You know when you read something powerful, and it just sticks with you? Recently my sister, who teaches yoga, shared this important message: “you deserve to take up space, on and off the mat.”
A number of studies have found that men are far more likely than women to command the use of their personal space. And this is not simply due to differences in size or anatomy. The essay “Power, Gender, and Group Discussion” was published in the journal Advances in Political Psychology in 2016. It says in many societies, with gender expectations come different approaches to power, and in many experimental studies, women placed in discussion groups with men are less likely to state their opinion or lead the group.
We tend to want to hide when we’re uncomfortable. In little ways, we try to stay under the radar and make ourselves unseen. But we do ourselves a disservice when we make ourselves small. If we instead lean into the discomfort, we open ourselves up, and we grow.
So, ladies, how do we do this whole ‘taking up more space’ thing? I think we start with self-care. We can also take up more space by showing up and letting our authentic selves be seen. One of the reasons I truly love the Perspectives segment is because of the individual, deeply authentic stories. We all belong here. When that voice in our head asks, “am I good enough?”, the answer is always yes. You are enough.
Kindness begins with ourselves. We need to stop apologizing for being who we are. There’s a scene I love in the movie A Simple Favor, where Blake Lively’s bold character tells Anna Kendrick’s more timid character to stop apologizing for doing nothing wrong: “you don’t need to do that”, she says; “you don’t need to apologize. It’s a (messed) up female habit.” So, friends, please don’t be afraid to be your authentic self. Or to stop over-apologizing. Or not to laugh at an offensive joke out of “politeness”. We don’t have to stay quiet.
Fellow women, don’t be afraid to take up space in big and small ways, everyday, in every place. On and off the mat.
I’m Jodi Ritter, and that’s my perspective. And I’m not sorry.