What It Means To Be A Woman Today

Since it was Women's History Month in March, I was inspired to ask women of different ages and colors the same question: “What does it mean to be a woman today?”, hoping to get a cool, different perspective from each of them. In addition to interviewing them, I took their portrait, mainly focusing on their eyes. I tried to highlight each woman's eyes in the set because I feel that alone can tell their story.

Coby Foreman, 17
"Well, to be a woman today, it’s not like the past, but it’s still kind of the same thing. There [are] still women being treated like [they were in the past]. Women’s rights [have] kind of [risen] up but not like how much it was before. I watched a TV show, Nightline. It was about like children, girls. So, there's this girl from some Asian country and she was sold to this place to become a prostitute, and she was only seven years old, and it made me think what like, how women are treated today because women are still not treated respectfully."

Denesha Aikens, 17
"To me, [being] a woman means [having] all of your stuff together, basically. Make sure you have this, make sure you have that, always make sure to be independent and be on your own today. There [are] so many women today that have their children and they don’t have their fathers or anything, and women always have to take care of themselves and their children, have their own jobs, and still be able to maintain everything."

Francine Sandell, 61
"Well, I think women now are more independent. They don’t really depend on men like in the past [when] they just stayed home, did the housework and then even if they weren’t happy, they would just stay with the man because they didn’t have any skills . . . Nowadays, women are more independent. They have skills, they can even make just as much as a man and provide. I mean, [a] family situation is always the best, mom and dad. Unfortunately, a lot of people get divorced, and I think that’s because they have that choice. Before it wasn’t really a choice. That’s why I think being a woman now is better, and probably women in the future [are] going to be even better."

Isabella Papadimitropoulos, 15
"[Being a woman today] means that you have so many possibilities that you didn’t have back then.  Like, we just saw Hillary Clinton trying to be president-- the first female president of the United States of America. I feel like today we have more opportunities than we did back then. That’s what I feel like."

Jade Brooks, 15
"Not letting society keep women from reaching their full potential."

Keilani Manzano-Anderson, 17
"You have to be independent, strong-willed, and not [care] what anybody thinks."

Misha Lawrence, 18
"To me, it means embracing myself and, like, embracing who I am and not letting a man tell me what it means to a be woman."

Sandra Ralat, 38
"Hoy día en el mundo que vivimos, la mujer tiene más valor que anteriormente y (eso) significa ser mujer. Si tengo que escoger dos palabras para describirla utilizaria elección y luchadora. Podemos elegir lo que queremos hacer; puede elegir entre ser madre, esposa, tener una pareja, en la carrera profesional que quieras elegir para dedicarte a eso. Luchadora porque la sociedad exige a la mujer muchos roles y en tope a eso, la mujer nosotras mismas nos exigimos muchos más."

"In the world we live in today, women have more courage than before, and that’s what it means to be a woman.  If I were to choose two words to describe women I would use choice and fighter.  We can choose what we want to do; we can choose between being a mother, wife, having a partner, choosing a career in which [we] can dedicate your time to, and fighter because society requires women to have a lot of roles, and on top of that, we, women expect much more out of ourselves."

Sandy Webb, 55
"I think it means it's a very empowering time. I think all around the world, women are figuring out how much they can shape the people around them, and the environment, and how much they can make a difference. Despite what happened in the last election, I think that women are very, very strong. But I think it's also a different kind of strength, traditionally, than what the ‘traditional men's strength’ is. I think we have a very loving, empathetic strength. And, we can give life. So, to me, it's not just being in charge. It's looking around and being able to take care of things and take care of other people. Women have a definite, cool perspective, you know. You hear men talking about ‘oh, I’m in touch with my feminine side’ . . . I think we can influence anyone, wherever you are on the spectrum between men and women, somewhere in between, whatever. I like that feminine side, so, to me, it means strength, caring. It means loving other people."

Sarah Igarashi, 17
"I think that society’s idea of [womanhood] is definitely evolving. It’s a question that I’ve asked myself, and I’ve kind of like questioned my identity as a woman. But, I think that if you identify with sort of this feminine ideal, I guess, then that’s how people define themselves as women and that’s how people discover that they are women, whether they're cisgender or not. Personally, I think that what you were assigned at birth doesn’t really have any relevance to your identity as a woman. I feel like if you identify yourself as a woman, and that is how you feel empowered as an individual, then that makes you a woman, period."

Vanessa, 40
"Ser mujer significa muchas cosas. [S]omos versatiles y capaces de todo. Ahora, mas que nunca, la mujer ya a tomado otro rol en su vida. Ya no tan solo somos esposas, madres o amas de casa. Ahora somos, empresarias, lideres y profesionales entre otras cosas. Somos poderosas."

"To be a woman means many things. [W]e are versatile and capable of everything. Now, more than ever, women have taken another role in their lives. No longer are they only wives, mothers, or housewives. We are entrepreneurs, leaders, and professionals, among other things. We are powerful."

By Alanis Santiago-Rodriguez


  1. this is such a good read i feel so inspired ; also- francine?? SO CUTE

  2. i love the latino represention, great piece!