Category Archives: Think

You don’t need a daughter to care about gender equality.

This weekend we’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day. On March 8th, to be exact.

This post is just one of many in a content celebration over at Personal Finance by Women. The entire celebration will be live on Sunday — be sure to check it out!

Why is gender equality important?

You shouldn’t care about gender equality only because you have a mother.

Or a daughter.

Or a wife.

You should care about gender equality at a basic moral level. Because when one group of people’s freedoms are limited, no one is truly free.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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You should care about gender equality because it’s screwed up that someone can work just as many hours and earn less money.

It’s screwed up that it will be argued that those hours aren’t worked “as hard” when they’re worked by women.

It’s screwed up that women feel pressured to reenter the labor force before they’re physically healed from childbirth. Because we’re under some legitimately crazy notion in this country that the cause of the gender pay  gap is somehow maternity leave.

Women lead the small business sector in terms of growth. It’s messed up that they have trouble securing funding for those small businesses. Most of the money goes to male-owned startups. Effectively stunting growth.

Actions spurred on by gender inequality are illogical.

Its impacts may be disproportionate, but not pursuing gender equality negatively impacts everyone in a society.

Don’t care just because you have a female relative.

Care because it’s wrong and detrimental to society at large.

How does gender equality help support sustainable development?

Gender equality is the UN’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal.

Why is it so important?

Well, for one thing, the world economy can and has benefited from increased gender equality. Over the past 50 years, 50% of global economic growth can be directly attributed to the increased education of girls.

Today, it is estimated that increasing female employment rates in OECD countries to that of Sweden — which is one of the most gender equal countries in the world — would boost GDP by $6 trillion.

When women are allowed to work and are then compensated fairly for their work, the entire economy performs better.

It is also important to note that the UN has determined the most dangerous place in the world for a woman is in her own home, and that domestic violence is a primary concern when we talk about sustainable development.

What can I do to run a gender-equal workplace?

Obviously big, institutional changes need to happen if we’re going to squash gender inequality completely, if that’s even an obtainable goal.

But there are things you can do to work towards a more gender-equal world, especially if you own a business or have some type of managerial control over your work environment.

Don’t Demonstrate or Tolerate Pervy Workplace Behavior

The only workplaces I’ve operated in where I have not experienced pervy behavior have been those dominated by women.

Whether you’re hitting on a woman, telling a gross joke, or comparing her looks to those of her coworkers, none of it is appropriate.

Don’t even get close to that line, and do not tolerate the behavior in any of your business dealings — whether it’s a client you’re assigning to the sales team or that annoying jackass at the water cooler.

If women don’t feel safe in the workplace, they’re less likely to advocate for themselves — with due cause. This can result in anything from less confidence in salary negotiations to her leaving the job altogether — perhaps even without an explanation.

Pervy behavior makes women feel unsafe. It doesn’t matter whether you think it ‘should’ make them feel unsafe or not. It does.

And that is more than enough reason to stop.

Flexible Work Hours

In an office environment, you could operate your business so it’s open longer, but employees have more flexible options.

For example, you may be open 7a to 6p. You could then require employees to pick any 8 hours to come in and work. As long as they’re attending necessary meetings and getting their work done, it shouldn’t matter if they need to run home for an hour to get their kids off the bus or drive someone to soccer practice.

This and other larger, institutional measures are suggested by Chatón T. Turner, Esq. in The Feminist Financial Handbook.

Implement Parental Leave Policies

Oh, did you just assume that was mom getting the kids off the bus and driving everyone to soccer practice?

It’s okay.

I would have assumed the same thing.

We assume women are primary caretakers. We assume that is their primary role — one they are morally obligated to dedicate more time to than the paid work which feeds their families.

If we want to remove this perception, we need to encourage and recognize that men can be primary caretakers, as well.

Providing parental leave policies, and actively encouraging employees to take advantage of them, is a key step.

