I bumped into an article this week. It was an interview with Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia Pope in Scandal. She says attending an all girls’ school helped her shift her focus from looks. She feels the lack of boys helped her pursue other aspects of her personality. I’ve heard the comment before, but I’m not sure I agree.
I attended an all-girl high school, and my experience was the exact opposite. I feel that we became a lot more competitive. We were all smart girls, so looks became the only way we could one-up each other, especially as it was a catholic school, so no make-up, no jewellery, no fancy hairstyles, no flattering uniforms … in fact, the only way to wear anything remotely sexy or feminine was to join the hockey team, and the hockey team had the biggest tomboys in school!
Olivia Pope is one of the sexiest women on TV right now, so it was interesting to hear her talk about teenage insecurities. Growing up, she felt ‘what was on the oustide can’t really compete with other people.’ She focussed on being the smart girl because she felt she wasn’t the pretty girl.
I get that. I always knew I was smart, and for the longest time, I felt I wasn’t pretty so I put all my energy into the one thing I was good at – my mind. As I’ve gotten older (and spent a year in therapy), I’ve started to feel pretty. Ironically, I’ve also bumped into boys from childhood who said they always thought I was pretty, but I was so smart (and quick-tempered) that they were sure I’d hurt them if they hit on me…
The space I’m in now is the space Olivia Pope is in. I don’t mean the space of sleeping with green-eyed spies and white presidents. I mean the space of knowing that I’m smart and beautiful. It doesn’t really solve life’s problems – like feeling ugly during shark week, or finding a guy that likes my peculiar package, but it’s definitely an awesome feeling, and a lovely space to be in. I’m raising my daughter to revel in that space, because every little (and not-so-little) girl deserves to feel this confident.
♫ You set me free ♫ Michelle Bramch ♫