What Was I Thinking?
By ALI CUDBY
“WHY would you write about that?”
That’s a message I got in response to my last She Buzz column. The one where I shared a dark story from my past – a story too many women have experienced, in one form or another.
I was surprised by the message, but I shouldn’t have been. It came from a well-meaning family member – someone I didn’t think read my columns.
Sometimes I forget how many people read She Buzz. I’m grateful for the reminder.
When I got the email, I went through a range of emotions. For a moment, I felt exposed. Embarrassed. Angry. Even scared to have shared something so personal – once it was published, I could never it take back.
Then I thought more about it and realized how empowered I felt when I shared the story. For years, I carried a lot of baggage from that day in Paris. It changed something in me. I thought I – as a child – had somehow done something to attract this grown man’s sexual attraction. I buried what happened in a grim box of dark shame because I believed, on some level, what happened was my fault.
Writing the story and sharing it was like shining a bright light on the truth of that day at the Eiffel Tower. Just like scary monsters hiding in our childhood closets, the fear only exists in the dark. Bringing in the light allowed me to see there was nothing to fear from the truth.
When I got that email, my shame reaction was immediately replaced with a fast and powerful, “NO.”
NO – I will not stay quiet about being groped when I was 13 years old.
NO – There is no shame in what happened.
NO – I did not ask for it in any way.
NO – It was no my fault.
NO – It wasn’t OK to pretend it didn’t happen so the family vacation could go “smoothly.”
NO – It’s not OK to judge my choice to share the story now.
As you go into the holiday rush, it’s worth considering. Learning from a powerful NO can benefit your business.
You are in the business of helping people – mostly women – look and feel better. Some of your work is addressed by the lingerie you put on a customer’s body. But only some. Most of your engagement goes deeper.
When you create safe spaces for women to feel seen, heard and valued a fundamental shift occurs. When women feel safe, they are drawn to you. They become loyal. They feel emotionally connected to you.
When women like the version of themselves they see in your business, they visit more often.
More visits mean more revenue. More referrals. It’s a virtuous cycle.
When businesses set up systems to create the safe spaces women deserve, it’s good for customers and it’s good for business. Everyone wins.
I wish you all a fantastic holiday season and a deeply engaging – and profitable – Black Friday