Brittany May (3 Years Later)
What empowers you the most?
2014: The knowledge that I can do anything I set my mind to. This whole #FierceFemales project was born out of my own personal pain. The intentions of the project might have been slightly selfish in the sense that I wanted to read the accomplishments, heroes and strengths of others to hopefully help heal myself.
#FierceFemales came to me one day and I just started sending out the questions and the response I got was incredible. Once I had encouragement from the first few women I began sending to musicians, artists and authors both local and international (because what’s the worst that could happen?) and I got few up and coming artists, a CCMA nominee and I’m still working on getting some authors but I became even more encouraged then I sat back one day and was like, “shit, I’ve done something big here.”
2017: Since writing this the first time I think I need to add strength and resiliency as two things that make me feel empowered. Since 2014 I’ve encountered anxiety, loneliness, confusion, desperation and sadness but at the beginning of 2017 I made the decision to actively make myself a priority. I'm only making decisions that are right for me by doing things I love, staying away from things and people that are toxic, not doing things that I don't want to do and laughing A LOT. So actively loving myself empowers me.
What makes you feel most beautiful?
2014: Being with my family makes me feel beautiful. I have a big family, yet when we are all together they never fail to make me feel special, wanted and beautiful. I am so grateful for how close I am with my family.
2017: I've been told I have a beautiful laugh so I have to say that I feel most beautiful when I laugh so hard my stomach hurts and my eyes tear up.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
2014: My grandparents without question. I want my grandparents to know that while maybe they haven’t graduated high school or even elementary school that they are the smartest, kindest and most selfless people I know.
My grandparents had to drop out of school at various points so they could help support their families and that hindered them later off in life as they had to take lesser paying jobs to support their own children.
Don’t get me wrong my Nanny always goes on about how much she enjoyed her puffed wheat factory days (where her and my Papas first locked eyes) and she worked there for around 40 years.
My grandparents worked their asses off to give my parents everything they could and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their sacrifices. That is something I will always keep close to my heart.
My parents for showing me the incredible love that they do every day and for giving me opportunities that they never had. I also thank them for showing me what true love really is, their love for each other is unconditional and I am so lucky to see evidence of that every day.
2017: I 100% failed to add my sister last time. My sister is my best friend, I have no idea where I would be in this world without her. She is 4 years younger than me but she teaches me every single day. Not many sisters could endure a 2-week road trip without a single fight! She is incredibly strong, she knows what she wants, she has sass for days and she has the kindest heart. She has never compromised herself or her beliefs for anyone and she wasn’t afraid to call me out when I wasn’t being true to myself... even if she was met with resistance. She will always be an incredible role model for me.
Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
2014: Several years back I became obsessed with the 50s and 60s, especially two of the most popular ladies of that era Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
Audrey Hepburn, I respect for her extremely kind heart. She did so much humanitarian work with Unicef and she travelled a lot to third world countries to help and to see first-hand what it was like. I respect that so much because those are some of my own goals in life and I think that more people should help out if they can.
Marilyn Monroe is a big role model for me because she was unapologetically herself. My respect for her grew after I read her autobiography. So many people have a skewed vision of her. Truth is she lived a fucked up life and people are so quick to judge. But I admire her for persevering as long as she did, none of us will know what was going through her mind the night she died. I choose to believe she was an otherwise strong woman who had a very weak moment and I have so much respect for someone that lives day to day with pain that most of us can’t even comprehend.
2017: Malala Yousafzai, she is only 20-years-old she is an advocate for the education of girls and has already endured so much in her 20 years. She is the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize and as of earlier this year, she was given honourary Canadian Citizenship. She is an incredible young woman, I have yet to read her book but I would recommend "He Named Me Malala" it's about her life growing up in Pakistan, the incredible support of her father and about the Taliban trying to kill her at the age of 15.
If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
2014: Lisabeth Salander hands DOWN! She is really the first bad ass bitch I came across in literature. She is she knows what she wants, she is smart and she doesn’t take anyone's shit.
