Noa Cadet | Staff Writer
As the month of March came to a close, we can’t forget that March marked Women’s History Month, a celebration of women across the world and their contributions throughout history. In celebration of the month-long observance, the Women’s Empowerment Event was March 26 in the Student Center Ballroom.
The Women’s Empowerment Event consisted of a panel discussion involving several students, hosted by Megan Hill, the health education specialist at Hampton University. Instead of inviting a speaker to lecture on what a proper, empowered woman was, this event consisted of a discussion between the panelists and the audience. Students and even some alumni offered their views on empowerment and knowing your own self-worth. Yet, the question remains. What exactly is an empowered woman?
The definition varies from person to person. When asked this question, a few Hampton students who attended the meeting offered their own spin on the term, and what it means to them.
“To me, an empowered woman is someone who is confident of her shine,” said Brianna Smalls, a junior psychology major from Fairfax, Virginia. “She doesn’t dim her light for anyone. She is uplifting and strong.”
Nia Dix, a junior marketing major from Atlanta, added, “An empowered woman is someone who is comfortable with the skin they are in, someone who doesn’t dim their light, and someone who is willing to say what needs to be said. Somebody who is willing to reach back and lift as you climb.”
During the panel discussion, the audience and the panelists agreed that an empowered woman isn’t held to a single standard. She doesn’t have to be a world-famous talk show host or a social justice leader. She doesn’t have to be famous. An empowered woman could be anyone from your mother to Oprah Winfrey. There isn’t a single standard, and the age-old view that has been placed on the image of a “proper woman” simply does not fit, or rather, does not have to be the only mold to fit.
The Hampton students in attendance also agreed that being an empowered woman was not about being perfect; in fact, there is power in realizing that we, as human beings, are flawed. The empowered woman does not have to be disciplined in the traditional values, and it is certainly not about putting yourself down for not fitting a certain criteria. The empowered woman is about following your own personal style, your “personal brand,” as several panelists phrased it. This personal brand adheres to all aspects of life. Present yourself as who you are. There is no need to observe to someone’s standards to please the public. Your personality, your clothes, the way you hold yourself—there is no reason to curb it. Style yourself around yourself, and empower yourself through your own self-image. Be who you want to be.
And it doesn’t just stop there. The panel discussion also brought up the role of social media in the lives of young people today. We all know what social media is, and it is safe to say the majority of our generation participates on at least one platform. While the benefits and social aspect of social media are apparent, the dangers it poses are often not so easily seen. Some of our own peers spoke of their own experiences with social media, and how it negatively affected their own concept of self-worth. Instead of being confident in themselves, they succumbed to its pressures. The likes, the comments—social media’s contents—began to affect them emotionally. What they felt is not an isolated factor, it is a growing problem. Many young people find themselves captivated by whether their pictures and selfies are liked, or who is commenting on what. We are emotionally invested in social media, and it could easily ruin our self-esteem. Many of the panelists reported that the difference they made in their lives was not to throw away social media altogether, but to realize that the only validation they need is from themselves, not from the wandering eyes of whomever was looking at their pictures.
The empowered woman is aware of her own self-worth and her own beauty, and represents her own personal brand, for the only person who can determine her own validity is herself.