It’s not easy to do in a world where women are viewed as complete, and as adults, when and only when they have a husband and child. Ross is incredibly successful — starring in the hit show “Blackish” and having her own J.C. Penney clothing line. Yet because she also happens to be 45, single and child-free, she constantly has to field questions such as: Oh, you just haven’t found the right guy yet. What are you going to DO? Why is someone like you still single? Have you ever thought of having kids? Why don’t you just have a kid on your own?
Apparently winning a Golden Globe doesn’t preclude a person from the kinds of comments and judgments that regular single people get all the time. When she hears these kinds of questions, Ross says it’s “as if all that I have done and who I am doesn’t matter.”
So what did Ross do about it? She wrote those words — my life is my own — in her journal and started living by them. Which means putting herself first, and, as a result, risking being called “selfish, pushy, aggressive” or worse. Ross defines putting herself first as: “Speaking up, sleeping with who we want, eating what our bodies intuitively tell us to eat, wearing training bras instead of push-up bras, posting a picture without using Facetune. . . . We are condemned for thinking for ourselves and being ourselves . . . for owning our experiences, our bodies and our lives.”
If that’s selfish, sign me up. What would it look like to put yourself first in your life, where you’re already your main squeeze? It’s a framing that women are rarely taught. And we’re finally seeing new examples of it every day. Ross goes on to say that women putting themselves first means that they’re speaking up against the untenable conditions in their lives, such as the flood of harassment and abuse allegations currently coming to light.
Ross admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out and that it’s not always easy. But it’s inspiring to see her road map, which can help other women figure out what it might mean to take control of their lives.
“It takes a certain bravery to do that,” Ross says. “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 having to stretch and find family love and connection outside of the traditional places. But I want to do it. I want to be the Brave Me, the real me, the one whose life is my own.”
At Thanksgiving gatherings, if you get diminishing comments about your single status, sit your well-meaning relatives down and have them watch her speech in full. It just might shut them up — and help them see what it’s like to be on the receiving side of those inquiries.