Allow for Remote Work Opportunities

Where possible, allow for remote work opportunities. While we’re working towards a gender equal world, the burden of childcare still falls largely on women in this moment. Women who are the heads of the overwhelming majority of single-parent homes.

Allowing for remote work acknowledges the extra burden women continue to shoulder as de facto primary caretakers. It permits them to stay home when the kiddos are sick without losing their job. It allows them to add value to your company even in a situation where they’d typically face gender discrimination — and you’d typically have to go through the time and expense of finding a new hire.

And it allows men to do the same, further normalizing the care of children as a responsibility all parents must shoulder regardless of gender.

Publish Salary Audits

Oof. No fun.

But neither is the gender pay gap.

Or the racial/etnocentric pay gap.

Or the pay gap gender minorities experience in the workplace.

Publishing salary audits does a few different things. First, it keeps you honest. You know you’re going to be publishing this information. Hopefully that fact encourages you to pay people equitably.

It also builds trust. Your employees are now empowered to ask for what they’re worth if they’re not getting it. If they are, it builds further respect.

I’m not a boss. How can I work towards a more gender equal world?

While the burden is on no individual woman to force the system to respect her, there are things you can do even if you’re not the one in charge of your workplace.

A lot of the changes we need to happen are cultural, and cultural opinions change one person at a time. When you find yourself in a conversation where gender discrimination is at play, challenge it when it’s safe to do so.

The other big thing you can do is vote. Research who is running in your area, where they stand on different issues, and if they support the cause of equality in potential legislation or judicial conscience.

Not just gender equality. Also racial equality. Equality for the Rainbow community. Equality for the disabled, the victims of Islamaphobia, xenophobia and all the prejudices that come up against Americans in the workplace and elsewhere in their day-to-day lives.

Because until we all have equal access to true economic freedom and justice, all the arguments about individual economic actualization are bullshit.

Comparable Worth and Early Childhood Education

a bunch of toys lined up with a color scheme of green, orange blue and white.

Last Spring, I attended an event called Statement. The first day, a bunch of us money writers listened to panel after interesting panel, each taking on a different aspect of working within our field as women.

One of the panels in particular delved into economic inequality. The idea of comparable worth was brought up. It’s an argument that was made in the 80s that essentially says we should compensate those working in female-dominated fields the same as those working in male-dominated fields.

So many excuses for the gender wage gap hinge on the fact that women tend to enter lower-paying fields than men. While we this is true, there are two contingencies we must consider alongside this argument:

  1. Even when we norm out for these differences in career choices, women still face a discriminatory pay gap.
  2. Why the hell do we pay those working in female-dominated fields less in the first place?

Historical Cultural Norms and the Gender Pay Gap

number one amazon new release womens money

I made an argument for comparable worth in The Feminist Financial Handbook, which was published the October before I attended Statement. From Chapter VII: The Elephant in the Womb. Full sourcing available in the book:

It is true that women tend to go into less lucrative fields. Jobs in fields like education and domestic work pay far less than opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.) It is also true that we have a cultural tendency to encourage our daughters towards these lower-paying fields, failing to nurture and praise talents that could one day be used in the higher-paying fields. We tend to do the opposite with our sons.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t encourage your daughter towards STEM professions. If that is where their interests and talents lie, or it’s not and they simply want to get money out of their career rather than passion, I personally think it’s a good idea. I would say the same for our sons.

However, I also think we need to look at this issue on a deeper level. Why do fields like education and domestic work pay less? I’d argue that it’s less about the importance of the work and more about inherited cultural norms we don’t even think to question.

Teachers, for example, are in high demand in many parts of the United States. The profession requires a quality education, and skills beyond content knowledge. You have to actually be able to apply the concepts you learned about in school to your work and interactions with human beings. Those human beings will grow up to be taxpayers and hopefully innovators, pushing our societies to what we hope will be higher planes of moral and material comfort. We all want our children to have a better life than we did, and a huge part of making that happen is getting a good education from skilled teachers.

