“Who run the world? Girls.”
Hi, I’m Farrah, and I’m consistently guilty of using “woman in a meeting” language in both the workplace and my personal life. I suffer from the chronic need to please people.
At it’s core, “woman in a meeting” language is intentionally using overenthusiastic sentences and softer words in order to prevent coming off as abrasive. Many women (including myself) constantly apologize, use exclamation points, or preface points they’d like to make with “I think,” or “I just.”
After reading this and recognizing that many strong women throughout history were unapologetically themselves without fear of being called “abrasive” or a “bitch,” I decided I would spend a week trying to eliminate this type of language from the way I speak.
When I started looking for my overuse of soft language… sadly, it wasn’t too hard to find:
For five days, I followed these rules, which eliminated common phrases from my “soft language” vocabulary.
There were tons of challenges that came up during this entire process. My main concern was coming off as a jerk. In some instances, it took me A LOT longer to compose a very direct email than it would have if I was using my bubbly! excited! tone!. And I overanalyzed EVERYTHING.
Scenario 1: Replying to a co-worker in NYC about a project.
I haven’t been to BuzzFeed’s NYC office, so I don’t know any of the staff except those I’ve interacted with over email and Slack — the instant messaging system we use. I was nervous about coming off cold in my email, which is why it took me maybe ten minutes to write on top of reading over it dozens of times. I cringed when I sent it. I didn’t want him to think I wasn’t excited about the post anymore.
Despite my worrying, Lincoln really didn’t seem phased by my lack of enthusiastic exclamations. Also, I realized that although I wanted to add in an apology, it wasn’t needed. Why was I apologizing on behalf of my draft? That’s what drafts are FOR.
But the tone in his response showed the same enthusiasm for our project, which meant I was stressing over this one email for NOTHING.
Scenario 2: My boss let me know we were getting lunch today.
My response was a faster-than-normal reply for me, especially since the rules cut off the time I would spend looking for an emoji to send. I saved some time by not worrying about making myself seem happy and upbeat.
BUT her response made me overanalyze my lack of enthusiasm. I always want to come off as a positive team player, and forgoing my excessive use of exclamation marks made my tone seem sarcastic and ungrateful. Was she mad? Did she think I was being ungrateful? Did she think I was being rude or sarcastic? OR A JERK?
She didn’t seem to think so, because the rest of the day carried on as normal. Looking back, it’s a funny how anxious I became over — literally — one exclamation mark.
Scenario 3: Receiving feedback from my editors about a post I was working on.
The way I acknowledge feedback has always been super important to me. In the past, I’ve made sure to be EXTREMELY enthusiastic, using tons! of! exclamation! marks! to prove that I’m not aggressively put off by any changes. I never want my editor to think, is she mad because I’m giving her this feedback? Does she even care?
There were some instances throughout these 5 days where it took me about ten minutes to gather the courage to send people messages.
When I look back at what I wanted to say — and have said on numerous occasions as replies to edits — I’m kind of annoyed with myself. Why do I need to use that many exclamation marks? And smiley faces? Tone is really important when communicating through instant messaging, but what I wanted to say feels like overdoing it. Which means I HAVE overdone it before.
Scenario 4: Asking a co-worker to collab for the first time.
I haven’t collabed with Crystal on a project before, and I DEFINITELY would have added “if you’re not too busy!” to the end of this message on a normal day. But that would have meant I was providing her with an excuse, and my goal was to be more assertive.
It took her a while to reply, which made me think: omg she definitely thinks I’m not excited for this. I should have given her an excuse in case she wanted to let me down easy! But her reply was genuinely enthusiastic. Even if she had been too busy, I shouldn’t have felt the need to provide an excuse.
Scenario 5: Replying to a co-worker’s question.
My conscious attempt to NOT use the exclamation marks made me realize (again) how much I use them on an everyday basis. But I felt like my use of exclamations would have expressed a tone that resembled: oh don’t worry about it, it’s no trouble to get this quick link for you.
