What is Smallwomanship?
In case perhaps you think that The Art of Smallwomanship is going to be some kind of ‘one-up-woman-ship’ – it is anything but. Not that I haven’t been tempted, because I have. It is incredibly easy to fall for that approach. We small women are, after all, so very hard done by because of our dreadful lack of height we “need” fiendish schemes. I mean it’s not quite as bad as outright bitchiness is it? Even when these are all fully justified wheneverybody is laughing at us all the time: “No we’re laughing with you darling, you’re soooo sweet”. Oh fuck off. (I promise I don’t use the F-word anywhere else but sometimes, just sometimes, it is the only response possible). Thing is small is with you for life- you can’t overcome it the way you can other “problem figures”. With a bit of will power you can deal with all the others: you can trim fat thighs with diet and exercise (OK a lot of diet and exercise may be needed, but still, it is within the realms of what is possible); you can dye dull mousey hair, cover the bitten down nails with acrylics, tan pale,blotchy skin and shove fillets in your bra – and this is all without plastic surgery. Indeed, the plainest ofgirls can, if she so desires,disappear off to ‘boot camp’, ‘Boobs-R-Us’ and Brenda’s Boutique and emerge weeks later massively poorer but completely ‘corrected’ and conforming to fashion. We little people, on the other hand, can do all that ten times over and still never meet the requirements. We may already be slim, toned with fabulous hair and nails but because we cannot change our height –the one MASSIVE thing that apparently really matters – none of our ‘assets’ really count. At four feet eleven and three quarter inches, high high heels get me to five foot one for the few steps I can manage before I keel over. Even if I hit 10 on bonce, boobs and bum, (which I don’t) I am still ‘diminutive’ or ‘’sweet’ at best. I will never be a Giselle. I will never even be a Kate or Aoki. This seriously gnaws away at the self-confidence, especially when you are in your teens. It’s easy to sink into a bitter outlook. Then comes the bad behaviour. Itis a viscous cycle, a less than merry merry-go-round. You feel bad, so you snipe which makes you feel bad so you snipe some more and on and on. One-up-womanship is very attractive in this state of mind but believe me it’s a downward spiral. It really is just sniping tarted up as some sort of acceptable and competitive strategy.
The Art of Smallwomanship is about letting go of all of this. Well, not all of it exactly; so before you yell at me for not being realistic, I’m not naive enough to try to tell any woman that she must give up worrying about what she looks like. Whilst I completely agree our “assets”should not be classed as boobs because this makes us merely sexual objects…blah blah OK, you know all this, I wont go on and on here ….but at the same time for most of us, what we look like counts. If we feel we look crap, we feel like crap. However, what I am saying is that your physique’s compliance with some yardstick is not and must not determine your life.
The real problem with one-upmanship is that getting one up on other people is too much focused on other people: what they think, how to get their attention, whenactually, we need you focused on you.
The Art of Smallwomanship is all about you, and actually it is you in isolation. It is all about recognising your extraordinary selfand then nurturing the bloody hell out of her. Oh yes, it’s going to be hard work so roll your sleeves up!
The truth is that the only thing keeping you from succeeding, from developing the extraordinary is YOU. It is YOU looking in that mirror, and it is YOUR opinion that counts – because it is the only one that controls your happiness. You can have lots of lovely people telling a sad person to cheer up, but only when that sad mind DECIDES to become happy, to see the possibility of a smile will that happen. If other people think you are daft or wrong or ugly, that can be disconcerting but only if you believe them and so make their opinion your opinion. But you cannot judge yourself by other peoples’ opinion – live this way and you are but a leaf on the wind, being tossed this way then that depending on the whim of others. What people say they think is not always what they think -for good and bad reasons. Good manners or plain old spite can mean someone tells you nice stuff but they don’t mean any of it so you cannot rely on what people say as your yardstick. Even if you can, why make your opinion the second opinion. Fundamentally if you do not have a solid and grounded view of yourself and your potential, your opinion will be always be useless. Now as a lawyer handling a tough case, you may seek second opinion, but it is the first that really sets the score: first impressions count. It starts with you. You are your rock.
Think about our pee pal: she may not be there to actively help you, but nor is she really the problem. See, if you could handle what you see in your reflection in the mirror, you wouldn’t give a jot about who or what was stood next to you. You make you fabulous; you make you special, you make you interesting – there is no other way. You have to look to yourself.
The extraordinary YOU is what elevates you above the height nonsense. And remember, this is no race and there are no competitors. You are not rising versus anyone else. It is your achievement for you to enjoy and you do it for yourself.
