In blogging terms, I’m a new kid on the block but so far I’ve found the female blogging community to be a supportive, warm and cosy fold.
A bit like school though, the beauty bloggers pool together, the fitness bloggers huddle up, travel and foodie bloggers each have their cliques, but the biggest network of women, by far, are the mummy bloggers. It goes some way to explain the success of websites like Digital Mums and Mumsnet. These multi-platformed initiatives are valuable resources for women often out of their comfort zones, sometimes lonely, or when confidence is low. Not always, many just enjoy being around other women either transitioning between career girl and full-time mum or juggling both hats. These forums offer a safe (well, most of the time) environment to throw around ideas, get moral support, ask advice and have a laugh. But it made me think. ALL women have these needs but we aren’t ALL mothers or ONLY mothers. That being the case, where do we turn for an online support system that doesn’t require us to have pulled a child from our vagina (or sunroof) to earn the right to be there?
Finding such neutral territory tricky to come by, I decided to take my blog (which, you might recall, started as a means of motivating myself) and turn it into a platform that would inspire all kinds of smart, busy women to get the best out of their own lives. It would be an intelligent, upbeat arena for discussing everything from getting a mortgage to whether the latest John Lewis Christmas ad was up to scratch. Somewhere where we could proudly talk of our achievements and remind ourselves of our worth by offering our expertise to others in need of it. At the same time it would be a place for socialising, having a moan, keeping up to date with current affairs and getting feedback on any ideas we might be developing – because we all need emotional and professional encouragement from time to time.
And I’ve just launched it.
If you head over to Facebook, you’ll find my shiny new page She Can & She Does where I’ll be funneling through stories and news that embody the sentiment. Running alongside that, there will be a moderated group where, woman to women, you can ask questions, get recommendations, a second opinion or highlight something significant. I don’t want it to be a platform to sell, but you can certainly talk about your business or projects in the right context.
Like I say, originally I started This Girl Can And Does because I’d lost my way – and my confidence. I’d forgotten how much I’d achieved and allowed the odd blip to overshadow all the great stuff I’d done. Well, it’s terribly British, isn’t it, not to bang on about an industry award you might have won at the beginning of your career, or casually mention you once went to Downing Street to lobby the then PM about issues affecting young adult women. But because I NEVER shout about this stuff (having always had a touch of the imposter syndrome about me) I sometimes forget I even did it.
But it turned out I wasn’t the only one to downplay her accomplishments or lose footing after the odd wobble; and the positive feedback I got from other women who could relate spurred me on to drive this project forward.
It also made me realise that, although I’m a Weeble and that wobbling is part of my makeup, I don’t fall down. And I don’t want anyone else to either. The secret is being active, productive and seeing what it’s possible to achieve through TRYING. Then practice, practice, practice because achieving feels good. It might be something of a cliché but we are more capable than we realise and stronger than we think. And much like our big moments of glory that we aren’t anywhere near jazz-handed enough about talking about, we tend forget this. BUT NOT ANY MORE. Via She Can And She Does and a network of strong, empowering women who all have each others backs, we are going to keep remembering.
On and offline I am surrounded by magnificent women who lift and inspire me daily: the old desk buddy who’s now a best-selling author. The friend who went from intern to running the whole damn agency. The doctor who has three kids under five and is just about to qualify as a consultant. Jeez. Just writing about them gives me goosebumps. What about my old [not old old] dance teacher who grew her now decorated school from a working men’s club? The one who went global with her kids’ anklet business? The one who made her blog her job, and the other earning a crust exploring places like the Arctic Circle. Frankly there are too many to squeeze in here and I bet half don’t even realise their significance to me. What’s interesting is, when I recently asked a bunch of friends who their famous role models were, the blokes listed sports stars, musicians and adventurers in a heartbeat while the girls needed longer to think. Half of them even then ignored the brief and told me about family members who, instead, occupied their plinths. So, given that we have to stretch harder to connect with female role models in the public eye, and that we put so much value on the ones closer to home, it only enforced my belief that She Can & She Does was necessary.
So please come with me, ‘like’ my page, join the group – the crusade even – and reassure me I haven’t got this totally wrong – that there is a demand for this kind of network. And tell me what you want from it. I’d be grateful of ANY feedback. Let’s build it up big.