Can women buy some empowerment already?
By Evelin Uachave
From the moment corporations and brands realized feminism was here to stay, they decided they might as well capitalize on it. From Dove’s Real Beauty to Pantene’s Sorry Not Sorry Campaign, corporations seem bent on empowering women with the help of lotions, shampoos or pads. But besides making pink razor blades and cute curvier shower gel bottles, how is this new trend impacting the everyday lives of women?
With over 700,000 women serving in combat roles in WW2 and with millions more taking on not only supporting roles for the military, but working as mechanics, industrial workers, builders and clerks, change was eminent. With the end of the war most women realized that they weren’t ready to step back into the pre-war economic structure. The conflict had forever reshaped the social and gender norms and roles in the western world, and this change would lay the social foundations of various civil rights movements that would eventually happen all over the globe.
Few of the movements were perhaps as universal and all-encompassing as Feminism, after all, women did represent half of the world population. Just 20 years after the end of the war, women were no longer trying to prove they deserved access to the same employment opportunities as their male counterparts but fighting and pushing for anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and equal wages.
The feminist movement had gained momentum and women had become independent entities, capable of making their own decisions. With freedoms and access to the job market came the buying power that would revolutionize the advertising sector. Marketing teams now had to cater to a segment of the population that up to now had been largely disregarded. And since Feminism couldn’t be beaten, the brands decided that they might as well capitalize on the movement and join them.
In 1969 Virginia Slims launched one of the first commercials of its kind advertising Virginia Slims. A slimmer, longer and milder cigarette for women. With the tagline “You’ve come a long way, baby” (the tagline would change to “It’s a woman thing” in the 90s), the commercial portrayed a modern liberated woman pointing out that gone were the days when they needed a husband’s permission to enjoy a cigarette. The Virginia Slims Campaign used the movement to sell cigarettes but it also helped mainstream the movement. It took the feminist movement to people’s homes through its TV commercials and more importantly, it made feminism “cool”. It helped define an ideal image of what a modern woman should be throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. And most of the time that image was of a modern liberated feminist who smoked Virginia Slims. Needless to say that the first ad was a huge success and during the next decade everything from the slogan, the tagline and the layout remained the same. The risk paid off and brands realized that whatever feminism could sell, most women would buy.
While openly supporting the feminist movement in the 1960s was a risky move, today feminism has become a much safer cause. The commodification of feminism by mainstream brands just doesn’t bring the same value to the movement. The Dove Real Beauty Campaign despite helping start the conversation about important issues such body image and unrealistic beauty standards, is also selling an idea, an image of what a woman should be, and how she could attain that – in this case a modern woman who is comfortable with her own body and buys Dove products. And while one could argue that’s their strategy is the same as the one from Virginia Slims, it’s important to highlight that they are bringing considerably less value to the feminist cause as whole. And as more and more brands jump on the feminist advertising bandwagon, the value they bring continues to consistently decrease with critics arguing that this type of advertising sells the idea that equality/empowerment can be bought on the shelves of any supermarket in a shampoo or lotion bottle, that buying pink sneakers or a certain sportswear brand meaningfully contributes to the cause.
On the other hand we must consider the alternatives. While some brands are using the feminist cause to drive sales and therefore generate profit, they are still doing it in a more careful manner than for example, GAP’s “Social Butterfly” sweaters for girls and “Little Scholar” sweater for boys campaign which perhaps unconsciously contributes to the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.
As brands try to find means to connect to their audiences, they will inevitably get involved in causes that matter to their buyers. This involvement can sometimes bring substantial gains to the cause that comes in form of donations to charities and organizations supporting that cause or more ethical business practices, or it can result in a “feel good message” and a free keychain with your usual product or service. Either way, something good will come out of it, even if it’s just a conversation over a Dove pear shaped body lotion bottle about how beauty comes in different shapes.
The Tribe’s Exchange
By Claire Kinyanjui
Leading family meeting always starts with Githaka texting our Whatsapp group, “Kindly note that XYZ is leading the meeting on Monday. Have a nice weekend”
The Monday of 11th September was my turn. It hit me on Sunday night that it was indeed my turn. I remember reading that it was someone’s turn, just did not hit me that it was me. In my mind it was Michelle.