Nina was only looking for a link, but I was the one worrying how my tone was coming across through our exchange. In the end, I realized that responding in a direct manner to a forthright question did not automatically make me a jerk.
Scenario 6: Collaborating on a project with my co-workers.
At first I was very self-conscious of not being able to express my enthusiasm in this Slack brainstorm with my co-workers, but it actually ended up getting easier and easier. This interaction happened on the fourth day, and I discovered I was gaining more confidence being assertive.
Forgoing phrases like “I feel like” and “maybe” during brainstorms like this one was a challenge. I wasn’t sure why I needed to soften my tone when I was interjecting an idea. It was a wake up call that made me realize I REALLY needed to cut back on that type of language.
- There are times when being direct comes in handy, and it’s possible for me to be direct without sounding like a jerk.
- Not EVERY reply needs to have an exclamation mark, because that’s annoying, but I like having my voice.
- Look, I like using emojis. Sometimes when words fail, emojis speak. There are some instances were it’s better to forgo them, but I’m not going to completely stop using them.
- I don’t have to be afraid of being assertive about my opinions, especially during edits. Softening my feedback with “maybe” and “I feel like” and “I’m wondering” can come across as if I’m unsure of myself, and I’m not!
- Looking back, all my unnecessary hahas and lols were pretty irritating. I’m going to try and stop that habit. Because, really, nothing is that funny all the time.
- This experiment actually showed me that, overall, I saved a lot of time typing direct responses — time that I probably would have normally spent of second-guessing my ~soft~ sentences and searching for emojis.
- I WILL stop unnecessarily apologizing for things I don’t need to apologize for.
I wish I could say I’m now an assertive badass after my 5-day experiment, but I’m not. I like having my own voice, and when I’m excited about something I want to be able to express that. But this experiment did teach me that I don’t have to be afraid of coming across as rude when, in reality, I’m being direct.
It’s hard to define what “dating” is, because it means something different to almost every person. Here, I’ll be talking about it in the sense of being in a romantic relationship—whether that’s as someone’s girlfriend, boyfriend, main hang, et cetera. (And if you aren’t in a relationship like that now, or don’t ever want to be, that’s totally OK.)
A question you may have asked yourself, whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, is: How am I supposed to BE when I’m dating someone?
For years, I didn’t think about this at all. I based my idea of “being a girlfriend,” which was my particular role in relationships, on what I gleaned from movies and TV. And sadly, many of the characters I saw were relegated to hanging on to someone’s every word and existing only to make the other person’s life better. I didn’t realize that the laziness of screenwriters shouldn’t translate to my own romantic life.
Romantic relationships are different than most relationships in that they’re a little like all relationships, all at once. There are aspects of friendship, because you’re hanging out with a person you like, and who shares at least some of your interests. It’s also like having a crush, in that you often want to cram as much of a person, physically and/or emotionally, into yourself as possible. Then there’s a weird hurt that can come with being in a romantic relationship, because you have to make yourself vulnerable to another person, which means they have access to the tenderest parts of who you are. So how do you juggle all that?
The first, most important step is to be an advocate for yourself. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you stop caring for your own needs, and only care for the other person’s. You are in charge of taking care of you, physically and emotionally—the other person should not have that job. Don’t push yourself further, or be pushed further, than you want to go. Give your body what it needs to feel healthy.
Make regular, quality time for friends you can rely on for fun and venting and hugs. This is really important. Your romantic partner should be an addition to your life, not the centerpiece, and you shouldn’t be the centerpiece of their life, either. You are the centerpiece of your own life. You don’t want to put all your emotional eggs in one basket, no matter how romantic it seems.
New couples often get into a nesting phase, when they’re very happy to ignore the rest of the world. After a short grace period—maybe two, three weeks tops—make sure your relationship can be incorporated into your life, and not the other way around. If someone wants to break things off because you want to hang out with your friends, they weren’t worth being with in the first place.
