In an inspiring speech for Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit, the “Black-ish” star opened up about the way some people respond to her being a 45-year-old woman who is not married and does not have kids.

[I] is really interesting to be a woman and to get to 45 and to not be married yet and to not have kids — especially when you have just pushed out your fifth kid on Television.

I grew up planning a wedding. My dress was going to be corseted with multiple victorian camisoles spilling off my shoulders and I would change into a white double breasted suit with big cuffs for the reception. And then I’d dreamed about being chosen by a powerful and sexy and kind man who had full lips and gave really good hugs. And having a little baby boy. But I also dreamed of winning an Oscar, being on the cover of magazines and making a difference in the world — and helping women find their voices. And from that dreaming I’ve built a really incredible life and I’ve become a woman I’m really proud to be.

And then someone just walks up to you and is like, ‘You know, a friend of mine adopted at 52. It is never too late for your life to have meaning, sweetie!’ And my worth just gets diminished as I am reminded that I have failed on the marriage and the carriage counts.

Me — this bold, liberated, independent woman. I work out, I eat well, I mostly show up to work on time. I’m a good friend, a solid daughter, a hard worker, my credit’s good, I take out the garbage before it gets smelly, I recycle and I’ve won a golden globe!

I mean, I’m killing it! So why do I get snagged this way? As if all that I’ve done and everything that who I am doesn’t matter. And I look back and I think about all the ways that we’re told those two hashtag goals #beingchosen and #havingkids are what makes you worthy. I mean, nursery rhymes, fairytales, books, movies 16 candles, every love song. And even BLACKISH are reiterating this narrow story of husband plus child equals woman. By the way this doesn’t discount anyone who has a husband and a child. It’s just this is my version of the narrow way that I am undermined. By the way it’s not just fairytales and books. The patriarchy. The patriarchy is not pleased with me right now. I am failing at my function. And let me tell you, Mike Pence, but he’s fucking confused by me right now. And frankly, I often get a bit confused.

Here’s something that I’ve done way more times than I care to admit — trying to gather the courage to tell my ex, whom I love by the way, that i want to date other people (even though we’re no longer together and we’re broken up). And during the last bout of doing just that I did what enlightened ladies do and I got out my journal and i’m sitting there and i’m free writing and maybe I’m having a conversation with my inner child, and i write down these words: my life is mine.

My life is mine. Those words like stopped me in my tracks and honestly they brought tears to my eyes. It seems so obvious but obviously it wasn’t because I have not been living my life as if it were on my own. To a certain extend yes, but on a deep level no. So if my life is actually mine then I have to really live it for myself, I have to put myself first, and not be looking for permission to do so. But when I put myself first, what comes back at me, from very well-meaning people, men sometimes, social media, random ladies t the gym, they tell me in all sorts of ways that I’m being selfish, pushy, aggressive controlling, relentless, stubborn, a slut, a nag, oh and my favorite, a ball breaker. Because god forbid a few balls get broken. So when we put ourselves first by doing things like saying no, speaking up, sleeping with who we want, eating what our bodies intuitively tell us to eat, wearing treating bras instead of pushup bras, posting a picture without using face tube, so bold, we are condemned for thinking for ourselves. We are condemned for thinking for ourselves, being ourselves, for owning our experiences, our bodies and our lives.

That kind of boldness is seen as threatening and scary and it’s certainly not what the patriarchy had in mind. So join me for a moment and imagine: What would it be like for women to completely own our power? To have agency over our own glory, our sexuality, and not in order to create a product or sell it or feel worthy of love or use it as a tool for safety, but instead, as a way of being. Imagine that? Truly owning our own power, agency and sexuality. Especially, in this moment, with all that is happening as the pussy grab tree is being shaken and grabbers are dropping like rotten fruit. At the same time as all of that, all the volatility, there’s a surge of empowerment happening. I am trying to gather all of this energy around me and step into it and match that with the realization that my life is mine. My 45-year-old life is mine. And it’s no coincidence that these two forces are meeting at the same time and here I am sorting out what my life looks like when it’s fully mine. And honestly, it takes a certain kind of bravery. It means risking being misunderstood, perceived as alone and broken. Having no one to focus on, fall into or hide behind. Having to be my own support and stretch and find family, love and connection outside of the traditional places. but that’s something that I want to do. I want to be the brave me. The one whose life is my own and that also means I’m going o have to break an agreement that I didn’t agree to sign in the first place — a little document that was drawn up by a bunch of old white guys in a back room — the same group of white guys in the back room who pass laws about our reproductive health and choices without us being there — and that agreement says that we are here to be of service to others, that our destiny as women is to live in the shadow of men, that we are simply objects of desire and that we are wiling to have our voices stifled again and again by the misogyny of our culture.

Well listen here, I’m tearing it up. It’s going bye bye and I am drawing up a new one and my terms are this: I am going to own my experiences and my training bras. I am going to pay attention to the reality of my life and the audacity of my dreams, instead of the explanation of what I was raised with. I’m gonna make space for the good and bad of it and embrace all of the questions. I know that’s how I am going to go from being Tracee to being the brave Tracee. And here’s the good news is that you too can do that. You can go from being you to being the brave you. And you should definitely try it you guys. Because brave and brave you is beautiful. and not beautiful like your hair is all did and your brows are clean. Because when i think of beautiful i think of a tree. I think of seeing a bird soar. I think of an embodied woman. I think of my mom, standing there in the Diana Ross stance — her glory stance — saying ‘this is me.’ Heart open, hair big, sexual, powerful, and full of all of her agency. Beings at the height of their own resonance, their own self-ness, fully in bloom. That’s what bravery and beauty looks like. But most of all, because the brave me reminds me that I am complete just as I am, not in relation to anything else, just wholly and fully me. The brave you gives you the courage to hold your own agency, your own choice, your own desire, your own longings, your own fear and your own future. She’s just one aspect of your soul that helps you become the fully embodied and completely integrated real, true self. And I think she’s in each of you right now. In your journal, in the back of your mind, somewhere in your heart, in your Netflix queue, waiting for your invitation. So I invite you all, if you haven’t already, to let her out. To let her have her glory — this beautiful, powerful part of you is just waiting for the invitation.

You can watch the video on Huffington Post

Lauren Martin
Just another girl in the world...and founder of Words of Women

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