Wait.…Let me take you back bit. I am a Community Manager at Brand2d. I have worked at this agency for almost a year. I can only describe it in three words: Best. Experience. Ever. So on Sunday night at around 10pm, I racked my brain thinking about what I would share with the team.
For a very long time, penning my thoughts has always been a stress releasing mechanism for me. Whenever I felt that situations were too much for me to handle, paper and pen were my closest allies. That was it! I would ask the team to write something down. Step one down.
How would I go about this? Step two… I have participated and watched competitions around here and let me tell you, they are quite something. They always get me so jazzed, pumped up and looking forward to Family meetings. However, I decided were not going to do anything competitive. Step two sorted.
Step three…… Departments, departments, departments. We had also never done anything departmental. Woohooo!!!! Done and dusted. The last step was already decided; I would separate the team into the different departments and ask them to write letters to each other.
It all worked out on Monday and these were the teams:
- Social Media & Client Service
- Web & Media Buying
- Operations & Innovation
The challenge to the teams was to write letters to each other; Social Media & Client Service wrote to Creatives (these two teams work together day in, day out.) while Operations Team wrote to the Web & Media Buying Team. In addition to that, I asked the teams to say one thing about every member of the team they were writing to.
The teams exceeded my expectations by far. It was fun, interactive, they loved it and the most important thing is that they learned from it. What more could I ask for. Also, these guys are super creative.
The operations team sang the sweetest remake of Charlie Puth’s – See You Again. (video)
The Web & Media buying team did not mince their words when it came to descriptive words. Linah, our little miss fun size as we love to call her, was described as the punniest.
The Creative team drew up the social media team and turned it into a Facebook post. How relevant.
The Social Media team went in a rather interesting direction and picked out each creative as a superhero. My favorite one, I have to admit was Marcus as the Hulk. He’s quiet and collected but once the creative juices start flowing he’s a beast. That was so accurate, I could not help but smile.
Last but not least, I read out my letter to the team. In not so many words, I said thank you to the family that I have been blessed with the last few months. Words go a long way in making an impact. A person carries them heavily in their mind and heart. Sometimes it takes just two words to uplift someone and that impact stays with them forever. Wherever you are & whatever you do, impact positive words. And play. Never forget to play
By Elizabeth Muthama.
As we grow, we normally learn from typically everything that makes up our surrounding. From our parents, siblings, teachers, and peers. We learn how to read and write, tie up shoelaces, keep our rooms neat, how to react to different situations in the world, how to save and much more. The knowledge and views around us to the greatest extent shapes the kind of people we become. We get the knowledge that laces our conversations, the armory we walk into debates and arguments with. At some point, these ideas cease to be things we picked up from different people and places and become personal truths- our knowledge resource. I like to say that human knowledge is an alloy. An amalgamation of ideas picked from different books, people, and places.
We learn good things, healthy things, life things, financial things, political things. Sometimes these things are incomplete at best and misled at worst. Nevertheless, upon these learnings, we build our knowledge foundation. Worthy or not we continue to build our knowledge structure, brick after brick. So we argue and listen. We read and watch and learn and learn.
In perhaps one of the most unlikely circumstances I have gathered that learning is not all there is to progressing as an individual. Three months ago after staying in a room with a low glass ceiling, I had the opportunity to hit the play button and start a fresh chapter in my life as a copywriter and community manager at brand2d. I had worked really hard and waited for the moment and was exhilarated when it came to fruition.
My first step into this fresh world was loaded with excitement and confidence. The confidence outweighing any other emotion. Why? Because I’ve been a writer literally my entire life. A great writer…debatable…, but a writer absolutely. Written words have been the only way I have known to build bridges across rivers and make ropes to climb over walls. They have offered me the comfort I believe I could not have and cannot find anywhere else. And here I was with a new job that needed me to be good with words, so what could have gone wrong? I don’t know what your guess is but mine was- ‘absolutely nothing!’. I had some experience in my pockets and the hunger of a Kenyan graduate who has found a way out of the unemployment maze.
