Women’s For­mula:

The Monique Kennedy Story

Jamaica Gleaner - - FLAIR - Kim­berly Goodall Life­style Writer kim­berly.goodall@glean­erjm.com

WE LIVE in a time in which there are sev­eral on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions about women em­pow­er­ment; and this is im­por­tant. Flair re­cently sat down with cu­ra­tor of ‘The Thriv­ing Artist’ – Monique Kennedy – to talk about the pos­si­ble ex­is­tence of a ‘for­mula’ that can cre­ate more con­fi­dent, in­spir­ing women.

Kennedy can be con­sid­ered an ex­pert in the area of women em­pow­er­ment as she has had her share of ups and downs, and has found an­swers in love and ac­cep­tance. She has cre­ated a pod­cast, blogs, group con­ver­sa­tions and a com­mu­nity that all aim to bet­ter the na­tion and the peo­ple in it.

Ac­cord­ing to Kennedy, em­pow­er­ing women truly means em­pow­er­ing a na­tion. “When girls feel an abun­dance in the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to them and they have a voice, they will be­gin to push the lim­its of their abil­i­ties and stop see­ing their only value as where they stand in re­la­tion to a man. These girls grow up to be women, who then (if they choose) be­come moth­ers, who raise both em­pow­ered boys and girls, and the cy­cle con­tin­ues,” she said.

OWN­ING YOUR FEM­I­NIN­ITY

She said she be­lieves that fe­male em­pow­er­ment cel­e­brates the unique­ness of each woman and teaches women that strength is not found in try­ing to be like men, but in stand­ing and own­ing fem­i­nin­ity.

“I’m not sure there is a clear for­mula for any­thing in life. There are too many vari­ables. I think self­ac­cep­tance is rooted in know­ing that you are enough. Many women, in­clud­ing my­self, strug­gle with col­lect­ing ac­co­lades in hopes that it will make us feel wor­thy, wor­thy to have a voice, to be taken se­ri­ously, to own our truth. But when you start re­al­is­ing that you are enough, even if you didn’t get that pro­mo­tion or the per­son you love de­cided to move on, there’s a shift. I am ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it now, where I feel more res­o­lute in my choices, even if it doesn’t suit ev­ery­one,” Kennedy told Flair.

“I re­alised that many women just like me had been shoved into a box of what it meant to be a woman. The de­sir­able traits of who we should be was placed in the con­text of the men we hoped to ‘catch’. Men like women who do this or that and un­con­sciously we start try­ing to fit into what I like to call the ‘girl box’. We for­get that we are mul­ti­di­men­sional and beau­ti­ful. The Gen­er­a­tion G – Em­pow­er­ment Camp for Girls, was born out of this be­cause I knew if there was a change to be made, it needed to start in the early years. Young girls and boys re­ceive so many mes­sages of who they should be be­fore they even get to de­ter­mine who they are.”

Grow­ing up, Kennedy was not liked by many, and be­ing very imag­i­na­tive, she cre­ated imag­i­nary friends to help her cope with what she thought at the time were ma­jor life prob­lems. She never seemed to look at the world like ev­ery­one else. She said she was the epit­ome of the care­free black girl.

She strug­gled with her ap­pear­ance. Be­fore she got braces, her ‘buff’ teeth were the source of play­ground teas­ing. By high school it was acne, and be­fore she knew it, the size of her breasts was an is­sue. This not only made her a tar­get for girls who felt in­se­cure, but for boys who felt they were en­ti­tled to ‘cop a feel’ when she walked down the hall­way. Kennedy said that her body brought more at­ten­tion than she wanted, and the shame she felt over her body is some­thing she still works on man­ag­ing to­day.

“My strength lies in some­thing that peo­ple don’t talk about of­ten, but it’s my will­ing­ness to be vul­ner­a­ble. I think it makes me a bet­ter friend and a bet­ter part­ner, be­cause I al­low my­self to be open with even the parts I’m not too OK with.”

SELF-LOVE

She con­tin­ued: “These past few months of my life, self-love has meant that I had to re­lease a lot of things that didn’t serve me. Af­ter an­other ma­jor life event this year, I started to re-eval­u­ate what self­love meant to me, and right now it means spend­ing more time heal­ing my mind, body and spirit. I’m go­ing a lot slower with many things and eval­u­at­ing the value it brings into my life. I’ve al­ways been a strong be­liever that when you take good care of your­self first, you can take bet­ter care of oth­ers later. I think it comes down to the mantra I have for my life, ‘Live a life that in­spires oth­ers’. I don’t know where I’m go­ing yet, but I know it will be an in­spir­ing jour­ney,” Kennedy said.

Read more of Monique’s story on her blog, and find out how she nav­i­gated to the best ver­sion of her­self. Thriv­ing artist: https://medium.com/ the-thriv­ing-artist In­sta­gram: https://www.in­sta­gram.com/ thrvn­gartist/

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

The mul­ti­di­men­sional beauty that is Monique Kennedy.

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