Raise your hand if you’ve ever confidently asserted yourself, only to be met with a label — Bossy. Bitchy. Classless. Vulgar. Arrogant. Opinionated. Striving.
We spend a great deal of our time talking about feelings. The feelings of being a woman. The feelings of being an athlete. The feelings both inside the run, and the feelings of the moments in-between. The feelings of experiences that are both personal to us, and upon exploration, shared with our community. Today, we come to you with a feeling we're seeing more and more. We’re excited to report, that feeling is swagger.
Swagger (verb) - to walk or behave in a confident manner. A term with deep ties to the representation of a body, swagger is the unapologetic presentation of self-confidence by an individual. It is not loud, but it is strong. It is not arrogant, but it is unwavering. We’ve seen this in sports. We’ve seen this in men. But for women, this emotion can be harder to find.
Swagger dominates the world of men’s athletics. Sports like basketball, football, and boxing embrace and even sensationalize the unapologetic confidence of the athlete. One could even go as far to say swagger, in men’s sport, is the norm. But in women’s sports, it’s taken us longer to arrive. The icons of female swagger have been met with less than open arms. One can’t forget when Serena Williams was famously called cocky for her aspirations to be the best in the world.
Yet this is changing — we’re witnessing a world where female swagger is on the rise. A response to a culture that pressures women to sit still, look pretty, and quiet down - swagger is a reflection of the state of female sport, and confidence. As women come together, and stand up for their own self-image, Swagger is increasingly on display.
Some icons of swagger pushing the paradigms of representation in culture:
Serena. Excellence in the absence of qualifiers (like gender). Beyonce. Bow down. She aint sorry.
Ronda Rousey. The power. The posturing. The introduction of the ‘DNB’ and her insistence that she is at all costs, not that. While we at Oiselle favor a world where women elevate women - one can’t deny Rousey’s swagger is a part of her competitive advantage.
And leave it to Lauren Fleshman to bring to life the artful, delicate marriage of swagger and grace. Standing in solidarity with her peers, ready to respectfully, run them into the ground.
So where does Swagger come from? Many places. Any environment where self-confidence meets self-efficacy. For many women - these identities often begin in sport. Gina Prince-Bythewood (known for films such as 'Love and Basketball', and 'The Secret Life Of Bees') shares how sports has shaped her confidence in her career as a screenwriter:
"I remember sitting outside Mike DeLuca's office at New Line, waiting to go in to pitch Love and Basketball. I was literally shaking—I'd never directed a film before. Why would he ever give me millions of dollars? Biggest moment of my life, and I was gonna choke. Finally, I took a deep breath and told myself to just walk into the room like I used to walk onto the court: eyes up, smirk on my face, mad confident in my abilities. I left that meeting with $14 million to make my first film. Without swagger, I'm just that shy girl who can't find her voice. With it, I am the baddest chick in the room."
Perhaps at its core — swagger comes from a refusal to address the opinions of others in the evaluation of your own self-worth. Sophia Amoruso would agree:
“No matter where you are in life, you'll save a lot of time by not worrying too much about what other people think about you. The earlier in your life that you can learn that, the easier the rest of it will be.”
After all - Ambition. Achievement. Confidence. Composure. None of these traits should ever be wrapped in apology. And for you, our community, our call to action is perhaps most important. Show us what swagger looks like, feels like, how it behaves for you. Share it with us, celebrate it in the world, and never, ever, say sorry.
Head Up, Wings Out.