harshly and tear each other down. Those distractions slow our progress (like those heels, skirts and hose) and diminish our fortitude. That "stronger together" slogan was not inaccurate.
In an effort to do my part, I did some quick research on women-owned businesses and found the following information that others may find helpful. These lists provide just a sampling of women-owned businesses (Java Fitness, for instance, cannot be found on any lists I have seen), but perhaps they will inspire all of us to look for others. Happy International Women’s Day!
With wishes of wellness,