Yet, this profession notoriously pays low wages. Over the past year, there have been multiple teacher strikes across the country, often in some of the lowest-paid regions.

Another example is domestic work. In America, more than 90% of workers in this labor-intensive field are female, and immigrant populations are disproportionately represented. Keeping in mind that many workers in this industry have employers who illegally pay under the table—presumably at lower-than-legal wages–and therefore do not have their wages reported to the government, the average weekly wage of domestic workers in private households in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $398.72. Adding insult to injury, female domestic workers are often subjected to physical, sexual, emotional and/or verbal abuse within the households where they work .

Compare this to a field involving manual labor where men typically work: construction. Here, the average American weekly pay in that fourth quarter of 2017 was $977.99/week. That comes out to about $24.45/hour if you assume a 40-hour work week, and you may have benefits and protections as an employee, especially if you’re in a union. I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture—this field has its problems, too. In particular, opioid addiction tends to be high, but that is another issue for another day.

The average domestic worker gets paid less than half that of the average construction worker, and neither job is great for your body long-term. One field is dominated by women, and the other by men.

When we look back on our liberation as women, we have to think about the work we used to do for free. Domestic labor and raising children was the work of women—and our society and cultural norms dictated that we did it all for free. Education was one of the first fields where women were able to find some equal footing, but again, the compensation in this field tends to be low. Men, on the other hand, had their value assessed by their ability to bring in an income and provide for their family.

So which is more true: women gravitate towards fields that pay less, or we as a society value the fields that women are traditionally encouraged towards at a lower dollar amount?

It’s probably a little bit of both. But when we recognize that the field has been devalued because of the gender that’s dominated it rather than the actual value of the work, we can take steps towards fixing the system rather than placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of young women as they choose their career paths.

Comparable Worth in the Real World

The gender pay gap doesn’t just affect womxn. It affects our entire society. I loved this thread by Piggy from Bitches Get Riches explaining how this plays out when it comes to child care decisions, and the fact that those actually doing the hard, on-the-ground work are often compensated pitifully despite the mind-boggling costs.

The Twitter Thread on the Pay Gap and Comparable Worth

 

Comparable Worth in the Early Childhood Education

So the wage gap is a problem, forcing parents to make hard decisions about child care vs career before baby even arrives.

But because of rising rent across the country and the fact that when you’re taking care of infants and young children, you need a seriously low adult-to-child ratio to do things legally and safely, the money parents are paying rarely trickles down into the pockets of the people actually taking care of their kids in the form of larger salaries. Childcare workers still routinely make less than $10/hour, with the average right above the double-digit mark.

What if we cut daycare and early childhood education centers tax breaks and offered them lucrative incentives to move into our neighborhoods and communities like we do for oil and gas companies? Or automakers?

Is it because historically, women have taken care of children for free? So paying them anything at all is a generosity in our collective, societal eyes? While male-dominated fields like oil, gas and the world of vehicle production tend to either pay well or offer fantastic long-term benefits to W-2 employees? While the companies at large receive not just subsidies, but incentives, from both state and local governments?

Like Piggy, I don’t have any concrete, actionable answers, but I do think these are questions we should be asking. Because we sure as hell need the solutions. We’re not going to find them by telling moms their only choice is to stay home and sacrifice their economic independence.

The Past 10 Years of Femme’s Entrepreneurial Graveyard

This past September, I went to DC for a major conference I used to attend every year. It was the first time I had attended since the release of The Feminist Financial Handbook and the podcast appearances I made as a part of promotion. I was up for a few different awards. I was presenting on a panel.

I had just gotten my hair dyed by a professional for the first time. The greys were starting to show.

It was in this atmosphere that I hopped on an elevator. I wasn’t expecting anyone to recognize me. They usually don’t. I wrote anonymously for a very long time, and am still reticent to put my picture on things. Though you don’t have to look very hard to find it anymore.

I don’t usually mind that people have trouble placing me at first sight. In fact, at this conference, there were moments I was hoping this relative anonymity would hold. I had been having health problems and at certain moments during the conference that showed in my appearance.

