Tell women they’re beautiful.

Hi all, this past week we celebrated International Women’s day and I had a blast.

On this most auspicious of days, I like to take time to celebrate the women in my life who have supported and lifted me up in my own times of struggle. It’s funny, this marks the first year that I’ve gotten in on the festivities — I mean really gotten in on them — and I chalk that up to a powerful year of pouring into women around me and having them pour into me. I have truly seen the difference one person can make on a life this year, how encouragement and support can help us face life’s challenges with vigor.

One of the things I hear and see most often on a day like IWD, is how we need to build up the women in our lives by shifting the focus from appearances. It’s hard, ladies are conditioned their whole lives to compare themselves to others physically and to be their hardest critics when they look in the mirror — I absolutely agree that we need to be reminded just how intelligent, wise, empathetic, strong, capable, tenacious, and brave we are. Especially especially young women. This is my own corner of that soap box. When girls are small I think they need these messages ten fold. Tell those little girls they are capable and brave, stop the cycle of self comparison and beauty standards when they are small — that is how you make the most impact on societal norms.

That said, once we’re already adults — it’s kinda too late. At this point, do not forget to remind your friends that they are also the most stunningly beautiful people you have ever encountered. And this is no lie, no hyperbole.

Have you ever looked at someone you’re kinda in love with (platonic or otherwise) and wondered at how the sunshine warms their face and cups the curve of their cheek and sparkles in their eye, dancing in their hair like a halo of fire? How sweet and special every freckle, each dimple? How magnificent their natural smile, how good it makes you feel when they laugh?

We don’t see ourselves that way.

Tell women they're beautiful

When we look in the mirror it often isn’t when a ray of golden sun is alighting just so, it’s under the freaky fluorescent bulbs of the changing rooms or in the dimly lit basement bathroom. We don’t see our otherworldly love-selves.

So yes, tell the women in your life about all of their amazing qualities. Don’t leave anything out. Tell them how inspired you are by their bravery in the face of challenges. Tell them how you’ve seen them struggle — even fall — and get back up again, and how courageous they were to do it. Remind them that they are kind and compassionate. Remind them of all those less traditionally feminine traits too, the ones you love — like being defiant in the face of authority, being willing to stand up for others, being passionate about weird things like rocks and video games. How their passion makes them cooler than cool.

But also give them a glimpse, if you can, into how you see them. Give them a glimpse through the love goggles, because you see your mother and your grandmother and your sister and your best friend (and your wife and your girlfriend and your aunt… ) differently than anyone else.

You see what truly makes them beautiful, and they sometimes can’t.

 

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Take the Pledge: To Do No Harm

In 2011 I graduated school and stepped off into the real world to become “a communications professional”. More than someone with a basic understanding of spelling and grammar, communications is a career that spans the breadth of society. We’re everywhere, writing both the copy on the cereal boxes and the words that scroll up in front of newscasters and television personalities.

I’ve often espoused the importance of diverse and inclusive writing in popular media, something I consider to be an ethical responsibility. I have seen, without a doubt, the enormous impact of well-written, diverse stories. When someone who has been marginalised by society sees themselves represented in popular culture — and done well, without resorting to stereotyping — it can be a life-altering experience. It’s validating, people have told me, to have your existence acknowledged.

It's validating
Elizabeth shared this thought with me in a previous interview for Why Diverse Games

Although popular culture has often been my soap box of choice, the recent US election results have shown me that picking just one soap box simply isn’t enough. Yes, I believe that through representation in film, TV and gaming we will see a change in our society — but what can we do today?

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Game Review: Firewatch

(This post has been previously published to my blog, Light a Candle, here.)

Firewatch is the premier game of studio Campo Santo, who describe themselves as “a small but scrappy game developer in San Francisco, CA.” who “set out to make games about interesting people in fascinating places.”  (from the Campo Santo website).  Now, at the outset of my review I wanted to explain a few background things. For myself, player choice and representation have always been an imperative part of story telling in games, and when I started playing them I made tons of ludicrous statements such as “I’ll only play games where you can play as a woman.” Of course, if you’re a gamer you know this kind of stipulation is entirely unrealistic (perhaps woefully so).

Prepare for some very light spoilers below. I promise I won’t give away anything that doesn’t occur in the first five minutes of game play.

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