When you’re taking care of yourself in all these ways, you can really get to know another person, and let them get to know you. That means considering the other person’s needs and wants (but doesn’t mean you always put them first). It means listening and asking questions. It means taking note of things they like, and trying to do those things. It means compromising sometimes. It means revealing information about yourself, in a way that deepens your bond and makes you feel safe. It means letting the other person earn your trust, rather than giving it away or keeping it for yourself.
You also have to remember that the person you’re snugged up with is not perfect. Not out to trick you. Not your future spouse (sure, maybe, but most likely not). They’re someone who makes mistakes and smells bad sometimes and has feelings and says sweet things to you. Being with them doesn’t make them always right or always wrong—you are just two people navigating holding each other’s hands and hearts.
Being close to someone in this way also means having physical and emotional boundaries, and allowing those boundaries to gently evolve. Not to be pushed, not to be broken in the name of love, but to evolve. Allow yourself to test your own boundaries and see what feels comfortable and fun for you. Sex doesn’t make a relationship romantic, and romance doesn’t have to involve sex. Saying, “I love you,” doesn’t have to be a part of the equation, either. You can care about someone very much and never have things go to lovetown. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful or fulfilling.
You and your partner may have in-jokes, talk to each other in an embarrassing secret language, or have silly nicknames for each other. It’s totally OK for that stuff to stay within the boundaries of your relationship. Your friends don’t have to know about it, and that doesn’t make you any less true to yourself. At the same time, you and your pals may share those exact same things, and without those things ever entering your dating sphere. Learning how to be yourself, with some thought-out boundaries, and within different relationships, is part of the process of becoming you. ♦
A girl poses confidently, hands on hips. She wears a delicate flower in her hair, and stands in the photo’s background, but there’s something commanding about her presence. For her age, she looks stern and self-assured — where she lives, being a girl doesn’t seem to be a strike against her confidence.
The photo was taken in Badjao, Malaysia, one of four Southeast Asian societies cataloged by photographer Pierre de Vallombreuse, in a project aimed at representing societies where gender equality is already on its way to fruition — or, at least, farther along than in the West.
In particular, he captures images of the Khasi society, a matrilineal and matrilocal culture in the northeastern part of India, in which children primarily bear the name of their mother and inheritance is bestowed upon the daughters in a family; the Palawan society, a non-hierarchical community in the Philippines where men and women have been historically equal; the Mosuo society in southwestern China, which involves a variety of matriarchies and avuncular hierarchies; and the egalitarian and libertarian groups in Badjao.
De Vallombreuse has been taking photos of these indigenous societies for nearly 30 years. His work has an anthropological bent, as he was once the General Secretary of the Association of Anthropology and Photography at Paris Diderot University. So, his beautiful photos are more than just seeming portrayals of gender equality; he’s spent time observing each culture’s respective traditions, too.
According to the photographer, what he’s learned throughout his work is promising for the future of Western society — and those societies influenced by globalization today. In a press release about his latest book and exhibit, Arthaud Publishing wrote, “Indeed, in some of these cultures, the trends seem to be reversed: women occupy a central place in the social and spiritual foundations, preserving or advocating equality between the sexes, with total mutual respect. There are models for society where the position of the women is not a battle.”
Vallombreuse’s photos will be on view in an exhibition titled “Souveraines” (Sovereign) at Galerie Argentic in France from Oct. 13 through Nov. 21, 2015.
Meet Valerie Sagun, a 28-year-old yogi from San Jose, California.
Sagun has been practicing hatha yoga for the past four years. Hatha is a set of physical exercises, known as asanas, that are designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones.
Sagun started her Instagram Big Gal Yoga a year and a half ago.
“At first, I only did Tumblr,” Sagun tells BuzzFeed Life. “But when I got to 10,000 followers and people asked me to join Instagram, I decided to go for it.”
