Why we need to encourage more female badasses

I am a female badass.

I don’t really look like the Hollywood prototype for a badass. I’m overweight, I’m short, and I’m a klutz. And while I am capable of wielding a weapon, I couldn’t find a resting bitch face within me if I tried (and trust me, I’ve looked for it.)

The beauty of badassery is that looks are not a requirement. One doesn’t need to fit into a skintight costume to call oneself a badass. What one does need, however, is the proper state of mind.

I am badass. Hear me Roar

I was recently in Washington, DC for a work event. A program I created, co-founded, and worked tirelessly to grow was positioned to win an award and I was positioned to showed off what seven months of Toastmasters had done to my stage presence.

In being an award finalist, a presenter, a member of the association for which I was conferencing at, and it being my first appearance at the whole shebang, my name tag looked like it was straight out of the Hall of Flags. I drew in a lot of attention with all of the colors hanging below my name. And with attention came conversation.

I energetically explained my program and my passion behind its cause to everyone who asked. When conversations turned to strength, or sports, or random facts of trivia about ourselves (as they so often do at conferences where no one knows anyone), I added in my zinger: I’m also a second degree black belt in Karate.

This admission never fails to stun people and it never fails to make me feel both cool and suddenly shy at the same time.

“HOLY CRAP!! You’re a BADASS!!!!”
“WOW. What a BAMF”
And, my favorite: “Wow. Just wow. You’re an inspiration. Can you talk to my 10 year old daughter? I told her about you and you’re now her personal hero.”

What is Badassery?

Ever since I got into Karate, I’ve heard some variation of  the testament to my badassery. I think anytime a woman takes the initiative to learn how to physically defend herself or her friends, she scores some level of suburban street cred. But not every Badass wears an Obi (that’s a karate belt to the non-martial arts folks). I know a lot of badasses within my circles of friends.

There are those who fly planes and take pole dancing classes. There are those who balance careers, kids, and marathons and despite exhaustion, still manage to exude positive energy every damn day. There are a lot who have overcome pure hell and can still talk about it with the same grace as if they were at a tea party. There are those who struggle so silently you wouldn’t know the pain they have and continue to endure but do so with a warm smile on their face. Like I said. I know a lot of badasses.

I asked a group of my lady friends what they thought of when they hear the word badass. And as diverse as they are, there seemed to be some common themes as to what badassery is:

Badassery is a state of mind
Badassery is living confidently
Badassery is living unapologetically
Badassery is not being a victim of your life, but a hero
Badassery is believing in yourself and knowing that if you fail and fall, you’ll still get up again
Badassery is holding your head up high in the face of adversity
Badassery is not worrying about whether people like you

Badassery seems like it should be as common to us as breathing, but it’s not. Most of us were not raised to be badasses.

Encouraging Badassery

My badassery did not arrive at my doorstep one morning like an Amazon delivery. There is no Badass Prime and you can’t next-day mail yourself confidence. My brand of badassery was the direct result of needing to prove to myself that I wasn’t the piece of sh*t I’d been told I was most of my life.

We tend absorb and learn badassery by watching others who are in possession of it. And as we take in that which can make us stronger, we decide for ourselves whether we want to follow in the footsteps of our fellow badasses or take the simpler path with fewer swear words.

Personally, I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be a badass. In my opinion, we should teach it to girls in school. Exchange cooking for confidence building. Or do both–be a badass chef.

Badassery doesn’t need to be about knocking people’s teeth out or being a fighter at all. At the very least, badassery is about confidence and a level of fierceness that reminds each and every one of us that we will not let others make us feel small.

Let’s remind ourselves and the girls who watch us that it’s okay to be at least a little bit fierce and a little bit strong. It’s perfectly acceptable not to be a people-pleaser. And for the love of all that is holy, YOU DO NOT NEED TO ALWAYS BE LIKEABLE (more on that in a different post).

If you are in a position to teach a skill that will serve girls and women well, let that lesson be: Be. A. Badass. 

encourage more female badasses


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