Red. The color of passion, desire, anger, power, warmth. Red is an overall shout of boldness. Today, women are encouraged to wear red in honor of International Women’s Day as an act of solidarity and I’m behind that wholeheartedly. It’s just red and I have never really had a loving relationship. I prefer the cool blues and purples over anything red-related. I’ll even take pink, the softer side of red, when picking make-up or clothes, so my red outfits are limited.
When I was getting ready this morning, I stared at my options: a bright red dress with black and white roses or an old red shirt that says “Taste My Rainbow” with a Skittles logo on it from my young twenties that I thought was hilarious (I still do). Both were outspoken feminist options in their own right, but I was already really committed to my outfit for the day and just didn’t want to wear red. I could have worn a red bra, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of the day. Unless of course, I pulled a Superman and flung my shirt off before saving puppies from a burning building. Not the most viable option, but it could be fun. Then again, my undergarments would most likely get more face time than my heroic act, but that talk is for another day.
In the end, I wore red lipstick. I decided I’ll let my lips do the talking for me (both literally and figuratively).
While applying my lipstick, I thought about the women who have inspired me and I realized they inspire in different ways. That one woman’s strength doesn’t look like another’s. Then a thought crossed my mind: if strength comes in different forms, is one better than the other?
When I first think of strength, I envision armor-clad warriors riding into battle Braveheart-style with their steel swords held high. I know many women who fit this description and I love them for their willingness to fight so loudly. In fact, I’ve already chosen some for my zombie-apocalypse team and I know they wouldn’t let me down. They’d either debate the zombies to their undeath or fight them with a rusty shovel (both being highly effective). So, brute strength, whether in words or deeds, is certainly the most noticeable. It’s an ostentatious fire that can’t be quelled and oppression only makes it burn brighter.
Then there’s the quiet strength. The kind that is like a flowing river. It never stops and it can always be counted on to move along, no matter the circumstances. From afar, it seems gentle and beautiful but if you fell in, you’d realize extremely quickly how strong its current is, taking you away with a relentless pull. I’ve seen many women with this type of strength, silent but always simmering.
Walking out of my house today, I was reminded of another type of strength. The one that lays dormant until it can’t stand not to be expressed. A strength that forgets it has armor on underneath its softness. A weed popped up between the grouting of my cement driveway, it’s little yellow flower blooming. Normally, weeds popping up from the ground are considered nuisances that need to be yanked out and tossed aside, but all I observed this morning was a tenacious desire to grow and be seen. To be allowed to brighten up a gray sidewalk with delicate beauty. That something so small managed to burst through the brutal cement and simply stand its ground like it was meant to be there all along.
There’s been times my own strength has surprised me, popping up like that weed. Other times, my strength is quiet and constant like a river, and other times still, I’m running down that hill with my sword raised high yelling out my battle cries. The point is, we are all strong in our own ways and one isn’t better than another. Each day I discover my own strength and it’s all thanks to those who have inspired me with theirs.
So, whether we wear a red dress, an outlandish shirt, bright undergarments or simply paint our lips, let’s celebrate strength today, tomorrow and always.