I was 17, looking in the mirror and tying my hair in a low bun when thinking about appearing like a journalist. I then noticed the encouragement women get for their feminine features in the street and the lack of it in the office. I realised that long hair was not encouraged in several occupations. I realised that I doubted my abilities of writing when my hair was down. And I realised: We associate feminine features with a lack of ability to work due to the traditional roles that have not yet been eradicated. I no longer want to overthink my clothes and my makeup, my hair and my shoes when going to work. I no longer want to feel guilty for liking my long hair. I realise this has been an ongoing view for years and I no longer want to link every physical decision with my occupation. I no longer want to feel insecure when going make up free or be expected to wear a shirt that is never revealing or wear my hair up because I want to look ‘professional’. I want to feel beautiful and I want to feel that way with whatever makes me feel that way. I don’t want to doubt my red lipstick and I don’t want to doubt my hair if I didn’t straighten it that morning. Women come in every shape and style and are made by the decisions and choices they have made about their bodies. I hate that i have been moulded into thinking that the features that make me feminine should be hidden in the workplace.I wish they knew that female empowerment came with all of the embodiment of the name. Not just a brain and two legs. I wish they knew that women will always find a way to be women. Whether it’s their pride in their appearance or their ability to shut you up without saying the words and instead using a response that will leave you wondering their potential. Their ability to make decisions, their intellectual abilities, their compassion or their art are what makes women professional, not the outfit that they planned the night before. I hope that the day I have to get ready for work, I’ll leave the house feeling confident, and not uncertain of the physical choices I made.
I am now 18. I cut my hair because I relied on it to feel beautiful. I wear lipstick like it’s lip balm and I love wearing red. And I no longer feel like my clothes and my makeup need to change for specific environments because I feel proud of what I have to say.