But I got onto that elevator, and so did another young woman. She looked shy and almost afraid to talk. When she did the words came spilling out of her mouth. She had read my book and loved it and bid me farewell when the elevator jerked to a stop at my floor by congratulating me on all my success.

I smiled and thanked her, but when those elevator doors closed behind me I stopped in my tracks.

What had just happened?

The Relativity of Success

I didn’t feel very successful. Over the past few years, I had left a career field I loved, though it was not a decision I wanted to make. I was so grateful for this side hustle I had going on with writing, and for the opportunities that presented themselves exactly when I needed my hustle to turn into a full-fledged business.

My marriage had fallen apart. I had come to the realization that in my adult life, I had been so focused on surviving that I had never really taken the time to figure out who the hell I was independent of my responsibilities.

My emotional landscape was not feeling very successful.

But as I stood there, frozen outside the elevator bank like a weirdo, I tried to look for what she saw. I saw a book that was getting great feedback. One that — at least on some scale — achieved what it had set out to do: Start conversations that will hopefully contribute in some small way to cultural change.

I had toured a little for the book, both via podcasts and via some awesome independent bookstores I highly suggest you check out. Thanks to an amazing colleague, I had some great business opportunities open up independent of authorship.

I was launching a new professional initiative — one that I’ve been stewing on for a few years. It was getting positive feedback off the bat.

I even saw some things she didn’t see. Some behind-the-scenes work that is often even more rewarding than the stuff that gets public accolades.

Make no mistake: I am small scale, and my ego is even smaller. I have imposter syndrome at every turn, like most of us do. I am perpetually grateful and amazed that anyone cares what I have to say about anything.

What I should have said.

She was not the only person to approach me in this manner. In retrospect I wish I had hugged every one of them and told them not to be nervous. That I had gone back to my room to have a panic attack at one point during the conference because I was so overwhelmed.

That the success they saw was only one part of the picture, and that I was sorry if I had become so opaque that I was presenting a social media dream life.

But in the moment, I felt equally as awkward and not worthy of their attention and frankly I’m still just shocked any time people remember my face, which I worked so hard to hide for years.

My Entrepreneurial Graveyard: 2010-2020

Everyone’s been posting then vs. now pictures from 10 years ago. They’ve been reflecting on what’s happened to them in the past decade. Where they — and frankly, we all — might go in the next ten years.

In drafting up end-of-the-year post ideas, I decided to show you my entrepreneurial graveyard for the past ten years. Technically, I’ve only been doing this since 2011, so I guess it’s the past nine-ish.

I do this because behind every success in our lives, there are ten failures. I feel like this is either something that I’ve learned from my ventures into entrepreneurship, or it is a core value I hold that has helped me function in the entrepreneurial world.

I do this to hopefully present a little less opaque of a picture. And to show you that in this next decade, if three of the things you try don’t work out, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re pursuing some type of success.

Remember that success in one sector of your life does not necessarily permeate to all areas of your life. You could be killing it at work but falling apart at home. Similarly, your personal life could be rich and fulfilling, but you struggle with income.

We’re all somewhere on that incredibly variable spectrum. Remember that, and try not to place others above or below you (she says to herself.) This isn’t a race with a definitive finish line. It’s an infinite experience.

And money is only part of it.

#FinSavSat

Early in my blogging years, I percolated the community extremely heavily. Back then, it was how you built a blog.

And I loved it.

Early on, my bloggy friend Michelle taught me about cross-pollination. I don’t know if she even knows that. It’s something she taught me by example.

We would all read, think about and comment on each other’s content religiously. You could even use the comment section to find new bloggers.

I suppose there is an element of this today, but back then, this was a much larger part of the picture.

Anyways, in Michelle’s comment section, I would find beauty bloggers. That’s not really my thing, but they were such lovely people and I learned a bit about how to put on makeup!

