How I Found Empowerment by Taking the Stage
This piece was originally posted on Miss Amazing's first blog, "Conversations of Confidence" on June 3rd, 2013.
Excitement rippled through the room when my Girl Scout troop leaders announced that the theme of the district-wide talent show would be a salute to women, or “girl power.” This was a popular idea when I was young, largely because the Spice Girls, who used it as one of their catchphrases, were incredibly famous at the time. However, as much as I loved the Spice Girls, “girl power” held a deeper meaning for me. I was born with a physical disability called Larsen syndrome, so, at barely eight years old, I was already aware that being a woman with a disability is all too often viewed as a double disadvantage by society. I wanted to do my part to change that and to prove that, even as a young girl, there was power within me.
The talent show presented the perfect opportunity to let out my budding voice for advocacy. I can still remember the feeling of words taking shape in my mind as I thought about the message I wanted to share with the audience. Then, one evening, I sat in my room and wrote my thoughts down until they became lyrics to a song that I titled “I’m a Girl.” It begins: “I’m a girl / Watch me dream / One day I’ll be what I wanna be / And nobody in the world can stop me. / I stand proud, I stand strong / And I will live through right and wrong.” As the song continues, I express gratitude for amazing female role models including Susan B. Anthony and Oprah Winfrey. I also assert that girls have the potential to grow up and do anything they set their minds to, from being a carpenter, to a baseball player, to President. (Hey, I dreamed big!)
When the night of the talent show arrived, I was a ball of energy and nerves. I had never performed anything in front of an audience before, let alone something I had written. But, even though I was quite young, I knew that in my own small way, I was contributing my voice to two causes I believed in – women’s rights and disability rights. So, when it was my turn to sing my solo, I looked deep inside myself and called on all the confidence I had. Then, I got on stage and sang my heart out. Today, as I look back on this experience, I realize it was just the beginning of my lifelong journey focused on taking pride in who I am.
I’m 22 years old now, but the message I want to share remains the same as it was so many years ago during the talent show. Neither disability nor being female is a weakness; girls and women of all abilities and ages have the right to feel empowered. I always remind myself that one person has the power to make changes in society, and, together, the positive impact we can have on the rights of women with disabilities can be incredible. By embracing confidence and taking the stage, we can show the world that being disabled and being female are not what make us weak, but rather what make us strong and unstoppable.