Go Ahead,
Underestimate Us

Ariana GrandeLast year, Teen Vogue writer, Lauren Duca appeared on Fox Television with Tucker Carlson to discuss her powerful piece, “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America.” In the now viral TV segment, Tucker interrupts Lauren repeatedly, questions her credibility as a writer and the legitimacy of Teen Vogue as a news platform, and attempts to devalue her as a political pundit.

He condescendingly asks Lauren how she can write about celebrities like Ariana Grande – and fashion items like thigh-high boots – and still consider herself an authoritative voice on politics, too. As one final jab, Tucker says to Lauren, “You should stick to the thigh-high boots. You’re better at that,” and then abruptly ends the interview. We’re left with a split-second glimpse of Lauren’s shocked face, and just like that the segment is over.

Really, Tucker? Can you not wrap your brain around the fact that a woman can love thigh-high boots and care about politics and have insightful opinions to share?

There’s an infuriating attitude in our society that women have to be “just one thing.” You’re a fashionista or you’re an expert on politics, but you couldn’t possibly be both. You’re a devoted mother or a successful CEO, but you couldn’t possibly be both. Women who are interested in traditionally feminine things – like clothes, hairstyling, makeup, yoga and fitness – tend to be automatically labeled vapid. They are seen as shallow women who couldn’t possibly have any thoughtful, well-researched opinions on politics, social justice, finance, science, healthcare or business.

These kinds of assumptions are totally unfair – and untrue.

There are millions of women – like Lauren Duca, like me, and like so many others – who like talking about pop culture and style, and who also care deeply about the state of our country and our world. These interests are not mutually exclusive. For whatever reason, certain people – like Tucker – can’t seem to grasp this concept.

Ariana Grande wears her own pair of thigh-high boots, sings about sex and Bad Decisions – and recently hosted a benefit concert in Manchester, UK for the victims of a deadly terrorist bombing during one of her shows. Ariana raised over $12 million dollars, alongside Chris Martin, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. In other words, she’s a woman of style and substance.

Lauren Duca quoteAt SheBrand, here’s what we know for sure: you can care about how you look – how you present yourself to the world – and be a book nerd, a tech geek and Shakespeare lover all rolled up into one. You can be an activist who is deeply involved with your causes and never miss your weekly manicure appointment. You can have style and substance.

Pink hair and Chanel? Great. Masters degree and PhD in political science, too? Plus you geek out listening to Pod Save America and NPR? Let’s be friends.

13 tattoos, a speech at the UN, a Planned Parenthood march and you live for Dior? I like you already.

It’s time for the world to wake up and recognize that women aren’t one-dimensional. To quote the poet Walt Whitman, we “contain multitudes,” and we have a myriad of interests and capabilities. When a member of the opposite sex – or anyone for that matter – insinuates that we are “air-headed” or “less credible” because of an interest they deem unimportant, they’re making a snap judgement that is 1) Often wrong and 2) Very sexist. Because the reality is that you can be seriously ambitious and seriously into having fun. You can be a woman who cares deeply about the latest Senate hearing in Washington D.C., and love champagne, lip gloss and your Louboutins. It’s not an either-or proposition. It’s both-and.

I have news for the Tucker Carlson’s of the world: go ahead, continue to underestimate us. The irony is that when you accuse us of only hitting one note, you continue to only hit one yourself.

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