“I have the biggest part of the equation figured out, so this shouldn’t be so hard” I repeatedly told myself.
I was so high on confidence in my creative writing skills and didn’t know unprecedented waves would send me tumbling down. I wasn’t prepared for most of the surprises and bends down the road.
Writing thirty words to get a customer interested in a product and convert that interest to purchase is different from writing 1,500 words for a creative fiction blog. But the stubborn me insisted that I had it all figured out and that soon my old knowledge in perhaps some fairy dust fashion would turnout to be useful.
In the commotion of holding tight to old knowledge and the rude awakening of the world of digital marketing I learned the value of unlearning. It was a humbling moment of admission that the knowledge I had at hand was from a different world and that I had to let go off some practices to leave room for fresh methods fit for my present world. It wasn’t easy but in the quietness of that humility I loosened the grip on my old knowledge and created room for fresh learnings.
And no, “unlearning is not about forgetting. It’s about the ability to choose an alternative mental model”, Mark Bonchek. David A. Gundersen in an article once said that “a man who refuses to unlearn has not yet learned one of life’s most basic evident realities- we are often wrong. And just like a garden can’t thrive without regular uprooting no human being can learn well without regularly unlearning”.
One more take away from my experience was that, unlearning is not for the proud. It’s a process that promises to humble you can trust it to bring out greater things in you. It requires one to step out of familiar mental models that may be obsolete and no longer serve and choosing a different model; an updated one that works best in the new space and a new time- a process ego will disagree with and defiantly oppose.
The view that companies are places people learn has been popular for the longest time. But that will be hard and perhaps even impossible if unlearning is not deliberate and doesn’t come first.
I still have a long stretch to cover but I can confidently say that watching out for old practices and being willing to let them go and embrace new things has made the run much smoother.
I invite you to probe the practices you hold so dear. Those that inform the decisions you make on a daily basis and find those that no longer serve you and push them down the list to make room for fresh ones. After all, ours is a fast paced world where disruption is perpetually imminent.
How often do you think?
How often do you think about this Nation?
How often do you think about the land that graciously holds your weight each day?
Now you’re having thoughts.
Do your thoughts involve keeping this, our dear Nation, in Prayer?
The elections are around the corner,
Have you prayed?
Have you prayed that we elect Leaders that will lead this Nation to greater heights?
Have you prayed for free and fair elections?
Have you prayed against any bloodshed during that period?
There is something in the air and it is brewing.
Have you prayed for a time with no Poverty?
A non-corrupt, free and prosperous Kenya?
A crime free Kenya?
A Kenya where you can trust the police with your life and not one where you shudder when you see them round the corner?
A Kenya free from terror attacks?
A Kenya that knows no distinction by tribe but one that houses KENYANS?
Have you prayed for the type of Kenya you want to live in?
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
I’ve been trying to develop and maintain some good habits as a way of enriching myself. I read a book a while back that had a list of about 500 good habits you can implement in your life and some of them stood out and I’ve been trying them out with fantastic results.
Let’s start with happiness habits that bring out the happy in you,even on those days when you are on the verge of giving up on everything and running away into the sunset.
- Talk with a positive person when your feeling down or discouraged or anytime.You know those people who seem to be forever in a good mood and happy.The positive energy they emit will rub off on you.
- Write down 3 good things that happened to you each day.
- Ask for a hug from one person a day .I love hugs, they instantly make me feel happy especially when the person means it .
- Laugh, even if you don’t want to. Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets Laughter is the best medicine because laughing releases endorphins.
- Move your body (walk, exercise) for 20 minutes or longer.
- Invest 30 minutes a day doing a hobby you enjoy and find relaxing.
Habits that help you manage stress and everyday frustrations;
- Breathe deeply for at least 2 minutes. Focus on your breaths
- Stretch different body parts for 5- 10 minutes.
- Listen to something calming and distracting unrelated to whatever is stressing you out.
