You probably know the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes right?
An Emperor orders a suit of clothes that are invisible to anyone who is incompetent or stupid. The emperor can’t see the clothes, but is so afraid of being judged incompetent or stupid that he pretends to be delighted with the garments and “wears” them in a parade through town. All the onlookers pretend to see them too, until a child yells out, “He hasn’t got any clothes on!”
There’s a modern version of that tale that every woman (and man) should know.
An aging woman, dressed in rags, ambles through crowded streets, feeling invisible, like a second class citizen.
Suddenly, she hears a ruckus from where she just came. Glancing over her shoulder, she sees a little girl, pointing to her in amazement.
“That’s the Empress!” the little girl squeals repeatedly to her mother.
The mother starts to scold the girl until she realizes her daughter is telling the truth. She passed by this disheveled woman many times, but never before recognized her magnificence. A crowd gathers, whispering beneath their breath, staring at the Empress with awe and admiration.
At that moment, the woman in rags realizes she’s not a second class citizen, but a powerful woman who’s been brainwashed since birth to believe she’s inferior. Until this moment, she had been oblivious to that fact.
That’s when the Empress recognized a deeper truth. That little girl didn’t just free the Empress, but all women from the paralyzing premise of female inferiority.
The two versions represent the basic differences between men and women: For the most part, men walk through life, assuming they’re competent, everyone knows it and they feel entitled. Women assume they’re less than, everyone sees it, and we feel unworthy. While men fearlessly assert their power, we fearfully project it onto others (often men).
Here’s what we can learn from this all too-true fairy tale:
When women finally own their power and magnificence, both women and men will be liberated to be their authentic selves.
Where do you give your power away? Leave me a comment below.
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