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  • Writer's picturemarti mcginnis

Small Talk, Big Consequences: How Women Belittle Their Art and Why It Matters

So, a couple of weeks ago I found myself in a "women who create" meeting, where I called out one of the artists for her habit of saying, "It's just a little..." when describing her work. I mean, come on, it's not a little anything - it's art! I didn't say anything the first time, but when she kept doing it, I had to intervene. Not that I did a great job of it, mind you, which is why I'm writing this post now.

So let's get into it: ladies, we need to stop belittling ourselves when it comes to our creative pursuits. One of the most common ways we do this is by using phrases like "it's not that great" or "it's just something I threw together" before describing our work. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, my friends.


Another way we downplay our creative achievements is by minimizing our accomplishments. We might not share them at all, or describe them in vague or understated terms. It's like, "Oh, I just finished this huge painting, no big deal." Um, excuse me? That's a very big deal! We need to start acknowledging the value of our own work, even if we're still experimenting and trying new things.

An experimental portrait from my current #PaintedSketchbook

And don't even get me started on how we compare ourselves to others. We see someone else's work and immediately think we could never measure up. But here's the thing - there's no one "right" way to create art. Every artist's journey is unique, and that's what makes it beautiful. We need to recognize that and start celebrating our own voices, instead of trying to fit into some standard of excellence that doesn't even exist.


Now, when it comes to men and their art, they have a tendency to describe it in more confident and assertive terms. Even when they're just playing around and experimenting, they still talk about it like it's the most important thing in the world. And you know what? It is! So why can't we do the same? Well, it's partly because of societal expectations and stereotypes about how women should behave. We're supposed to be modest and humble, and avoid appearing arrogant or boastful. But that's holding us back, both externally and internally. We need to start being proud of our work and confident in our abilities, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.


And speaking of discomfort, let's talk about how we can support each other as women in creative fields. We need to build a community of empowerment and encouragement, where we don't let each other tear ourselves down. So if I hear you saying "it's just a little..." when describing your art, I'm gonna call you out on it. Not to be mean, but to help you see the value in your own work - at every stage of the process! Because believe me, it's there. And by recognizing it, we can help others see it too.


What does it take? All we have to do is break some old habits. Can we agree to stop downplaying our creative pursuits, ladies? Our art is important and valuable, even if it's still a work in progress. By speaking about it in confident and assertive terms, we can help break through the societal norms and stereotypes that are holding us back. And by supporting each other as women in creative fields, we can build a community of empowerment and encouragement that will lift us all up. So go forth and create, my friends, and never let anyone make you feel like your work is "just a little" anything!

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