Growing up, I was always told that I could be whatever I wanted to be. That women are equal to men and right now, I wish I would have been told that I was going to have to fight infinitely harder to be kind of equal to men. If you don't believe that's true, I invite you to spend a week with me here in New York City. We can shadow my female friends, mentors, and colleagues and you can see firsthand how difficult it is for a woman to not only receive equal pay but the discrimination, sexual assault, road blocks, and hardships women face on their way to the top. But I doubt that you need to come to NYC to see that, you can look around wherever it is that you live. We're all living the same reality.
I want to talk to the women who took to my social platforms and told me not to post my thoughts about what was happening in the Presidential election.
I was raised by a community of strong women who identified as both Republican and Democrat. I do not believe in an us versus them mentality. It's easy to think, "they're bad, we're good" and it's very difficult to ask questions and listen with an open mind to people who see the world differently than you. What we need to remember is that we are all playing on the same team whether we like it or not.
Run, Selfie, Repeat and my social media platforms are not solely about sports and selfies. Saying that to me demeans the movement and community I've worked tirelessly to cultivate. I'm devoted to helping people put their strongest foot forward both mentally and physically. Everything I do is rooted in hope, strength, authenticity, and giving people the motivation and inspiration they need to believe in themselves and pursue the strongest and happiest version of themselves. I share my story, openly and honestly with all of you, with the hope that anyone who is going through hardships or trauma can find community, a smile, or a laugh. When the rug gets pulled out from under you and you struggle to find a way to make it through the day, it's my hope that you know that you aren't alone. I don't have all the answers, I only have my story, my struggles, my jokes, and my unwavering support.
That being said, I will never shy away from giving a voice to the people and issues I think deserve amplification. I have influence and I refuse to bite my tongue for fear of losing followers or rocking the boat. Honestly, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't stand up for the things I believe in.
I would never ask you to not voice your opinions if they differ from mine. What I do ask is that you voice them with compassion or keep them to yourself until you can. Saying things like "Are you 20?" or "You do not represent my country" is disrespectful. Telling me what I can and cannot do on my own websites is disappointing. We cannot have a discussion if people don't feel safe or heard. When you tell me that I don't deserve a right to voice my thoughts because they differ from yours, you're telling me that your opinions and world views weren't constructed with an open mind.
I have spent three years of my life building a strong community and I would never write anything that I did not believe was relevant to everyone. I would never attack someone because they voted one way or another. I would never try to silence someone just because I didn't agree with them. It's like Michelle Obama said, when they go low, we go high.
The world is a very messy place and I can't shy away from the messier, uglier parts because I believe that my voice matters. I appreciate your support and your voices but I need you to respect mine.
I'm afraid to be a woman right now. That's just how I feel. If you don't feel that way, then I need your support and your help. We have to stick together. We have to understand that the world isn't black and white. We have to know that our experiences on the coasts or in the cities differ from those of the people on farms or in the suburbs. Neither is better or worse. No one is more deserving than another. Try not to point fingers or define people.
I know its hard, I'm struggling too. I'm only human.
We have so much work ahead of us but we have to stick together.
Thank you for listening and I apologize if I've ever offended you. It's never my intention. You have a voice. You always have a voice.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.