Eventually, she explained that she loved personal finance, but with the amount of time she put into her blog (which was incredible — I’ve never known anyone to work so diligently with the hours she had available to her,) she needed to mix it up sometimes.

I started doing the same thing with mom blogs. As a new mother, and a relatively young mother, it was hard sometimes to do all the things and feel all the feelings and wonder if you were the only one going through it.

Blogs changed that for me, allowed me to build deep friendships across verticals, and allowed me to build IRL relationships with other bloggers here in my hometown of Pittsburgh back when I was the only PF blogger in the region of whom I was aware.

I digress…

ANYWAYS.

One of the awesome things I saw on mom blogs was the way they were building community. One of the most prolific tools I saw for doing this was link-ups.

Do you guys remember those things?

Once a week, everyone would come around and share a post via a linky tool. Then, you were supposed to comment on a couple other people’s shared posts.

I decided to start one for the PF community. I had awesome support from a handful of other women who helped me launch Financially Savvy Saturdays, or #FinSavSat, and a community was born. I ran it for about a year, and then handed over the reigns to the fantastic Mel of brokeGIRLrich who ran it up until very recently.

It was never monetized. After a while, people started having SEO concerns with link-ups after some algorithm changes, often because they were not written properly from an HTML perspective. As a result, participation eventually plateaued.

The point is, from a business numbers perspective, it was an unprofitable venture. If you want to label that a failure, you totally could.

But what it did do was build a bit of a tighter-knit community. When I went to my PF in-person event, I had people to talk to. We were already interacting on a weekly basis. On top of the personal relationships, I discovered cool money tricks to apply to my own personal finances that I would have never read had I not been browsing the shares.

Another thing I gained was a deep sense of gratitude for Mel beyond the joy I got from reading her content. She was a rockstar for carrying it on and did us all a great service.

The Frugality Challenge

After I came home from that first in-person event, I was motivated. I was energized. I had so many ideas and I implemented half of them at once. Of those, about half were successful. The other half kind of fizzled off.

The most successful of those that fizzled off was The Frugality Challenge. My income had gone up, and I was feeling kind of guilty that I wasn’t spending as much time on frugality as I used to. I’ve since learned to let go of that guilt in select circumstances where it doesn’t serve me, but that’s a whole other thing.

I started the #FrugalityChallenge on Twitter to get myself back on track and build community.

It was really taking off there for a minute. So much so that it caught the attention of a young brand in the space, Tiller.

We wanted to start rewarding the winner of the challenge each month with a gift card. In order to do so, though, I felt like I needed a better method than a Twitter hashtag to accurately track points and be fair. So we switched over to Facebook where we could log everything extremely accurately in a group.

When we switched platforms, participation didn’t fall off at first, but growth did. The hashtag was popping up organically on Twitter and converting new participants in that way. It just wasn’t the same on Facebook.

Eventually, we closed up shop. We had killer competitions while it was in operation, though. And it helped me get in touch with my frugal roots.

That Tiller company? They continue to have a great product, and have grown to a point where years later, we were able to resume our relationship in a new capacity. Today, they’re one of my favorite freelance writing clients.

The Shut Down Project

During the latest government shutdown, people were suffering. It was ridiculous.

I kept hearing about all these people trying to get by without a paycheck, trying to decide if they could even continue working in government moving forward. Trying to figure out how to recover from a crisis they were still in the midst of with no end in sight.

I knew several people who had relayed these stories to me about friends or family members. People from within the PF community.

I gathered some colleagues together to source some cash to help alleviate their economic struggle in some small way. That part went okay.

But at the end of the day, it was hard to get recipients to come forward to gather the cash. It’s complicated as a government employee, and there were bureaucratic lines that were harder to navigate than I anticipated.

HBU?

What have been some of your “failures” over the past decade, and what have you taken from them to create successes?

I launched a thing.

I’ve been hinting to you guys for months that I’ve got something fun rolled up my sleeves.

Well, today’s the day I finally get to tell you what it is!