2017: Rachel Watson from The Girl on the Train. She is so flawed and it's wildly empowering to read a character that isn’t what you’d expect. A woman who isn't perfect.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
2014: I hope that my biggest accomplishment is yet to come but my biggest accomplishment to date would have to be beginning to establish myself as a freelancer. I really only recently got down and dirty with the whole “owning my own business” thing. I began to take it more seriously and this summer I was presented with more opportunities than ever before and it’s been pretty crazy but also amazing.
2017: My biggest accomplishment is finally travelling on my own. Actually, as I write this I’m in Leeds, England nearing the end of my trip. Since I can remember I’ve wanted to travel to Europe but I always thought I’d be one day doing it with the man I loved, and maybe I will, but for now I’m here on my own and it’s been incredible, life-changing and eye-opening. Everyone should travel to someplace new by themselves, I’m truly blessed to be doing this by myself. Travelling alone teaches you social skills, navigation skills (LOL), how to be by yourself and about other cultures. This last month has been nothing but rewarding.
What is your favourite quote?
2014: Well, I am a quote person so I have many! For starters, I will share one that has stuck with me for many years…
“To rise out of mediocrity you must not be afraid to fail.” - Unknown
It has really shaped how I live my life. Every person has something special to give the world and where would we be if everyone were afraid of failure.
“She turned her can’ts into cans, and her dreams into plans.” - Kobi Yamada
I had this tattooed on my arm after a pretty big change in my life. I got the tattoo to keep reminding myself to make plans and follow through on them and to at least try when I doubt myself.
“Do not be so heavenly bound that you are no earthly good.” - Kaye May
I found this quote on a piece of paper in my grandmother's things after she passed away and I am convinced she is the author because I have Googled it and found nothing. My grandmother was a very religious woman and I think this quote illustrates what a kind heart she had. I think there are quite a few self-righteous people (none that I know personally) that hide behind the bible and are so focused on making it “upstairs” one day that they forget to look around and actually get involved and try to make a difference on the only Earth we'll ever know.
2017: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” - Shakespeare
What is your biggest life goal?
2014: To be my own boss. I want to have my own freelance communications business and I have started to take steps in that direction but I realize I need much more experience before getting to where I want to be, I mean I’m only 24.
I want to write a book; maybe it's a novel, or maybe it’s just a compilation of my words and quotes. I LOVE words but I didn’t always, I didn’t even like reading and now to most of my friends, I am the biggest bookworm they know. But it would be amazing to have something published with my name on the cover.
2017: My goal is to live a life for myself; a life I’m proud of.
If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
2014: I would tell her that “things will get better”. 12-year-old Brittany had it pretty rough and looking back I am so proud of her. No matter what happened she remained true to herself and that’s all I can ask.
2017: “Don't compare yourself to anyone because you’re not like anyone else.”
What does feminism mean to you?
2014: To me, feminism is strong women empowering other strong women, we have enough people in the world telling us what we can and can’t be and it takes a strong woman to tell another woman “you can”.
Feminism is also not about belittling the other gender. I once heard someone say “to be equal is not to be superior”, I think some people (myself once included) mistake feminism for putting down the male gender and that isn’t the goal of feminism. The goal is to stand equally beside a man in any and all situations.
2017: While it’s nice to believe that feminism is all about being nice and supporting other women (and it partly is) there is a much bigger picture. Feminism today means learning and understanding the issues of all women. I, as a privileged white woman, have experienced the injustice of sexism but women of colour, LGBTQIA*2S women and immigrant women experience the injustice of sexism while also battling racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia among so many other things. So while I carry the weight of sexism on my shoulders there are women behind me carrying more weight than I. A good feminist recognizes the social and systematic injustices that are faced by these other women and they offer to help carry their weights.
Brittany is the founder of the Fierce Females project in Winnipeg, Manitoba.