Real women don’t…

This phrase drives me crazy.

“Real women don’t…”

It’s the limiting nature of it- and the implication that we need to define “real.”

This has been on my mind since I was in a meeting with a couple other women fly anglers earlier today, and we were talking about how different we can be. Women are wildly different and fascinating creatures. 🙂 We can’t be limited by statements like that!

We currently live in a world of memes, where everyone can go to a website, toss text on top of a photo, and you can share it with the world.

“Real women don’t work.”

“Real women don’t stay at home.”

“Real women don’t use formula.”

I’m thinking specifically of a time when I heard someone say, “Real women don’t fish in a bikini.”

heidi in captiva-1.jpg

Trust me- there’s a bikini bottom under there (I was fishing with my friend, Chris, who took the photo, so I wasn’t naked!). I don’t know about you, but I’m not a virtual woman. I exist.

Technically, they didn’t say it- they typed it, and I didn’t hear it- I read it. It was online, in a forum for women anglers. Written by another woman angler.

Being online didn’t make it any easier for me to “hear,” but I’m sure it made it easier for them to “say.”

I’ve had a couple gigs where I’ve been paid to talk about/work with/give presentations on being a woman in fly fishing. I embrace my girly-girl nature, because I don’t feel any need to hide it. I am who I am! 🙂

I wonder if the woman who typed that statement realized that there are plenty of women who are anglers who are wearing bikinis. I caught a fish. I wore a bikini. What’s the big deal? Why the need to tear me (and others) down? Is that even the intent of the statement? I have a hunch that it was meant to empower the women who fish but DON’T wear a bikini while they’re out there. In that case, we need to find a new way to bond as a group.

The more I think about it, and the more I look at this draft before I click ‘publish,’ the more I’m convinced that we have all had an experience like this, with a different word.

Real _______ don’t_______.

One example was from the start line of a marathon. I can’t remember which one it was for sure- probably my fourth or fifth (I’ve done nine, as of now). I had my headphones on, but my music wasn’t playing- I was waiting to hear the national anthem play. I typically run in tank tops, Mizunos, my Garmin, and a running skirt. Here’s an example of one of my skirts, taken by one of Brian’s BFFs, Lem.

(And yes, Brian was very excited to be finishing this race!)

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There were two women standing behind me, and we were all nervously shuffling and keeping warm, as it was a chilly, early race morning. I heard them comment to one another on my pink skirt… “Real runners don’t wear skirts.”

Were they kidding me? How many marathons would I need to run before I became a “real” runner?

The worst part about me overhearing their honest judgement of me was the doubt that I felt. They didn’t know I could hear them, so they told me exactly what they thought about my outfit. I don’t look like your typical distance runner, and I let their opinion of my outfit change the way I felt about myself in that race. It took me five miles to shake off that negativity!

These examples of women judging other women are just a couple, among many.

Women: please stop tearing each other down! We need to build our community. I’d love to see us lifting each other up.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned in my time as an entrepreneur and adventurer, it’s that you can’t let negative and judgmental statements get you down. Figure out what it is that you want, make a good plan, dedicate yourself, then… you do you!

As always, thanks for reading, friends. 🙂

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