What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term, “blonde”? Do you think of a smart woman?
For example, in late September, I attended a workshop at the BellyFit Summit with Taryn Brumfitt, creator of the Body Image Movement. The purpose of the Body Image Movement is to “to reach as many women as possible around the world and speak to them about how we can learn to fully embrace and love our bodies.” Taryn is also the creator of Embrace the Documentary and co-creator of The Unstoppable Program. I had been inspired by Taryn’s work for awhile; in person, she was authentic and her talk about body image was powerful and engaging.
After the workshop, I had the chance to thank her in person and take my picture with her, which is attached below. What stood out about Taryn for me was that she really makes you feel like you matter. She’s so wise and has such a beautiful heart!
Taryn’s workshop really fuelled my enthusiasm for helping women to focus on their inner beauty, rather than their physical appearance.
When I think about it, I realize that Taryn and I are very similar, as we are both focusing on changing mindsets. Yet, when people see both of us, our work isn’t what people focus on.
For example, I got a reminder of that when I posted the picture of Taryn and me on social media. I got a couple of emails from followers remarking on how much Taryn and I were alike as we were both blonde. Not our achievements – the colour of our hair!
Yes, one of my defining physical characteristics is that I’m blonde. I was born a blonde and will always be a blonde. The shade varies depending on the time of year and the amount of sun I get, but my hair always stays blonde.
That is my hair colour, but it says nothing about who I am as a person or my intelligence. I love being a BLONDE!
People see my hair colour and think of me as the stereotypical “dumb blonde” – a young woman who focuses on her appearance and not her intellect. (The reference doesn’t refer to men, of course.) I’ve heard all sorts of jokes relating to this stereotype, and they get old. That image is not me. I wish “blonde” was not synonymous with “dumb.”
Before even getting to know me or look at my accomplishments, people have a picture in their head of how a blonde - and therefore I - should be. They group me into this category and define me by this label.
During a conversation not too long ago, on learning that I am talented in math, statistics, science, and technology, people remarked that they didn’t expect me to pursue this career choice as they didn’t know any other blonde females in the field.
Can I not be seen for my talent if I am blonde?!
Yes, I am a blonde; and yes, I am intelligent. There are many other smart, strong blondes out there! I know many personally.
While you may think my experiences are unique about how others think of me in terms of my appearance, I am not alone in feeling this way. Many other women of all ages feel defined, or minimized, by their ‘blondeness.’ I’m not the only one this happens to; I have had blog readers tell me, “Thank you for being such a role model - for being both smart and blonde.”
People are so focused on my exterior that they don’t think of my interior. What I realized, though, was that it has not been the stereotypical label that has defined me; it is how in the past I have sometimes reacted to its subtle overture in society.
There have been times when I haven’t been able to shine on the intelligence front because some people didn’t take me seriously. They defined me only by my outer appearance. So, I ‘dumbed’ down myself and downplayed my talents because that is what was expected of me.
Yes, my light may have dimmed a bit during such times, but it didn’t extinguish. I have held tight to what I know well: You cannot control what will happen to you or how others will treat you. You CAN control, however, how you react to situations and to others. Learning how to respond in a positive manner is key!
I want to change what comes to mind when people hear the word, “blonde.” “How will I do so?” you ask. My answer: “By keeping being me, by standing tall, and by shining brightly for the world to see.”
I have printed out the picture of Taryn and I, and it now sits where I can look at it daily. It serves as an important reminder to embrace my awesome self!
This is just one of the labels I deal with. But I am not alone. Through conversations with many, I have heard countless stories of how others have been influenced by restrictive labels. I encourage you not to dim your light but continue to stand tall.
You never know who is learning from you. REMEMBER: YOU ARE SPECIAL! YOU MATTER!
As Taryn has shown, look what can happen when you change your mindset and embrace your awesome self! Amazing! Watch the trailer of Embrace now!
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the Comments section below.
See you at the beach!