The Art of Smallwomanship is the quest for is a state of mind: a way of being – an inner confidence that comes from (finally) realizing and acknowledging that you are an extraordinary woman.
OK so what is extraordinary? Firstly it is not at all about being superwoman: not in the comic book sense nor in the silly modern sense. The Art of Smallwomanship will ask you to take a leap here and there, but it does not impart super powers – please don’t try to fly off a cliff edge or you will die. You will not going to metamorphosize into a “supermodel-businesswomen-triathlete-wife-and-full-time mother of five” with your picture in Grazia doing Virabhadrāsana whilst simultaneously whipping up authentic Inuit Bannock snacks for a sycophantic journalist. For a start, neither of these ladies exists beyond the pages of comics and women’s magazines – both are a work of pure fiction. The idea that one woman can do all of those things all by herself is just perfect nonsense. Quite frankly scaling skyscrapers, flying about in your bra and a pair of tights whilst bringing on the odd jolt of lightening is probably more believable. More importantly, I don’t want you aspiring to be a superwoman or in fact any other ‘model’ or ‘approved’ woman – heck I am trying to prize you out of a pigeonhole here! I do not want you falling into another with some preset lifestyle goal. This doesn’t give you chance to find your own life dream. Life is not about fulfilling someone else’s agenda. If you are merely tick-boxing somebody else’s criteria: career –tick, husband – tick, baby – tick….what are you putting into the equation? Nothing. That isn’t even merely ordinary – it is pure drudgery just wrapped up in social acceptance so you don’t feel it slowly killing your soul. Cripes, write that on my tombstone “I lived Grazia Editor’s life”, “I lived the agreed, standard and approved life”. Look, if being a oil baron, or super model or mother or Olympian or all of the above are what do it for you, wonderful. Go for it. But just don’t do it because some vacuous hack has put it out there as the life ‘to die for’. Because if that is the only reason for doing it, you will die for it all right – you will die inside. The point here is to have your life. Exercising your choice in life is mostly about believing you have a choice.
Wakey Wakey sleeping beauty. It is time to find your journey, your passion, your dream.
Where is the extraordinary you andyourextraordinary adventure? It is your choice, remember.
Extraordinary has nothing to do withperfect or better or even the best. There is no perfect life, no perfect woman, no better and no best or either. The point of being here is not to be perfect. How can it be? We are all so, so different how could there be a perfect. If we actually allow ourselves to be ourselves such that a one size fits all idea of the perfect woman is actually bonkers. I have, at this stage in my life, met thousands of people, you may well have met more. Have you ever met another you? I certainly have never yet met another me–OK one or two people have come close but as soon as you talk you see the differences. Without exception, even with the close hits, every single person had something I did not and in each case I had something they lacked and thank heaven. Once you realise this wondrous thing, you stop seeing yourself in terms of general categories (leave that for others – those idiots who write those silly surveys in magazine to see if you are of the ‘type’ to worry about your weight or cheat on your lover). Instead explore your own nuances, ask your own interesting questions of yourself.
Only women who know that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist in the sense there is one single perfect can be truly successful. These are the women who seem to ‘deal’ with those so-called ‘flaws’ so that either nobody notices them or they do but they don’t care. How does this happen?
The smart girl doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ‘perfect’, she just hits you with extraordinary – and all you see is that.
She doesn’t ‘deal’ with ‘flaws’ because she doesn’t acknowledge them in the first place. By not subscribing to the ‘perfect’ life she sees herself honestly and not as a list of positives and negatives. Instead she is just bursting at the seams with herself. Try rattling the cage of someone who doesn’t care about any ‘flaw’ – she just smiles softly at you with no retaliation, no anger. I tell you, tap into that and you are in business.
The wonderfully liberating thing about learning how to draw on your own inner confidence learning to live life from the inside out, is that you loose the need to size yourself up against others. You can then loose the fear of the Amazonion goddess because you can accept that each day you will, of course, be surrounded by other equally extraordinary women and that is fine. It takes nothing away from you. You know that lots of shining stars make for a beautiful sky and that each one is just as special as the next. Size has no meaning: whilst all stars are (to our eyes) utterly dwarfed by the massive moon, each little star twinkles the same nonetheless, knowing it is no less wonderful for its smaller size or the wonderful company it keeps. The moon smiles back. It is a spectacular scene. This, dear Reader, is The Art of Smallwomanship.
