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Celebrating women’s stories

‘A strong woman.’

‘My mother.’

‘Overweight. Fat. Cute.’

‘A old chick.’

These are some of the responses the new What I See Project got when it asked 100 women from all over the world the question: What do you see when you look in the mirror?

what_isee screen

That was it.  There were no other briefs or caveats, and women were encouraged to say whatever came to their minds on short films for the project.  Over the next five weeks, those 100 women from seven continents in 30 countries from stay at home mums to women in the arts, science, politics and business will share their stories on video each day.

I am honoured to be one of them.

Listening to each woman answer this question made me cry.  I tried to put my finger on just why it got me shedding the kind of hot, satisfying tears you might shed at the end of a film – somewhere on the border of happy and sad.  Perhaps because it felt foreign to hear and see women – old, young, pretty, ugly, fat, slim, transgender and many more – there on the screen speaking honestly about who they were without any lighting, professional make-up, rehearsing or direction.  I loved hearing the women’s stories and voices but I felt sad that seeing their honesty on the screen looked sort of out of place; it highlighted how little opportunity we get as women to tell our stories – as we are.

what I see project

When I did my bit, I kept asking ‘Was that okay? Are you sure?’ and the girls from the project said it was perfect. They didn’t edit me or tell me what to wear or what to say.  Indeed, the project is a global online platform aiming to simply give more women a voice in this way – unedited, undirected, as we are. Watch my bit here or head to the What I See Project site to find out more

Of the 100 women they asked, many came from the blogosphere – yours truly included – but others were high profile ambassadors that will hopefully help bring the project to a wide audience.

One of them is Caroline Criado-Perez (@CCriado-Perez), the feminist who recently took on the Bank of England.  In her trailer, she sums up both the potential of the project and the potential of the digital age to make women’s life better when she says: ‘The internet gives women a voice to do whatever they want to do without anyone’s permission.’

That resonated with me because Healthista.com, which I launched only ten weeks ago is just that for me – exactly what I know I was born to do.  I’d put if off for years because I always thought someone had to give me permission to do it or that a women’s health web channel like this was something those people over there with the money and the connections and the big shiny corporate building did.

Of course I have a wonderful developer, incredible designer, great team and amazing husband without which Healthista.com wouldn’t be possible, but it’s also something I dreamt up in the shower (seriously, in the shower) one day.  If it weren’t for the net I would have had to rely on a publisher in a shiny corporate building to put up the money to make it into a printed magazine. With the net, I could basically save some pennies and do it myself.  That’s how this online thing is empowering us as women. As people.

I am so honoured to have been asked to contribute to the What I See Project.  It’s a great symbol of women’s potential not only to help one another’s stories be heard but also to be inspired and buoyed by our sisters’ unique journeys.

That leaves me to pass the baton on to the next in-line to answer the question in her way – the Sheila Kanani at http://saturnsheila.wordpress.com/

Tell us what YOU see in the mirror in the comments below and you could win a beauty goodie bag courtesy of us

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