I don’t look prettier when I keep my mouth shut

One of the filters I had to put on to survive.

Since I was a child, I’ve always heard a saying in Spanish that reads something like: You look prettier when you’re quiet. My dad told me that once, I heard it from close male relatives, on TV, and even at school (#SpoilerAlert I studied at a catholic school). It was part of my 90’s Venezuelan childhood formation. The first social filter I learned.

At that moment, I learned that:

A quiet girl looks prettier.

Time passed, and I studied Social Communication. As a woman and an intern, those filters that taught me to avoid inconveniencing others by standing out in the wrong way intensified. I just focused on doing my tasks, learning, remaining undetected, and looking pretty. (WTF, Why should I be quiet to be pretty? Is that the only thing a woman should aim for?)

I encountered, once again with a reloaded version of that same filter:

A quiet undergraduate looks prettier.

After graduating, I started to work as a scriptwriter on an online TV studio and soon became Content Director. This promotion at 24 led me to manage a team and to have decision-making conversations with older males than me.

Surprisingly, to keep that position, I had to work three times harder than the rest of my male colleagues and to remain silent when they made sexist jokes about me or my other female colleagues. I had to awkwardly smile and nod to their jokes to avoid being perceived as too sensitive.

Then my moment to migrate arrived, and I had to quit that job, which made me feel relieved to leave that sexist environment behind.

Once again, society was repeating to me that same filter on its 3.0 version:

A quiet professional looks prettier.

I moved to Mexico, where I started my career in the advertising agencies industry. And how surprised I was (not really) when I encountered another misogynic environment, where we as women had to put on many filters to survive.

Mansplaining, harassment, Imposter Syndrome, and sexism were some of the many red flags I encountered on my professional path. Ironically, I was working at a disruptive place where concepts for brands, politicians, influencers, and media were bred. Agencies where social paradigms were studied and molded. #EpicFail

Feminism came to teach and save me from oppression, literally.

One day, the stars aligned, and I learned more about feminism. Thanks to that encounter, I could name some violent behaviors in my life, relationships, friendships, society, and even myself. Filters started to crumble and fall. (feminism 1 – patriarchy 0).

As a result of this feminist enlightenment, for the first time, I could realize that the You look prettier when you’re quiet filter has been tacitly imposed on me to fit society’s feminine stereotype.

  • I thought women’s social mission was to be pretty and silent; instead of making the most of our talents and qualities. Why didn’t I ask who the fuck imposed that rule?
  • When decisions had to be made, men only consulted between them. Why did I remain silent?
  • If I co-worked on a project with a male colleague, and he felt the freedom to take all the credit. Why didn’t I raise my voice?
  • If I was just sitting there at a meeting and not allowed to share what I did for a project. Why didn’t I reclaim the credit?
  • After being told that we as women can’t work together without being in conflict. Why did I believe that was true?
  • After knowing the salary gap benefits men over women. Why did I feel asking for a raise was too much?
  • When dressing codes recommended women not to show too much skin. Why did I think that was normal?
  • Why did I have to shut up after receiving unsolicited comments or inappropriate glances from a client/boss/colleague?

The answer was clear: because of the sexist and heteropatriarchal socialization, my dear. 💅 

Normalizing all those situations that menace our freedom of expression, and solely focusing on fulfilling our misogynic duty and beauty standards is violent.

How many filters did I have to put on to fit?

I don’t think the allowed characters in this platform are enough to describe them.

We were brought up to be housewives, the caregivers, the ones that raise the children, the ones that must look good all the time (if you’re not, you’re not trying, and there’s something wrong about you), the ones that must be rescued by a prince charming (because we can’t take care of ourselves), the ones that are girlfriend material, the ones that________. (you name it)

And how did that happen?

Mainly because we were erased from history, told to behave in a certain way and not question anything. Our mission was to follow orders and stereotypes.

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”
-Virginia Woolf

#NoFilterNeeded: Sorority is the answer to patriarchy and filters.

Divide to rule is a great tactic to beat free-thinking, the key tactic of patriarchy against women. If we can’t communicate and keep seeing each other as enemies, we’ll never empathize, meet each other, and understand that we are not alone in this systemic violence. We are together.

The sorority is the key to becoming women without filters. By seeing ourselves as sisters that share the same burdens, we’ll be able to break the molds and the rules that prevent us from being free and authentic.

Since I’ve incorporated sorority into my life, I’ve created more healthy connections with other women in my path. And I’ve been able to stop seeing them as competition and instead as a force to open spaces in the places we deserve to shine. (fuckU patriarchy & not in the FuckUp Nights way).

If we organize ourselves properly, we all can win.

Having allies is essential to living a life without filters and having more safe spaces to be free. People that can join us and let ourselves be authentic.

Sharing our experiences (and failures) matters because that’s how we can raise awareness about the type of environment and workspaces that we have. It makes a difference to exist in places where your needs are taken into account! It is possible. 

Solutions to this problem are as simple as complex (hey, God, it’s me again). For instance, expressing our needs and considering others, setting healthy boundaries, and being our most authentic self.

Let’s use resilience as fuel to revolt, and let’s share ourselves in safe spaces, vulnerable and unfiltered for all!

Edited by Ricardo Guerrero

Meilyn Lima

Meilyn Lima

Mkt & Comms

Woman, migrant and feminist. Mei spends much of her time creating digital content with a gender perspective. And the other part she spends trying to understand life and society through alternative experiences. :extraterrestre:  IG: @feminidad.relativa