- Cuddle (with a lover, friend or even a pet – physical touch is comforting.)
- Detach from the source of stress (excuse yourself from a meeting, take a break from a project, remove yourself from an argument) for a five-minute break.
- Take a 10 min nap. Power naps are the best
Habits to help you become more spiritually minded;
- Devote 10 minutes a day to reading a spiritual text (Bible, spiritual book.)
- Perform one thoughtful act of kindness for a stranger.
- Join a group of like-minded individuals from whom you can learn and be inspired.
- Write out how a person you encountered that day could enrich your life journey.
Habits to help you increase work productivity;
- Schedule out your day, setting mini goals and milestones throughout the day. Then race against your self-set goals for accomplishing tasks.
- Take a break every hour. Stand up, stretch, use the restroom or get a drink.
- Schedule your toughest task for your most productive time slot (whenever you typically feel your best) of the day.
The talk of Nyeri muratina was all there was every lunch time from the time it was announced that there would be a team building. We were all giddy and to be honest, we just could not wait for D-day.
And then it finally came! We left Nairobi at around 12 something. Tuskers were already flowing before the bus left the gate (& where was the wine for the ladies…SMH)
The drive featured 3 main things, sleeping, lots of laughing and Jemmie’s red hat found its place on a few damsels heads.
We arrived at Nyeri Outspan in the evening around 4 p.m. and it was time to begin the day’s sessions. The venue was quite a surprise, especially this being my first time there. The place had a historical air to it, having been built in the 1920’s. The rooms were massive with English antique decor style to them. The outdoors were just as massive with greenery, perfect for a nice long walk (I wish I had taken one).
The Outspan experience was quite eye opening for me. I saw the different members of the Brand2D team in a very open environment and got to interact with different people and gained a new respect for everyone. I even learnt a new saying (at least I think this one was from that weekend), ‘The grass is greener where you water it”. So make sure you keep watering wherever you are . One last thing, no one is forgetting Frencho’s work out session anytime soon for sure, or even Happy times. It was the BOMB, Curtis, I have to say, you really missed out!
Treetops, on the other hand, was breathtakingly relaxing. Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets If you’re looking for intimate bonding then this is the place. The Sunday morning music was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Soul revitalizing and enriching!
This is definitely a place I want to visit again!
By Wanjiru Lenana.
I have spent the better part of my year (January & February) planning my 2016. I can tell you, it has not been easy. In January, I started putting systems in place to ensure that I attain my 2016 goals. Towards the end of January, all the systems I worked hard to put in place, failed. I started stressing and pulling out my hair (don’t worry; as I write this, the bald patches on my head have started growing back). I spent so many days forcing issues on my plans until I finally gave up.
As soon as I gave up; and walked away from my goals…. I got even better plans. Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets I felt as though I was pushing to get a vitz but I got a Range Rover instead.
Looking back, I notice that I was forcing my own plans and not including God into them. The moment I let go and let God do His thing, I got everything I wanted; and even more.
As humans, we forget to include God in our life plans and we expect things to go according to our plans by force. Something I am slowly learning is; God knows best.
Let go & let God…. It will be okay
By Martin Muranga.
Are you afraid of change?” Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”
The Story of an EAGLE is a great example as to why we should embrace change.
The Eagle has the longest life-span of its species. It can live up-to 70 years. But to reach this age, the eagle must make a very difficult decision!
In its 40th year, the eagle’s long and flexible Talons can no longer grab a prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. Its old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, stick to its chest and make it difficult to fly.Then, the eagle is left with only
two options: DIE or go through a painful process of CHANGE! This process lasts for 150 days (5 months)the process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. Then the eagle will wait for the new beak to grow back after which it will pluck out its talons. When its talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old aged feathers. Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets And after this the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and LIVES for 30 more years!!
Why is Change needed???
In order to survive and live. We too have to start the change process. We sometimes need to get rid of the unpleasant old memories, negative habits and our fixed mind set. Only Freed from the past burdens can we take advantage of the present. If an eagle can make a life saving and life changing decision at the age of 40….why can’t we?
