Written by Amiah Taylor
I was in the mall and as usual, my mind was wandering. I thought to myself, why do the female mannequins have these dainty arched feet that look like they were made for high heels? The male mannequins are flat-footed and their poses seem more casual. They don’t have to stand with arched feet and backs to be socially acceptable.
This simple sight of how gender was performed in a display window got me thinking about how gender is performed in society. The struggle is real being a woman.
We are entangled in a spiderweb that society created for us. The one where our thoughts and movements and appearances are strictly stipulated by contradictory rules. If you don’t wear any makeup at all, then you can be criticized for not putting any effort into your appearance. However, you can’t be the hyperfeminine Malibu Barbie type of woman that loves pink dresses and stilettos unless you’d like to be dismissed as empty headed. If you choose to pursue body modification through plastic surgery, you’ll likely be seen as vain. If you’re a woman that weighs more, you are more likely to be belittled and enter poor quality relationships, though ironically the same is not true for large heavy set men. If you embrace your sexuality it can negatively impact how you’re seen as a mother. You can be stigmatized as lazy for being a housewife and receiving financial support. Conversely, you can’t be too independent, because then you’re seen as setting yourself up for a life of spinsterhood with at least five cats. If you’re too “bossy” then you’re seen as dislikable. And forget about being successful in male-dominated spaces, on the one hand, pretty women in leadership positions are seen as less capable. On the other hand, female bosses are much more likely to be seen as hostile and undesirable versus their male counterparts.
It’s incredibly easy to feel trapped and confused. And every existing stereotype or arbitrary parameter is that much more severe for women of color. As a whole, women don’t need more misogynistic advice on how to contort themselves and be well behaved. We’re sick of hearing what we can and can't do. We need a space to stand in our power and support one another.
At Poplar, the vigilance around women’s rights and voices that appears during International Women’s Month is not a passing phase. It’s a lifestyle. There is a true commitment to uplifting and highlighting women here.
As a modern drug store and marketplace, women can receive two-pronged care. The first prong is intentional woman-oriented care. You can enter the fold looking for a solution that only a woman would anticipate that another woman would need.
For example, women in male-dominated jobs and career fields tend to have a more acute sense of stress and irregular cortisol production rates. Black women, in particular, have heightened levels of cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland) because of ongoing and chronic stress. A masculine individual may not know how adrenal fatigue in women makes our lives more difficult. But it’s precisely for that reason that Poplar offers coffee with adrenal balancing herbs. Men and women have a myriad of beautiful differences, one of which is how we experience sex. Studies illustrate that between 25 to 50 percent of postmenopausal women experience painful sex. When you encounter something like CBD-infused lube cleanly designed specifically for people with vulvas, you know a woman or womxn was involved in creating such a thoughtful product.
The second prong of Poplar’s model of care is the strict maintenance of a diverse and inclusive environment. That can be seen in the 15 Percent Pledge that the co-founders Beryl and Blair are actively working to meet. There’s something beautiful about having a domain where you can be accepted as a businesswoman, not in spite of your blackness, or because of it, simply because you have found your community. Black women, as much as anyone else, need a source of togetherness and spiritual strength. I talked in a previous article about the way that Poplar completely dissolves the “prejudicial microscope society likes to place women of color under.”
Here it’s not about pre-determined or socially enforced roles that disproportionately limit women. Poplar is a space devoid of gatekeeping that does not desire to tell you what you can and can’t do and who you can or can’t be. We already understand here that to be the best that we can be, we must embrace womxn from all walks of life and celebrate them, hire them, stock their products, uplift their voices and embrace them fully.
In honor of International Women’s Month, I invite you to ask yourself two deeply important questions.
1. Am I enabling the women around me to be their best selves or do I support them only within the parameters of what makes me feel comfortable?
2. How can I place women’s progress above my own personal feelings and operate as a true ally? In a moment of bare and total honesty, you might be surprised what answers you may find.