The other day I had the opportunity to speak with teens at an event for Women’s History Month and I jokingly said that there are plenty of women who profess to be about women empowerment but who really may not be. I joked, but I meant every bit of what I said and here is why.On my journey of learning to overcome my challenges to inspire and motivate women and girls to live in purpose and define their legacy, I have met countless beautiful, empowered, smart and successful women. Nevertheless, I have also met women who have professed to the tee that they were all for women empowerment and later I would disappointingly find out that it was a facade. What would concern me the most is that some of these women were prominent leaders in this industry of women empowerment. I come from a world of the music business where I was used to swimming with sharks but once again I was surprised at how women had become so great at portraying to be one thing and in actuality being another; especially in this world of empowerment.

I noticed a common trend and that’s actually part of what fueled me to produce “The UnMasked Effect” because I noticed that there were women who made “truth” a part of their appearance and not necessarily a part of their lifestyle.

I am going to be brutally honest here. We have A LOT further to go in really empowering one another as women. We have to stop calling each other all these mean and hateful names, we have to stop competing with one another, we have to stop selling ourselves short to have a perceived level of success and we have to stop pretending that we are about the solidarity of women when deep inside there is jealousy, envy and selfish ambition. We say that we’re really looking to empower each other but in actuality plenty of times we may be looking to get ahead or be a part of a “cool” movement.

The degradation of women starts at such an early age. Boys are praised for having a girlfriend, while little girls easily get the labels “easy” and “fast.”  We have to show our girls from young that they are more than the clothes they wear or the cars they drive at 16. When our girls get into a scuffle with another girl at school, one of the first reasons to blame is jealousy which in turn develops this notion that “girls are jealous and I’m better than her so that’s why she doesn’t like me.” This ends up being the mentality that we grow with. I know we have to teach our girls how to look out after themselves but is it really helping long-term success?

We have to show our girls that they are more than the boys that like them. Say what you may boys and men play a vital role on our self-esteem if we allow our worth to be defined in how others view us.

We have to stop implementing our own fears and insecurities on our girls because they pay more attention to what we do rather than what we say. We have to know that we are enough just as we are. You ARE enough. It doesn’t matter what education you have, where you work, what shoes you have on, how much money you have, how many followers you have on social media…you my dear are ENOUGH.

If more of us realized that, then we we would really start to be able to empower ourselves and each other as women.

Ratings for reality TV where women are constantly beating on each other’s self-images are through the roof but positive images fail to even make the cut. I go to conference after conference, event after event and we talk all the time about how men differ from women but when is someone going to say what about what women do to each other? It’s an ugly truth that we have to deal with and we have to start doing something about it.

Women empowerment  is more than an award show, a luncheon or a social network. Women empowerment is a lifestyle, it says no to the cattiness, jealousy, competition and low self-esteem. It says hello to encouragement, love, beauty, community, support, authenticity, transparency, and wholeness.

I’m in no way beating us up as women, I’m saying enough is enough already. It’s time we authentically do better and embrace each other’s legacy.  

Maria I. Melendez