RACHEL MANSI

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

There’s always more to strive for, and when we achieve that, we move the goalposts again. This may motivate some people to push themselves further, towards their goals, but will they ever be able to just sit still in the now, and feel ok in their own skin? If we never feel ‘good enough’, what is there to celebrate?

Personally I find that being happy with who I am right now is a much more positive motivating force. I want to do things – work hard, exercise, eat well – because I feel like I deserve the joy and health they will bring me, rather than because they will make me ‘better’ in some way.

Loving ourselves as we are frees up our time and energy for more important tasks, like changing the world around us for the better, for ourselves and for future generations!

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF / HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

When I was younger I found it very difficult to say positive things about myself, but as I got older I realised that the words we use literally create our reality. One of the most helpful lessons I have learnt is that if we wouldn’t say something to a friend, we shouldn’t say it to ourselves.

Now I try to use positive language when talking about myself – there are things that I am good at, and it feels good to own that, and express it. Obviously I’m not great at everything, but I’ve found that the happier and more secure I feel, the easier it is to admit mistakes, or to acknowledge areas I need to work on.

I’ve noticed that other people, often younger women, sometimes seem surprised when I say that I’m happy with myself and my life – but I take that as a cue to encourage them to see themselves more positively too.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

For centuries women have been discouraged from feeling or expressing pride in their achievements – it is cultural conditioning and it is deeply ingrained! I do feel a shift, maybe it’s more evident on social media as that is where young people are sharing their work. I notice that younger women seem to find it easier than women of my generation to be honest about how ambitious they are, and more open about celebrating their achievements. I hope this continues, as the world needs women to feel increasingly powerful. We need to bring about big changes.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

It’s such an automatic response, to brush off or minimise a compliment! But I try to take a moment and let it sink in, and appreciate the fact that someone has taken the time to say something nice to me.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA WE ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

Oh, so many ways! Every time we open a magazine, turn on the TV, walk into a shop, we are confronted with products that promise to help us hide or fix our ‘flaws’ and ‘imperfections’. There is a billion pound industry built on women feeling miserable and anxious – people are getting rich by inventing new ways to make us feel unhappy.

How can we take the power back? Love, and anger. Love for ourselves, exactly as we are. And anger at the system which profits from our pain. Reject the narrative that we are not good enough. Don’t buy the tummy-control underwear, the anti-wrinkle cream, the plastic surgery. Wear clothes that make you FEEL good, because they’re comfortable, fun, your favourite colour, whatever.

If you enjoy wearing make-up and dyeing your hair (I do!) that’s fine – but if you do anything because you feel like you SHOULD, because society has told you that not doing it makes you (shock, horror) unattractive – have a think about whether that is a message you want to listen to. Do you want your value to be determined by whether or not you fit a cultural stereotype of what is considered attractive? Or would you rather be appreciated for your creativity, your intelligence, your kindness, your ability to get shit done?!

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

Over the last few decades, the culture has focused more and more on the self-expression and fulfilment of the individual. We need to balance this with a new focus on the collective – we need to work together for the greater good. Women working together can change the world. I was brought up in the 70s by a young single mother, who had no family support. Our life could have been pretty miserable, but she had friends, and we lived for a while in a women’s commune in South London; it was a big house full of women and kids all supporting each other and working together to build a better life than we could all have had separately. This is what THE TRIBE means to me – women actively working together to make the world a better place.
The world feels unstable, which is a source of anxiety, but also an opportunity for us to bring about meaningful positive change. We can make choices about where we spend our money, which businesses deserve our support, and which don’t. Those of us with privilege must recognise our good fortune and use whatever leverage we have to make space and increase opportunities for others who have been marginalised. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the work to be done, but we must remember that together we are strong. We rise by lifting others.

Occupation: Online retailer of vintage fabric

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