Early on, I was aware of the strength I held as a woman; I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but I always felt I could achieve anything my heart desired. Women also ruled my world, and they still do. I’ve never regarded my gender as weak or lesser-than, and this wasn’t because I was sheltered from the stereotypes and comments that chase women throughout their entire lives. I just made the decision at a young age to stand up for myself when I faced any setbacks imposed upon me because of my sex.
I had the immense privilege of being parented by two individuals who, while strict, always encouraged me to be true to myself and to tap into my female strength. They never told me to lower my voice when I was speaking my mind because it wasn’t ladylike, to wear a dress because that’s what girls did, or to take up dance because it would be great for my figure. And in retrospect, they were in many ways ahead of their time in the way they built my confidence as a woman.
As someone who is told far too often that they’re intimidating or too strong, I regard it less of an insult and more of a badge of honour. It’s that tenacious fierceness that makes women great leaders, creators, mentors, and collaborators. If anyone finds you too strong or too opinionated to be around, then they were never meant to be a part of your tribe.
This question has come up quite often in the past year: how should we empower women? My advice is not to treat female empowerment as if it were some new phenomenon, but rather to continue the conversation without forgetting that it has always existed. We haven’t only now discovered that we can stand up for ourselves; we’ve been doing it forever, behind closed doors, away from social media and clickbait headlines.
Throughout the pages of our latest summer issue, you’ll find examples of unapologetic, resilient women who have overcome career and personal setbacks, and in turn come out on top and made big strides in the fields of fashion, beauty, art, and film. The road to independence and empowerment is something that we all have within us—
no matter when we arrive at it.
Photographed by Justin Aranha.
Hair and makeup by Tami El Sombati (Plutino Group).