I was having a conversation with one of my besties, I have spoken about her before but one thing I love about this friend is that we can be completely ourselves when we speak. There are no airs, graces or fake news.
We sometimes talk about what is bothering us, we give each other invaluable advice about products that will tan you into next week or make your eyelashes grow at the speed of that hair on your chin!
But something else we often talk about is the things in our lives that are going well. The things we have kicked ass at, or the things we know we are bloody good at so we will kick ass later on.
She often wears a t-shirt saying ‘in your dreams’ and apparently in an incident she found herself in this means she loves herself.
It got me thinking about this little world we live in, as a woman it seems you can be anything you want these days, except confident.
Because surely if your confident you love yourself and are a big head. Right?
It reminded me of a time when I worked in a prison. I was a teacher so I wore my own clothes. Each morning I would put together some stylish and downright fabulous outfits and team them with the nicest mid –heel I could find (due to prison staff regulations and security reasons otherwise it would have been the full on stiletto!).
I took pride in my appearance and was, and still am, proud of how I looked. I invested time and money in myself. Why did I do that? Because it makes me happy ,it is what makes me feel comfortable, confident and I have always believed as a teacher I am a role model to the women I teach. Often I would have a conversation with the prisoners about how cheap it can be buy things that look expensive and it’s more about how you wear it than where the label is from. We would discuss how it can make you feel good and improve your mental health by focusing on you and having pride in yourself and how you look. Hey, some of those ladies even started to come to my classes with a bit of mascara on, or a bit of lippy if they could acquire it, Am I proud of that? Hell yes I am. Did I change their lives? Who knows, that’s probably a whole new blog post for another day. But if one of those women who had had any shred of self- confidence beaten or dragged out of them left with a tiny bit more than they came in then well ,I am more than ok with that.
I am digressing……
There was a certain element of distance shall we say between some of the female prison officers and the non-uniformed staff. However, I have to point out there were some absolute gems of ladies who worked there and some who I am still very much friends with today and I salute you ladies because you’re doing a sterling and bloody great job.
There was a certain group of ladies who, well you know what ,they weren’t very nice ladies. They certainly didn’t appear to me to be in the ‘women for women’ movement if you get my drift. Any way, we used to have to smoke or Marlboro lights in a bus shelter back in those days, the glamour!
Said bus shelter was on the way to the education block so I would have to walk past there every days. At certain times said group of ladies would be enjoying a fresh air break together and they were also at times enjoying a little wondering about me and my fabulous outifts in their designated break time. Really they needed to get new material ‘Who does she think she is?’ ‘Is she dressing up to shag so and so’ ‘Why does she wear so much make up to work’ and well I won’t go into the ‘who did she bonk?’ rumour mill when I got promoted. The level was basic and the words ridiculous.
You see I walked with my head held high, I used to wave at them when they made comments and when I used to see them professionally on my own, I killed them with so much bloody kindness I made them nervous. You see I was never upset by these girls. I was angry. I was angry that the world had made them have a view of other women’s confidence as a sexual thing or a big headedness that can’t possibly be tolerated in this world. Least of all by a 20 something year old with a brilliant career and banging shoes.
I was and still am a confident woman. I am proud of my values and my beliefs and I am really happy with who I am. I believe that confidence and body confidence are two different things and I make no apologies for being this way.
I can list for you many things I am good at and never fail to answer the ‘Tell me your three greatest strengths’ question in a job interview. ?
And what I ask is so bloody wrong with that? Because I tell you if I was a guy walking past that bus shelter, you can bet your bottom dollar the comments would have been very different.
So you know what I say to the girls in the bus stop smoking their Marlbro’s back in 2008
I am Katie Howard. I dressed that way to impress myself and no one else. Don’t lower yourselves to talk smut in a public place, I wore so much make up to work because I wanted to. And trust me my lovelies I got to the top by being fucking amazing at my job, well most of the time (wink) x