Once you arrive at this state of mind, you will have no need to seek the limelight because the limelight will find you. You stand out from the crowd just by being you, by exuding ‘you-ness’. It is not about jumping up and down to get peoples attention, or wearing the ‘right’ brand of clothing or driving the right car, or being with the clique you are associated with. It is about the raw you – what’s there behind the make up or war paint or the pin stripe suit. You are the wonderful dichotomy of a shining star at dizzy heights….but with your feet are firmly planted on terra firma.
The Art of Smallwomanship is actually about developing female leadership: being at one with your extraordinary self tends to result in others wanting to follow you. This puts you in a powerful leadership position. Leadership is then not by assuming superiority or ordering people around or by bullying and belittling people into doing what you say. There is no need to try to be a corporate ‘queen bee’, top of the intellectual ivory tower or head of your little tribe of girlie friends. Our heroine leads because other gals follow her light – she shines with authentic irresistibility and it feels good to follow her. But the followers are not lackeys and sycophants – they should want to be as individual as you because that’s what you teach. It should be beneficial to be around you, and your behaviour actually brushes off on those who are open to learn. One-up-womanship will never give you this joy.
You talk to the tall girl in the office about how she is dieting and getting fit and say “Oh you don’t need to do any of that, your naturally pretty and slim but if fitness is your thang honey, go for it” and you smile genuinely wishing her well. You take her suspicious smile and absorb it, watching it dissipate as you keep wishing her well, wishing she would trust and simply accept that you do wish her well. She gives an inch and looks at you, believing for brief second that you do you mean well. You smile back. She is hard wired so the scowl returns as she walks off. Well done. She will learn as long as you continue to lead. Eventually, they follow.
The Art of Smallwomanship is about recognising the extraordinary in you and then looking for it in others – not to copy, but simply to enjoy each other’s company. It’s a final step, when you come full circle. You finally look at other people without self-adjustment of your own authenticity. You look at your pee pals as you would, reading National Geographic – ‘how interesting’. You ask, without a whisper of self-doubt, if the skinny model knows where the loo is, and she says, “I’m going, I’ll come with you” and you reply warmly “Oh lovely, thanks – I hate wandering looking for the ladies…trying to work out if that funny little character is wearing a skirt or trousers!”
Now, I realise that this may all be a tad heavy and/or unbelievable but think of it this way – at least I haven’t asked you to get naked, sit on a mirror and say “hello” to your vagina in order to “accept your true self”. (California in the eighties – amazing but not for everyone.) What I am trying to get across is the feeling to which you are aspiring – after all you need to know where you are headed. In the next chapters of the book I will give you the tools to build that feeling. And you are going to have some fun, I promise.
As for the introvert reader, I also realise that you might be thinking, “Eeeek! I can’t become confident just by some woman that I don’t know telling me to!!” or worrying about what I am going to ask you to do with “tools”. Well, don’t worry. I realise nobody can become confident to order I don’t bother ordering anyone to be confident, and my tools will ask nothing of you that you are not ready to do. However, at the same time this is not a book that serves up confidence on a platter. You are the person who will develop your own confidence so you are going to have to do the work. Yes, work. I am setting you on a quest of sorts, but generally, whilst “quest” is a nice word, it basically boils down to bloody hard work with the odd instance of excitement and/or fear and/or jubilation over an extended period of time. All I ask is that you work through your quest to your own maximum. Do not slouch and give up on life, but do not push yourself too hard either – do not put yourself into high confidence demanding situations too soon. Expect to take some time about this; hard-wired habits do take time and effort to change. The tools have been designed to instil the right thinking over time, and also help you use various situations as triggers to kick-start that confidence you have buried deep inside of you.
My tools are fairly anecdotal because most were learned the hard way – with pain and not a small amount of embarrassment on occasion – some are quite funny now, when I look back. I thought you would find it more enjoyable to read them this way and possibly they might be easier to understand.
Your next job is to open the toolbox and begin your work: absorb the philosophy, employ the strategies, avoid the perils chant the mantra, and obey as many of the rules that you can. This will help you on your journey so your confidence can be attained naturally and progressively. The song at the end is an optional bit of fun. At the beginning, try to be realistic as emergent feelings of self-celebration will be fairly transient and your confidence highly vulnerable to the vagaries of your mood. It will be easily bashed away by a cutting comment about your height or an impromptu mirror maelstrom when you are looking your worst – it does happen. Have patience with yourself in the beginning. Practice, practice, practice and reliability will come.
Time to take a leap of faith. Turn the page and turn the tide…. here