Just in time for Valentine’s Day. We’re bringing you words of wisdom from a girl whose message we love. Strong, powerful, and inspirational, Alexis Jones, author of I AM THAT GIRL: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose and #bethatgirl invites us to share in her global message that each of us has enough, does enough, and is enough.
And because there’s nothing more clever than reminding girls everywhere that they’ve got “a smokin’ hot heart and drop dead gorgeous mind,” we caught up with Alexis to find out a little more.
How do you find the balance between being a champion for other women, being happy for others’ successes, while also going at it alone and putting you first?
AJ: Putting myself first as well as championing my friends requires a special balance because you don’t have anything to give when you aren’t taking care of yourself first, so I always say, it’s in everyone’s best interest that you take good care of yourself and champion yourself, so you are full enough to love and champion others!
Women have a tendency to apologize for their answers, qualifying ideas with, “This might not be right, but…” How would you encourage women to own their intelligence?
AJ: Smart is the new Sexy, period! I’m all about women owning their intelligence and NOT apologizing for their ideas or their opinions! So much of our confidence comes from our ability to own our voices, and I want more girls willing to speak their truth.
AJ: I’m so glad you noticed that in the first place! With such an enormous pressure regarding our physical beauty and our bodies, I wanted to touch on the issues, but not harp on them. I think we shift the cultural dialogue about our bodies, by first lessening the amount of time we grant that topic in the first place. Language dictates our reality, so I’m a huge fan of being super conscious of what we breathe life to. Our “body issues” exist because it’s all anyone ever wants to talk about in the girl empowerment space, and I just think there are sooo many other things we can talk about alongside it!
I love the idea of writing down an excuse before giving it air. How has this helped you focus on the solution instead of the problem?
AJ: Here’s the deal, we know ourselves better than anyone and we can use it to our advantage or we can leverage it to make shortcuts. I realized that when I wrote down all my “excuses” and challenged myself not to use them, that I actually made progress on my goals.
Who are your role models?
AJ: My number one role model is my mom. She is single-handedly my inspiration for starting I AM THAT GIRL. Other than her, my grandmother (Bess) played a huge role in my life, as well as my family in general. I’m incredibly blessed when it comes to the caliber of people I have in my corner. As for people I never had the chance to meet, but was incredibly inspired by: Amelia Earhart, Pippi Longstocking, Mother T, and Eve Ensler.
How do you feel about the concept of “It” girls?
AJ: “It” girls have always excited me and what inspires me the most is when influential girls have the humility and selflessness to recognize the power and platform that comes with being the most popular girl on the scene. Fortunately, several of my dear friends happen to be standing center stage at the moment and are leveraging their influence to support my new book and the I AM THAT GIRL movement.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to women in the workplace?
AJ: I think the biggest challenge for women transcends the work place because I think we are all living in an epidemic of self-doubt that affects us in the shower, at the gym, in our bedroom and at work. Girls (including myself) struggle with simply feeling ENOUGH and it’s why we don’t feel awesome about ourselves and why we don’t always chase down our dreams with reckless abandon.
You don’t strike me as a shy woman. What advice would you give to women who aren’t as vocal or outgoing? Who find it harder to reach out a hand, network, and be bold?
AJ: We need outgoing girls as much as we need shy girls. I’m not interesting in changing anyone! I think that we all have areas of our lives that we are more bold than others, and yet there is so much magic that lies in the intersection of passion and fear, so I do challenge everyone to step outside their comfort zones and be bold!
Have you heard of The Bechdel test? It asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Many contemporary works fail this test. What would be The Jones Test?
AJ: Hmm. Interesting, I have never heard of that test, but how sad that so many books fail that test! I think the Jones Test would be a litmus test of how many times a girl said something negative about herself and how many times she said negative things about other women! My goal would be that if it was more than a handful, then the book didn’t get the Jones approval!
Would you call yourself a feminist?
AJ: Absolutely! I think it’s a shame that, that word has such a negative connotation because I don’t think that any girl who sat down and really looked at the tenets of that moment, would vehemently disagree with the desire for equality. At the same time, I’m working very hard for I AM THAT GIRL to be another expression of girl empowerment and hope it encapsulates several of the feminist tenants while also addressing some of the challenges unique to my generation.
Speaking of feminists, any thoughts on Beyonce? Or other entertainers, like Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, or Sarah Jessica Parker, who refuse to identify with the word?
AJ: At the end of the day, I’m not here to judge on the relationship some women have to a word, especially high profile women who I admire. I think everyone has different relationships to different words and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t agree with the tenants, but maybe have been turned off merely by the negative connotations associated with it. I don’t think anyone would argue that the previously mentioned women above weren’t bold, beauty-full, smart and driven… so I’m proud to say in their own way, they each epitomize THAT GIRL!
Photo credit: Jersean Golatt