Is everything. We can choose to accept that which we’re given. Or we can make our own images, in our own likeness. To share with the world.
A story: In 2018, we visited the African American History Museum in Washington DC. It was the day after running Marine Corps. After Courtney scored us the tickets online (thank you DC insiders), Lesko, Jacinta and I made our way to the museum. Words are wholly inadequate. It was one the most powerful experiences I've ever had.
Among the MANY layers of information and insights was a single placard that jumped out at me. It wasn’t the biggest display in the museum, in fact, it was a bit tucked away. It was a photo of Frederick Douglass. Beneath the photo were the following words:
"Photography fascinated Frederick Douglass because he believed it captured the truth. He thought artists were biased and would not paint or draw African Americans accurately. To represent himself correctly, Douglass had many photos taken over the course of his life."
When I read these words I had an abrupt recognition of truth. The idea that diversity and representation is much bigger than simply asking the makers of cultural images or media to show us as we are, but rather to BE the creators of those images. And the notion that we cannot trust this work to others. We (Oiselle), and we (women and non-binary fem individuals) must define our own imagery. Authenticity matters. Accuracy matters. Diversity matters. Being an independent, women-led business matters. Otherwise, we’re just along for the ride.
To create a new narrative around girls and women in sports, we must first take control of representation. This is a sea change. Bigger than any one group or even generation. It’s up to all of us to show the beautiful, diverse, breaking-the-mold images that create a more true and authentic representation of who we are.
As we start rolling with 2019, we’re celebrating the fact that we’re ALL real runners. We run. We exert. We work and push and thrive and fail and rise again. We represent ourselves. And together, we represent the run. It looks different today than it did 20 years ago, in part because girls and women are rising like never before. We’re showing up. And we're asking you to show up too. We’re sharing our lives in new ways. Not just challenging stereotypes, but tearing them down, with every step, every exhale of who we really are. In the coming weeks, you'll see us sharing #RepresentTheRun, and we hope you'll join us.