In order to take on a New Journey ahead, let go of your negative old limiting beliefs. Open up your mind and let yourself fly high like an eagle! When it rains, all birds occupy shelter. But the EAGLE avoids the rain by flying above the clouds….problem is common to all but the attitude to solve it makes the difference!
Don’t be afraid of change…accept it gracefully!
Courtesy of Dr. Wale Akinyemi.
By Mark Muchura.
She crossed her arms and blinked repetitively. She shifted in her seat and brushed away imagined dust. She raised her fore finger to her mouth then suddenly thought against it. Looking out from her window seat she determined she was still aways off, slumping back into her chair, frustrated. The sun was already high in the sky. She was going to be late.
Her hair was braided long. Some strands were tinted blonde. She wore a loud “Wham” vest, skinny blue jeans and red low tops. A dark complexion and red lipstick completed the anxious figure that was Carole. She fumbled for a stick of gum in her sizeable satchel for too long. Unsuccessful, she settled to staring at the ceiling of the cramped bus, willing it to move faster.
The man had become part of the scenery. Unnoticeable.
His greyed beard was short. Sagging skin was evident on what once were chubby cheeks. His hands were big, his nails short. The marvin on his bald head had frayed at the edges and the coat he wore was an ode to the 1920’s.
A beaten iron pan sat atop a two brick pedestal he had fashioned so many times before. His mould of wet, black earth had already begun to harden. The holed out centre of the clay smoked with hot charcoal.
He stood, poised, over his creation with a flimsy cardboard sheet and a square mesh of wire. His day was about to begin. No one had noticed.
She finally alighted her crawling transportation and broke into a run. She slowed down to a quickened shuffle to use her phone. She punched in the lock code wrong three times then stopped. She placed the phone in her left hand, shook her right hand, took the phone from her left hand and retried the lock code. The phone unlocked. She called the only number on speed dial and began to jog. The number had no name.
“Haro?” Came back the answer. “Nani priss?”
“Is. It. Available?” She demanded out of breath.
“Haro…em, iko bado lakini ukichlewa-”
She hung up the phone, grit her teeth and sprinted. She’d forgotten to tie her hair up and it flayed about her demon-possessed. She weaved in between the growing throng of pedestrians without losing stride. An especially slow bunch of gossipers forced her onto the main road where she picked up speed again.
From the lazy line forming outside the double doors of the bank ahead of her she knew it was closed and continued on running, crossing to the other side of the road with a blood-thirsty determination. She clambered up the stairs of the El-Roi Plaza one a time, then two. Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets She got to the third floor and twisted right to the last door straight down the narrow hallway.
The hall was dimly lit. The pastel blue paint on the graffiti-ridden walls was almost gone, replaced by a taxing smell that hung brown. A low watt bulb flickered lazily and was little use having gathered very abandoned cobwebs.
She tried composing herself before knocking. She looked for breath, held her stomach and bent over, supporting herself against the peeling door. Another quick tapping of her knuckles against the door still came with no reply so she pushed into what was a tiny room no bigger than her own bathroom.
The desk before her was a rushed design of soft wood, bent slightly to the right. It wobbled each time a stack of papers was moved. Sitting behind it was a stocky woman in an ill-fitting suit. A terrible lavender colour. She barely took her eyes off the shuffled papers when she asked,
Carole sat down still out of breath. She blinked rapidly before she spoke.
“Habari … yako? …. Keja … bado iko?”
“Keja gani?” the woman asked, irritated that she would have to make an effort to be privy to this knowledge. She could not sit up straight in her chair because of the healthy bulge under her stomach. She fidgeted about her seating position and clasped short, fat hands over her belly, sneering loudly all the while.
“The SQ. The SQ. I asked about it yesterday and said I would bring the deposit this morning.”
“Oooo!” Large dimples appeared suddenly. She made an attempt to lean forward but the exercise proved futile. “You a the one? Deposit is six thausant.”
