By Nikki H. Huang
I have been told, more than once in my life, that I am selfish.
Sometimes, I truly am… are we all not occasionally guilty of some exaggerated self-interest?
But what recently piqued my interest on the nature of being labeled as such are the thoughts that arose when I asked myself: If I were a straight man, would people still be calling me selfish?
It dawned upon me rather quickly: No, as a man, I would not be called “selfish” half as much.
What inherently bothers me about the swiftness with which more aggressive women are labeled “selfish”—or bossy or bratty or a diva—is that often times, people are simply insulting the display of traditionally “male” traits.
When women assert, advocate, express, and decide…when they *gasp* choose to act in pure self interest, I believe they are simply acting as they can, as they should.
Society is constructed in such a way that women are raised to be nurturers. We are expected to be giving, subservient, some might even say complacent. The instant women demonstrate behavior commonly expected from men, the status quo is interrupted. It offends others, men and women alike.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I am not trying to promote complete and utter self-absorption. Instead, I am simply encouraging women to listen to the voice inside that says ‘but what do I want?’
Those around us have preconceived ideas of what they need women to be. They have already decided the roles they want us to fill.
How dare she choose her own happiness over her partner’s, over her family’s?
How dare she feel her own feelings, want her own wants, chase her own dreams, before considering those of others?
How dare she object?
How dare she interrupt?
How dare she question?
How dare she lead from in front instead of supporting from behind?
Here’s the thing though: I love selfishness in women.
And since I am writing for a fashion column, allow me to word it this way: I find a certain level of self-possession in women who are always stylish, always fashionable. Does beginning this article by saying I am called sometimes selfish and then professing my love for the insult/praise make me inherently narcissistic? I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that when I am told I am selfish, a small part of me, not stinging from insult from a loved one, rejoices. I aspire to be a woman who, in some ways, is a little selfish. How can you ever change the world, readers, if you first cannot change yourself?
Don’t get me wrong, though. I am not trying to promote complete and utter self-absorption. Instead, I am simply encouraging women to listen to the voice inside that says “but what do I want?” I have learned in my 18 measly years of existence that listening to that voice can be extremely empowering. No one knows the inner depths of who you are more than yourself.
How can you go after what you want and weather all the rejections and pain involved with realizing your dreams, if you first are not strong enough to protect who you are?
How can you nurture and support your loved ones along the way, if you cannot first take care of yourself?
How will you able to influence, affect, inspire—all things your average world-changing, goalachieving human must be able to do—if you are not first able to do so within yourself?
And to become who you believe you are meant to be, you must focus on you.
What happens when a woman wants to create her “own lane,” as mega-celebrity-turned-prospective-lawyer Kim Kardashian wrote on Instagram yesterday?
Heed my advice when I say a certain element of selfishness is necessary: You, you brave creator-of-lanes, are in for one hell of a ride. The world is not made to give you an easy time. People will love you, yes. But they might often find it hard to do so, for sometimes you burn things standing in your way in order to re-create.
Please, let us not balk at how terrifying that may sound. Is constant change, and a constant barrage of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual highs, mediums, and lows not the essence of being alive?
Here’s to Selfish Women: May we be them and may we raise them!