I recently found myself in an amazing and unusual situation.
I've fallen in love and moved in with my boyfriend... and the 17-year-old sister he is raising. As an only child, sharing a space with a teenage girl is unusual for me.
Being around her has been both incredibly entertaining as well as totally nerve-racking. She is smart, mature for her age and full of life. I see a lot of myself in her.
As we have started to bond, I can feel our lives begin to mesh together and I am beginning to realize as an older woman, what I say, how I act and the way in which I let the world treat me has enormous weight when it comes to how I influence her.
Perhaps I am giving myself a little too much credit -- I mean, hell, I've only seriously been in her life for a few months. But still, I feel this overwhelming urge to give her an example of what a strong female role model should be.
This got me thinking of other ways I can be an example of strength and a strong female role model for the younger generation.
1. How I talk about my body influences how other women around me will see theirs.
When we express our hatred for our chubby tummy, thick thighs or wiggly arm fat, we not only send a message of hate to ourselves, but we send that negative message out to anyone who hears it. By giving our insecurities a hateful voice, we perpetuate the farce that an imperfection in our body is something to be ashamed of.
2. Embracing who I am is the most freeing thing I can do for my own well-being, but it's also an incredibly powerful thing to show the world around me.
By loving myself for all of my flaws, idiosyncrasies and beauty, I am showing the women around me it is a thing of magic to love every bit of yourself and to be ecstatic being exactly who you are.
3. How I let romantic partners treat me sets an example of how I think women should be treated in a relationship.
By showing the women in your life you accept nothing less than a respectful, complicated, deeply loving relationship, you are setting the best example for the love every young lady deserves.
4. My relationships with my friends -- how we speak to each other, how we celebrate each other and how we help each other heal -- is incredibly important for young women to witness.
If we can show the next generation that women who support women can rule the goddamn world, then we can shift the culture of women tearing each other down into a culture of support that fosters growth within each other.
When the next generation of women looks to women my age, I want them to see strength. I want them to know I care so genuinely about their strength. I want them to see how much women my age want the younger age group to know how powerful, influential and magical they can be.
In order for that to happen, I have to lead by example. Strong women everywhere, of any age, must be the example. We must set the bar as high as possible for the next generation. Females are strong as hell, and we need to raise the next generation of ladies to never question that strength.