“Is. It. Available?” She was beginning to feel claustrophobic . There were no windows in this cubicle but for a discreet slit no wider than the palm of a small hand at a corner near the ceiling. She felt as though she were in a holding cell.
“Wacha I call mzee. He said he’ll go in the mo-ning”
By two, twenty maize cobs had been roasted and sold. He sat under the shade next to his emptying gunny bag of unsheathed produce.
Mama Felistas brought him a cold plate of boiled maize and beans. She handed it to him without a word as if he were a vacant space on a dining table. She made to smile but instead produced something contorted. She shimmied back to fanning herself on a wicker seat by the entrance of her M-pesa / assorted trinkets shop.
He ate slowly, flicking still hardened maize pellets off his plate. His hands were still black from the charcoal fire he had rebuilt. He watched the burning coals for a long while, almost forgetting his food, his mouth agape, about to drool.
He spoke seldom. And since his wife had made the celebrated ascension to her heavenly home he spoke even less.His was not a life to be dismissed as happiness nor could it be wasted away on a hapless word like sadness. His life meant activity. Even after she’d left him. That activity would only cease to be purposeful unto death. As she had done.
He shot himself back to reality and scoffed down the remainder of his meal. The fire wouldn’t be wasted to the thoughts of the air.
She sat in the PSV as it parked at the end of its route. The parking lot was mostly empty but for the drivers and a number of touts waiting their turn. She was the only passenger left in the vehicle and looked to be in no hurry.
The driver unlocked his door but did not open it. He looked at her quizzically from the rear view mirror, unsure of whether to say something or let it be. He dropped then pulled up the minivans brake handle loudly.
She barely nodded as she slid off her seat and walked away. The sun was already descending over an obscure horizon of buildings, telephone service masts and smog.
An instinctual guide took her down the thin main road past her old primary school and favourite chip shop.
She walked steadily past the swine butcher and Seventh Day Adventists Church with the corrugated sheets for walls.
Plain clothes policemen were loudly arresting someone for selling moonshine and a small crowd had gathered to watch the accused try talk his way out of spending a night in jail. She gave them a wide berth.
She stopped for a second to watch the estate children scream and heckle as they ran around playing football with a deflated basketball.
She greeted Mama Felistas with a flimsy wrist flip and slowed her stride.
She stopped at the pedestal of roasting maize and enquired at the man abandoned in his thoughts.
He noticed her after a long while and readjusted his seating so to accommodate her. She went over and sat next to him. He got up and picked the last piece of browned maize and handed it to her as he sat down again; his back to her. He watched the charcoal send up weak plumes of smoke.
She listened to his steady breathing. Then he sneezed. He’d never liked her choice of perfume.
“Happy anniversary dad.”
He grunted and placed his palm on her forehead. She rested her head on his shoulder and they watched the embers die away.
By Madeleine Musabe .
It is nearly the end of another year and we thank the Lord for the great mercies and graces that He has bestowed upon us. If you sat down and really thought about how much you have accomplished no matter how little it may seem to be, you will realize that you are indeed a winner because you actually made some progress. So why should you give yourself some credit every now and then?
You stuck to your resolutions: Many people make so many resolutions at the beginning the year only for them to be thrown out of the window a few weeks later. If you made a conscious decision to be disciplined and achieve some of the goals, if not all then kudos, you need to give yourself some credit.
You cared for someone: Random acts of mercy can be a very good way to better your life and can go a long way in making you feel good about yourself. They also make others feel appreciated. It is a big sign of strength to go out of your way to help people be it family, friends or colleagues at work.
You grew in your area of expertise: Large Tea Cups Cute Tea Cups Wholesale Vintage Tea Sets Amber Bangle Bracelets Nothing is more fulfilling than positive growth especially where you work. You deserve a bigger pat on the back if you took a decision to help someone move ahead in their career. We are social beings and who are required to help one another advance.
Most of us think that credit is only deserved after doing huge things. Well, I believe that every little thing counts since through the little steps, we come closer to our goals. So throughout the rest of the year, please think about how you can make a difference. It does not have to be huge since it’s the good gesture that counts.