The topic of the female image in America is an interesting one. It's something I've had to give a lot of thought in preparing to write this week's post. What is the female image in our country? Did I know, and more importantly, what did I think about it? It had all been inspired back in December of last year when Vogue Magazine had sent out a press pitch about a size 4, 5'10" model who "struggled to fit in" in the modeling world because of her weight. It came across NPG co-creator Meghan Cleary's desk, as she's a TV personality and often pitched stories. It prompted a discussion on email between Meghan, myself and a few others.
"They had wanted me to Tweet/blog, etc. about this," Meghan shared later as we talked about it for today's article. "To have a story about a woman who feels she is too big at a size 4 really shows how intense the pressure is to be thin across the board."
Women are certainly at least somewhat judged on appearance in the business and even political world. When was the last time you saw a round up of prominent men in either field breaking down who had the nicest arms, who was most attractive, etc.? There are never any articles about how Rupert Murdoch could really use a good facial peel because his skin looks dull, or that Joe Biden could use an update on the hair. There are certainly plenty of signs that women in business battle certain stereotypes. I've seen it in my own work a few times. I know many other women founders have.
"In my current industry, it is a lot easier to be accepted as a mother of four who created a product for families than it is to be accepted as an experienced sales and marketing executive with a strong media background (AOL, Time, CNN)," said Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of HINT water.
Women entrepreneurs shared tales of battling a range of stereotypes, sometimes fueled by the actions of other women, sometimes fueled by old mindsets. In Hollywood, where business women operate among many stereotypes, it can be hard for some to avoid feeling a need to overcompensate, or fear they won't be taken seriously. Women in tech have expressed disappointment that many women focused sessions seemed limited to mommy blogging and topics like sex and the internet, versus the wider picture of women in the business.
But, while women founders might take note of the obstacles around us, what was more prevalent was that far more, we are happy, excited and positive about being women in business in America. Women today are present and making an impact more than ever.
"There are a total of 91 women in senate and congress," added Marlene Wallach, President of Wilhelmina Kids and Teens and JustAskMarlene.com, which offers a variety of products and insight for girls and teens. "Women comprised 46.5% of the total U.S. labor force in 2008."
While I do believe many of us (myself included) feel pressured at times to be perfect, if there were one common sentiment among the female founders I've met and know, it's that there is no longer just one female image, but many - and it ranges the gamut.
Today's female image is everywhere. But most of all, it comes in many shapes, styles and types. There's nothing more Power Girl than that.