Here's the thing. Every time I do an event and get to meet some of you lovely readers, I come away inspired and always with new ideas for posts. This one came to me early on during my PA yesterday when I heard some version of 'I read your blog because you're not afraid to have an opinion' or 'I love that you have an opinion' from maybe every other person. I'm not exaggerating. It was both moving and unsettling. I'm very grateful that so many of you read my opinions. I really am. It wasn't always thus..
Ever since I can remember, although especially in my working life, people have said 'you're very opinionated' - and they nearly always mean it as an insult. Always. 'Oh she's very opinionated.' *side-eye*
It astounds me that this is still used - especially against women in the workplace and on social media - as a way of shutting someone down. We are all, each and every one of us, fully entitled to have an opinion. We may disagree - frequently - but isn't that the joy of being alive and present?
Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely spoken out of turn on occasion, and opened my mouth before engaging my brain, but again, we all do. Own it, fix it, move on.
Of course I have an opinion. So do you. For the love of your sanity, please voice it.
In the early days of this blog I was certainly more bolshy and 'loud' than I am now, because writing for 50 of your mates is very different to writing for the audience I now have. I've softened how I say some things - not because I am afraid of upsetting people, but because I get new readers all the time, who may not know my humour, and may take things literally, so I've tried to adjust my writing and reviews accordingly while still leaving my personality intact. It's not always easy, sometimes I do want to just say 'I cannot believe this SH*T is on the market, you absolute arsehole of a company.' but instead I just don't review it, or I'll just put *eyebrow* to a direct question on social media. I'm not interested in being negative for negative's sake, so for the most part, if I don't like something, I just don't focus on it. There's plenty of good stuff out there to be getting on with.
I'm not saying you won't meet resistance when you open your mouth, it can sometimes be incredibly isolating - especially on social media. And I think the younger you are, the harder it is, but we, as women, have to use our voice. This is much more than just blogging, there are plenty of bloggers out there who never have a bad word to say about anything. Everything is 'amazing!'. No, it's not. The bigger picture in this case is that they probably don't want to upset PRs and want to keep the freebies coming, but I'm not talking about them. It's so much wider than the blogging world.
You will never succeed in business, or feel like a full equal in a relationship, if you do not speak your mind. I'm not talking about being cruel, hurtful or mean. Let's leave that to the trolls. But it's a very quick, slippery, slope from not voicing your opinion to not speaking up to your partner/parents and feeling like you aren't being heard.
I knew early on that I would need to have my own business. I'm not great at being told what to do (shocking I know) and the word 'appraisal' makes me stabby. It's a horrific term. We 'appraise' another human being? Nope. The corporate world can keep that word thanks. And 'constructive criticism'? No. Maybe try 'supportive feedback' or something similar. Don't criticise.
I've been called 'gobby' by the MD of a HUGE company that you would all know. I may have taken it to heart had he not been the same man who openly used the 'N' word in an open plan office and a thick idiot who got his position because his wife founded the company. Someone like that does not get to 'appraise' me.
We need more women in higher positions in business. We need more women in the upper echelons of the beauty industry, which is still overwhelmingly run by middle-aged white men. (Don't get me started.) I'm not interested in blaming men for this. We're big girls. I'm happy to challenge them head-on.
We won't get there if we don't speak up.
You won't get there if you have nothing to say.
Lose the disease to please. It will make you ill, and in the process allow other people to treat you appallingly.
Teach people how to treat you.
Stick up for each other.
Speak up when you know in your gut something is wrong. Even if no-one else is. I promise you someone will join you.
It's not just about business, speak up in your relationship. If your partner doesn't like the fact that you speak your mind, you need a new partner.
At such a critical time in politics where middle-aged men are making life-changing and life-threatening decisions about women's bodies and especially our reproductive rights, you have to voice your opinion. 'Opinionated' is not only not an insult, it's absolutely crucial.