By Mikayla Denault
My name is Mikayla Denault, and I’m just one of millions of girls who work hard every day just to be overshadowed by boys. Society has instilled this idea that men can do most things better than girls. But with my life, I am trying to change that stereotype through action.
Growing up with two moms, feminism has fortunately surrounded me in every aspect of my life. In my childhood, my moms taught me that little girls need to grow in an environment where everything unique about them, from their bodies to their talents, are celebrated and not shamed upon because it’s “unpopular.” Here’s a glimpse into my childhood, and how my parents molded me into the confident, empowered lady I am today.
Both of my moms, Meg and Missy, inspire me every day through their actions and careers. Missy is a Branch Executive at a non-profit while Meg is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at our local hospital and teaches two days a week at a community college. I am so proud of Missy. She is one of the most dedicated marathon runners I have ever met. Meg amazes me with sacrificing her time to do two jobs every week. Their actions reassures me every day that women can do a variety of activities and enjoy many lifestyles.
Growing up, I was never told once that I wasn’t good enough to do something, and my parents always encouraged me to try everything so I can experience life to the fullest. My moms exposed me to ballet, basketball, swimming, tennis, soccer, art, piano, theater, choir, and other activities so I could meet interesting people and find my path. To help me achieve my highest ability, they always helped me study in the morning so it could be fresh in my brain, and always took time to sit at dinner as a family to discuss the day. My moms are my biggest inspiration; they have a voice that they are never afraid to use and I have never seen them back down from anything or anyone when it comes to my well-being.
As I have grown older, my parents always made sure I learned about successful people and found passion through music. Meg even exposed me to classical music in the womb. Music and role models played a big part in my confidence. As a very shy little girl, listening to icons and activists’ life stories and doing activities similar to theirs really formed my outgoing personality knowing they went through the same thing. Women I am very inspired by are Audrey Hepburn, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Mrs. K, my middle school English, singing, and drama teacher. My moms, and these women that they have introduced me to, do the unimaginable everyday by giving back and using their talents to prepare our future women. These examples are what have helped shape my determination and drive to accomplish greatness.
With my parents being volunteers for our community by starting tumbling tots and other varied sports’ programs, I was always introduced to new experiences and learned why women empowerment is so crucial. When my school needed 8th graders to carry things for setting up an event, they asked for boys. When they did this, my best friend and I raised our hand and said that girls are just as capable in carrying things. From that moment on, they stopped specifically asking for boys and neutrally stated the statement. Another instance of this was when our local newspapers used the girls’ team as a subtitle and didn’t mention their scores (undefeated). My mom and I decided to complain to the source directly. With our action, the swim team and other girls’ teams got recognized for their amazing achievements.
I was so lucky as a child to grow up in a generation filled with inspiring women (and men) who will or even already changed the world. I am so grateful for my parents settling in the community I live in. In finding friends, I have realized this year at a new school that I gravitate towards friends who have a strong sense of drive to do greatness. With the group of friends I made, we all work together to achieve our goals and help each other get back up when we fall.
Women of the present are laying down this foundation through our actions that we can build upon in the years to come. A foundation filled with hope, love, fighting, persistence, confidence, and talent to form the blocks of privileges such as women’s suffrage, the ability to apply to the military, and the most current of receiving equal pay. I have seen what hardworking girls in my generation can do, yet some refuse to do it because it’s “uncool.” Girls can code, invent, engineer, conduct experiments, save lives, win, share their story through art, and fight for what they believe in all while caring for others’ needs with a smile on their face. So I encourage you girls, be out of the box. Don’t care what the popular thing is, because most likely the popular thing is not going to help you find success in life.
Personally, I definitely believe every day I am still working on finding empowerment inside of me. In high school, sometimes I may feel very insecure while other times I feel like I’m on the top of the world. I completely understand how this is a part of growing, realizing your worst critic is yourself. I want society to start realizing that women come in all shapes and sizes because God created them in His image so all of us can be our perfect selves. We are stronger than hate. No person is deserving of heartbreak and failure, but sometimes we have to endure this to achieve greatness.
I feel growing up with two moms has helped me through encountering problems and negativity straightforward. By doing so, I found my voice and went from this shy girl to a shining star who can disperse the darkness. This is exactly how I will want my future child to see the world in a perspective that boys and girls are both equal in every aspect of life, a life without degrading music, a society of girls who support one another, and no male privilege. I know the future is bright, when I see all of these amazing, empowered girls around me striving to achieve the unthinkable. And as I glance at my moms with thankfulness, all I see is love and power used throughout their lives to give the best possible life to me.