Business 17 May 2018
Whether it started with Kris Jenner and her family of reality TV stars turned millionaires businesswomen, or whether it began with the cringey home workout VCRs of the 80s, the era of the celebrity turned entrepreneur started many moons ago, but has significantly evolved over the last few years.
With the advent of social media, more influencers, be it actors, models, reality TV stars, singers and so on, have side hustles. If their public profile is big enough and their social media thriving, you can guarantee an eagle-eyed business partner has approached them, or they themselves approached a venture, with their social profile as their big backing.
What has emerged from this trend is indeed an interesting cast of both entrepreneurs and activists who have decided to capitalise majorly on their public profile and put it to use, either monetarily or for social change. This month, The Wall Street Journal launched their first "Future of Everything Festival," and amongst a plethora of significant speaker themes was that of the uber-celebrity, utilizing their fame for things other than club entry and free merch.
Jessica Alba at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Zimbio
Amidst an impressive lineup of entrepreneurs, activists, celebrities and CEOs, the festival kicked off with a very provocative female lineup in the beauty and wellness category. Among those we heard from were Tata Harper, Natalie Mackey, Bobbi Brown and Jessica Alba.
It was Alba's talk that perhaps stuck out the most. Here she was, an incredibly beautiful mother of three, who has seen her fair share of Hollywood, and had garnered a name for herself, when she discovered that acting simply wasn't going to cut it, because of well, diapers.
“Outside press, people were just like what the heck? An actress creating something substantive? That was surprising,'' said the entrepreneur, who founded The Honest Company in 2011. She, like so many others, had discovered a problem, and decided to solve it, which resulted in the creation of her business, when she created a subscription service for diapers after her and husband Cash Warren ran out late one night.
Alba who on top of branching out of her acting career, has also begun championing women in the workplace. While relaying her investment story, she pointed out the irony of middle-aged men informing her about her targeted female demographic, and how she decided there was an actionable way to change such a conversation. Two years ago, she found herself as one of only three female executives at the company out of nine, and has since created a programme with her head of HR, called WELL, Women Excelling in Leadership and Living, which prioritizes women's mental health and home life, while aiding them to get to where they want in their careers. "The living part is something that I think is cool," said the founder. "You have to hang onto your wellness and your mental health. That matters, your home life matters. Being a whole person is the person that we want to come to work everyday."
Amber Tamblyn at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Zimbio
Tamblyn, a familiar face for all Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants lovers, is a vocal feminist and founding member of Time’s Up. Since her early days of acting, she has branched out into poetry and is preparing to release her first book, Any Man, which revolves around a female rapist, next month.
Tamblyn's chat focused predominantly on the need for discussion and debate on the current state of feminism and women's standing in this country. “It’s important that we maintain dialogues, and not monologues about the conversation,” said Tamblyn who was championing the need for both liberal and conservative feminism that is so often neglected when discussing the likes of #metoo and Time’s Up.
"Nothing is going to go back, we can only go forward. It doesn't mean that it's not going to be extremely difficult, but it does mean that it's on its way. The wheels are now in motion,"
-Amber Tamblyn"I think for instance when we look at the elephant in the room, which is [that] over 50 percent of white women voted for Donal Trump in this last election, [sic] how is that possible?" she asked. "How is it that there's such a state of [sic] Stockholm Syndrome that these women don't even understand that they're ultimately voting against their own self-interest?"
Sarah Jessica Alba at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Wall Street Journal
An animated Tamblyn continued to remonstrate about the ramifications of such an important appointment, and how, in order to avoid a repeat dismal chain of events the election set off, we need to start having difficulty conversations with these women who are Trump supporters now.
Funnelling this spent energy into her writing and books -one of which took nearly six years to write- her new novel spins the "typical" rhetoric and behavior of serial male rapists and focuses instead on a female rapist, which Tamblyn posits, will give us cause to talk about the ramifications of the flip side, something which recent series and characters have done a great job depicting, read; Villanelle in Killing Eve, or Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Parker, who began her entrepreneurial journey with fragrance "Lovely" back in 2005, and more recently released a collection of shoes, is another active member of Time's Up and proponent of women working. On the subject of her (many) businesses, noted that she's exceedingly happy when she looks around and finds herself surrounded by women. While her partner in business may be a man, a large portion of her employees are women. "I was mentored by women, that I admired, who allowed me second and third careers outside of being an actor," she said, and is evidently using this mentorship mentality to pay the success forward.
The former Sex in the City star is no stranger to activism either. It was in March of this year that Parker and 15 of her Hollywood cohorts formed a female power group to approach Andrew Cuomo about women receiving sub-par wages in the service industry. In an effort to highlight the plight of female servers -who make up 70 percent of the sector- Parker has been and will continue to be very vocal in her quest to gain equal pay for these workers who are by and large underrepresented in media coverage and beyond. She's now working with ROC to shed more light on this matter. "It's my responsibility, and... it's a privilege. I think, because I was always surrounded by women that did that naturally as well," she noted.
"There's so much about being a low-wage worker in this country that's unacceptable, that keeps people marginalized,"
-Sarah Jessica Parker
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."