And her photos are fly AF.
Crow pose? More like queen pose.
To start, her yoga wardrobe is TO DIE FOR.
“It can be hard for bigger women to find good leggings,” she says. But, let’s face it, she looks flawless. Sagun swears by her favorite brands Rainbeau Curves and Fractal 9 for comfy, colorful athletic wear.
And her confidence is contagious.
“I’ve never really felt self-conscious about my body during yoga classes,” Sagun says. “For me, yoga is all about the mind and positive thinking. I get anxiety and depression, and practicing has helped me through that.”
She’s always down to try new things.
Like using a yoga wheel. “It helps to open your back a lot more during stretches,” Sagun says.
And pushing herself is the only way she knows how.
“Acro yoga was one thing, especially as a bigger-bodied person, that I was scared and doubtful to try,” Sagun writes on her Instagram. “But it was so fun to practice.”
Sagun loves yoga so much that she’s currently trying to become a teacher.
She started a GoFundMe to help raise money for tuition at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona.
“By being a curvy woman of color, I get to show a lot of underrepresented people that they are capable of anything,” she says.
“We need more diversity so that, one day, diversity just becomes something normal that happens everywhere.”
“Everyone who is interested in yoga should feel comfortable practicing it,” she says.
Atlanta-based photographer James C. Lewis changes the narrative about Black men, one king at a time. Tired of biased representations from mainstream media, Lewis decided to take things into his own hands. With his studios Noire 3000, he released ‘African Kings’, a photo series celebrating African historical figures including pharaohs, Kings of the Songhai Empire, of the Kingdom of Ashanti and many more.
Check out some of the stunning images below.
If time travel were possible, poet Caira Lee would visit her 15-year-old self.
Lee would commend her on her courage and honesty. She would tell her to how remarkable she was, maybe even throwing a cheesy pick-up line or two to assure her that she knows her worth.
“Did you read Dr. Suess as a kid? Because green eggs and DAYUM,” she would tell her adolescent self in recognition.
Because Lee realized what so many of us fail to recognize as teens: the importance of radical self-love.
“When you do not act on your self-esteem, you aren’t loving yourself and when you aren’t loving yourself, you are failing at life,” she said in a recent TEDx Talk in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
The 21-year-old Baltimore-native stresses the importance of embracing your true self despite what negative things others have to say about body image, race or sexual orientation.
“It’s looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I am the most important person in the world to me. I accept that person. I admire that person and I will do everything in my power to see that person’s dreams come true,’” she says.
Reciting the words to the hook of Kendrick Lamar song “i” with the audience, in which the rapper declares “I love myself” several times, Lee explains that the outside forces of the world working against them are no match for their self-love.
But how exactly does one practice radical self-love and how do its practitioners gain from it?
Lee offers four points of practicing and reaping the benefits of radical self-love.
1. “Find that thing that you can do for hours and lose yourself in that.”
Lee urges her audience to find the skill that makes them feel “cool, productive, important, challenged.” Come alive, she says, because that’s what the world needs.
2. “If you’re black, know your history.”
There is no one way of living in this world despite society’s expectations of black people, according to Lee, and knowing your history will reveal that. She says that one’s “blackness is at the top of the list of things that the United States has that will continue to use and misconstrue in order to get you to dislike yourself.” Don’t let it.
3. “Police the people in your head.”
Many of the negative things we think about ourselves come from other people, she says, and most of it isn’t true. “We let it infest us,” she says. Lee polices the doubtful people in her head by writing positive affirmations like “you are good enough” and posts them on the walls of her dorm room.
4. “Give self-love to others.”
The fourth step is hard to do but IS the most important, Lee says. She urges audience members to stop other’s self-deprecation when they hear or witness it. “Dedication to radical self-love is not just about ourselves, it’s about not letting weakness in your circle at any time.”