A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

Fernie is a community that is full of strong, fierce, and dynamic women and girls—and that’s something to celebrate! 

International Women’s Day is an annual opportunity advocate for women and girls around the world. It’s a time to disrupt gender bias and dig a little deeper into what we really mean by gender equality. 

I’ve dedicated my life to the advancement, fulfillment, and empowerment of the outdoor women’s community. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way. 

1. Almost everything I’ve learned about feminism has come from Black women and that’s a really important thing to acknowledge. “Having a monolithic view of feminism is suffocating.” Kimberlé Crenshaw is an advocate, scholar, and activist whose famous Ted Talk on Intersectionality has garnered millions of views by explaining that the intersection between gender and race has a specific violence against Black women. Here in Fernie, we may feel a million miles away from this (our town is overwhelmingly white) but the term Intersectionality can persist as a way for us to tap into the broader, universal quest for equity among women. After all, a rising tide lifts all ships. 

2. Not one woman can speak for all women. I’ve spent 20 years in the outdoor industry and remember when the groundbreaking women’s skis were quite literally pink, small, and floppy. If your business plans to sell products to the 50% of the world that identifies as women—it’s worth asking at least a few women for their opinion. 

3. Someone once said to me, “What’s the big deal about women? If you want to be equal to men, you can’t complain if someone treats you differently.” It has taken me years to really articulate the best answer to this question because, “98% feels offensive when you’re used to 100.” (Robin D’Angelo). It turns out the United Nations sums it up quite nicely: “Investing in girls is one of the smartest things we can do to promote a healthier, more prosperous world. Every girl has the right to be in charge of her future and her fate, and we have the collective obligation to protect her rights and promote her wellbeing. Empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families around the world.”

4. I know I said that no single woman can represent all women, but there’s a pretty good chance that a woman reading this (or someone you know) has experienced body shaming. Internalized sexism is a beast, and while I can’t claim to have all the answers—I do have a good antidote. Next time you find yourself saying something negative about yourself or your appearance, try saying out loud, “Is this how I would talk to my best friend?”

5. Practice Radical Self-Love. Society hints that we’ll be happy when we climb the ladder. If we look a certain way, buy a certain thing, or achieve a status—guess what? There’s another ladder to climb! Don’t get me wrong: Do. All. The. Things. But do them for you. Otherwise, get rid of that ladder and practice some radical self-love, the belief that you are enough, despite all your shortcomings (no one is perfect!). PS: This is another thing I learned from a Black woman, Sonya Renée Taylor—check her book out, The Body is Not an Apology.

As we round the sun to mark another holiday (and don’t forget, the entire month of March is Women’s History Month), remember that what we even define as gender is constantly expanding. As women, we can lead the charge to ensure all marginalized communities benefit from the advocacy, self-care, and empowerment that we embody in our local communities.