Personal Finance by Women

In the independent financial media space, we’re a little more than 50% female. I think that justifies accurate gender representation when it comes to publishing opportunities, speaking gigs and features. I think that means we ‘ve got plenty of people with lived experience speaking to the issues of women’s finances that hiring those without to pontificate on the topic isn’t always going to bring you the best perspective and information.

Because I think all this, I thought it was time to launch Personal Finance by Women. Apparently a lot of other people think the same thing. Since its launch two days ago, Personal Finance by Women has tripled its membership — I’m still uploading profiles! And that was just from a couple mentions in online networking groups.

What does Personal Finance by Women do?

Personal Finance by Women is a social entrepreneurship venture which believes that just because you center the most intersectional of stories doesn’t mean you have to be a charity. There is value in these financial experiences, which contain something to be learned by all.

It’s not about helping anyone; it’s about empowering everyone.

To achieve this, we’re going to have lots of projects including:

  • Publishing and syndication of money stories centering intersectional writers who are paid fairly for their content.
  • An RSS feed featuring members’ content.
  • A bookshop featuring members’ tomes on money.
  • A financial literacy book basket initiative for charity auctions/raffles.
  • A source list for journalists attempting gender diversity in their sourcing efforts.
  • Service projects and initiatives in our membership’s various local communities.
  • Hashtags on Insta and Twitter featuring members’ content and further bolstering community.

How can I support Personal Finance by Women?

As I mentioned above, this is a social entrepreneurship venture — not a 501(c)(3). That means that while monetary support doesn’t get you a tax deduction, it does potentially get you other perks.

Those who become Early Access Subscribers on Patreon will receive access to original Personal Finance by Women content 24 hours prior to its public release.

You can also support by participating as a member, taking advantage of the fact that membership is currently free during launch. If you want to join as an ally, we’ll talk about how you can best support the initiatives we’re currently running. If you want to join as a woman or non-binary individual, we’re excited to check out your work!

The Costs of Performing Femininity

Last week, someone said something to me that stuck with me. It was hurtful, but the person meant it as a compliment. The words were not this eloquent, but essentially they told me the same thing my grandma told me back in 2004 when I attended her milestone birthday party:

“You clean up nice.”

When my grandmother said it, it made sense. I was a teenager who usually dressed in ripped up jeans, a hoodie and a beanie. To see me in full business casual was probably a legitimate shock.

But this person last week — I don’t feel like the similar comment was as justified. I’ve been “cleaned up” around this person before, and the way it was worded made me feel like my worth to this person was intricately tied to how much makeup I had on or the amount of jewelry that adorned my collarbone.

Without it, I wasn’t quite enough.

Performing Femininity

I was aware how much of a show getting girly was at a very young age. When I was a child, I loved playing baseball with the boys, hated brushing my hair and loved hanging out with the people I cared about. Eventually, cultural pressure kicked in and I switched over to the softball team. I started brushing my tangly hair on the regular. I don’t regret the latter.

When I was a teen, I learned to perform femininity to gain social acceptance. I am a cis woman, and I do feel better about myself when I’m all dolled up. Whether that’s because it’s what makes me happy or because it makes society treat me better I still have yet to figure out.

It’s inconvenient. It’s time consuming. And comes with other costs. Back in those days when I shocked the elderly by dressing up for birthday parties, I came across this quote that really struck me:

Femininity is not made for comfort or movement; it is made to accentuate the sexualization of a woman’s body — and that’s why things like holding the door open (so she doesn’t dirty her white gloves or expensive manicure,) pulling her chair out (so she doesn’t have to awkwardly move a bulky piece of furniture and risk getting it caught on her skirt or stockings and ripping something,) or holding her coat (so she doesn’t have to reach around and risk ripping the tight seams in her shoulder or upper back) are necessary to me, as an acknowledgement of how restrictive femininity can be, and of how difficult it is to walk around in these clothes, as a celebration of the beauty of femininity on the body, and with deep respect for the courage to costume and perform femme to begin with.

