DSC00555 Granma

 What an interesting coincidence it is that Mothering Sunday and International Women’s Day fall within the same month every year. So the month of March really is set out for the appreciation of women.

In the spirit of empowerment, I want to share a few tips I have learnt from my mother and late grandma, which I think are essential for every woman, no matter what age or background, to imbibe:

Dress Sense: My grandma once told me that a lady must always be well dressed and put together even when she is going to the market. I’m not suggesting a full face of make up and ball gown for every outing, but one unacceptable trend I find these days is women during their morning outdoor exercise dressed like they literally just rolled out of bed and forgot to take off their hairnets or wash the left over powder from the previous night off their faces…. It is interesting that later in the day, they look like cut outs from fashion magazines, a huge contrast. Consistency is key! So no matter where you find yourself (even at home), make a little effort to present yourself well, so you always leave a good impression.

Modesty: This comes hand in hand with having a decent dress sense. Nowadays, with the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga all over our television, computer and mobile phone screens, it almost seems like flesh has become an acceptable fashion statement. My mum doesn’t understand this mode of dressing, and even my dad and a few male friends continue to share their thoughts on this issue: One day, I was reading a magazine and came across a photograph of Kate Middleton when my dad happened to be passing by. He simply just asked, “Why can’t ladies these days dress more like this?”. It is interesting that Kate Middleton makes it to the same Best Dressed lists as other flesh-bearing celebrities, even in her modesty. To be honest, I would actually say that modesty is sexy; why give everything away, and leave nothing to the imagination? What is the excitement in that?

Posture and Movement: Some may not give much thought to it, but good posture is very important. From a young age, I noticed that my mum walked with a straight back and her head held up high. In admiration of this, I made an intentional effort to follow suit. Good posture gives an air of confidence, and let’s face it, your outfit always looks better when you glide in it…hence the emphasis placed on a great catwalk for models during castings for fashion shows.

Speech: My Grandma was a teacher her entire life, so her writing and diction were impeccable. I cannot really say the same for myself, but I try to make a conscious effort to improve my communication skills through my membership at Toastmasters (I highly recommend this). I believe it is extremely important for a woman, especially one living in the modern world, to speak eloquently. The common saying goes “Ladies should be seen and not heard”, but we don’t live in the 1920s anymore, so really, the modern woman should be seen and also heard but in a well-expressed manner, and by all means, avoid being the loudest and most obnoxious voice in the room.  Doing so is confidence booster, and helps women stand out amongst peers, both male and female.

Manners and Attitude: There is nothing I cannot stand more than a rude or foul-mouthed woman. Yes, we live in a world where it has become almost socially acceptable for women to display aggressive behaviour. But we have to remember our roots and behave in a respectable manner, such that we would also be treated with the same respect. The avoidance of vulgar language and adding a simple “please” and “thank you” to our vocabulary would never harm. My grandma always reminded me to greet properly and treat others with respect, regardless of their ranking…. Simple courtesy costs absolutely nothing. Another pet peeve is the woman who has a permanent scowl on her face. A smile every once in a while would not harm. Besides, it makes you more attractive and approachable, and which woman in her right mind does not want that?

Brains: You do not have to be a rocket scientist, or have the equivalent intellectual power as Sir Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. Everyone is different, but unique and talented in some way or the other. Insulting terms like “air-head” or “dumb blonde” are often used to describe women who do not appear to be smart. Have you noticed that there is no equivalent of these expressions for men? I think their use stems from the observation that some women do not make the effort to use their intellectual power to the fullest potential or sometimes even pretend to be less intelligent than they actually are. I admire my grandma because she did not allow the fact that she was “just a teacher” hold her back from becoming a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, whilst maintaining a home and raising many children.

I believe my grandma left an amazing example because I see some of her best traits in my mother, and am encouraged to continue to absorb these into my own life. I think it is essential for every woman to have these tools because they help empower us. The lyrics of the famous James Brown song go; “It is a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman on it.” So women, let’s continue to leverage on our abilities and positions so that we will continue to be relevant and treated with the utmost respect.

 

Happy Mothers’ Day.