I’m not saying everything in that quote is morally right. Or that those who spoke the words are infallible human beings. Just that it was a thought that really made me think over the past 17 years.

The Costs of Performing Femme

Performing femme has a lot of economic implications for those who either do or don’t don the costume. If you’re not society’s whitewashed, caked on makeup, impossibly thin version of beauty, you’re less likely to get paid well at work or even secure the position in the first place.

There are those routine costs, too. The cost of makeup. The cost of clothing and unmentionables. Overpriced shoes that kill your feet.

As you’re getting ready for the day, the most feminine look is going to take the longest to apply — at least if we’re assuming femininity is defined by our society rather than us as individuals. When time is money, women are either waking up earlier to get ready for the day or spending time getting “pretty” when they could be working and bringing in an income. I’m aware the latter is a strawman’s argument, but this is a PF blog. Time is money is an important theme in our discourses.

Then there are the more dire costs of performing femininity as society defines it. Body image issues. Self-hatred and the need to address the mental health issues that come along with not being “enough.” Eating disorders. Potential of death if you take things too far.

Abandoning Aspects of Femme

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten far more comfortable in my own skin. I do feel better about myself when I’m dressed to the nines, but I’ve also started actually believing that my value is not tied to how well I perform femininity. Despite what the world may tell me.

Coffee mug reading "You should be more feminine. Me: Suck my dick."
When I landed in Boise, I spotted this mug at my friend’s house. The timing, y’all. Also this is why we’ve been friends forever.

I tried to wear heels a couple times after I had kids. I couldn’t wear them when I was pregnant because I’m super klutzy and would have fallen as my center of balance adjusted to my changing body. When I tried to resume the practice, it invariably ended in tears of pain. Eventually, I gave them up. Yes, I’m short. Yes, heels make me look even more bomb than I already am. But they’re not a necessary part of my femininity.

I am more than enough without them.

I’m also a remote worker. That means I don’t have to get dressed up to go into work. It’s beautiful, really. I’m crazy lucky I can work in yoga pants without makeup on while earning a decent income.

Why do I do it without makeup on? Why don’t I put on real clothes while I’m clacking away at the keyboard in my own living room?

Because I am more than enough without it. And yoga pants are freaking comfortable.

Also, my skin looks awesome when I don’t wear makeup for a few days. So there’s that.

I’m leaving on a jet plane.

Yesterday I flew into Boise for a book signing. Usually when I fly, I do the yoga pants or leggings thing. I try not to look trashy, but I’m also not trying to get all made up when I know I’m going to look a hot mess after 12 hours of travel.

But the comments from last week left me feeling insecure. I really respected this person and thought their respect for me was a little deeper than the jewelry I was wearing or the way I did my hair on any given day. Complimenting femininity is great, but when the largest part of your value as a human being is attributed to your external presentation at any given second, it’s more than demoralizing.

So before I hopped on the plane, I got all dolled up. Full makeup. Girly clothes. Later, I even put on a bracelet and necklace.

Women in full makeup smiling in a selfie demonstrating the costume of femininity.

Did I regret it?

Totally.

I wasn’t comfortable. My makeup melted throughout the day as I ensured I made flights, tried to catch up on edits on layovers and dragged my two bags throughout the entire airport because I’m too cheap to check.

While I had worked so hard to get “presentable,” the drunk dude sitting next to me and elbowing me throughout the entire flight stank to high hell. Reminding me that the standards for me and this guy were so far away from each other.

I’m going to continue performing femininity. I like the way it makes me feel. I like that people treat me better when I put on the costume. But just like the heels and the yoga pants, I’m not going to bother myself with it when it’s not worth it anymore. The next time I hop on a jet plane, I’m not going to perform anything. I’m just going to be me.

Because with or without makeup and stilettos, I’m plenty enough. Despite the economic realities our society places on us when we don’t conform, you are enough, too. I see you, and your value as a human being doesn’t go up just because you put on a costume.