Culture 02 May 2019
Ready to embark on a new chapter in her life, the newly-wed actress, Priyanka Chopra Jonas recently interviewed three inspiring women who have shattered glass ceilings in their respective fields of work.
In her half hour YouTube special "If I Could Tell You Just One Thing," Chopra sat down with Simone Biles, Awkwafina, and Diane Von Furstenberg to ask them about one piece of advice that has made them the women they are today.
The Quantico star first interviewed Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast to date, and asked her about her experience dealing with the expectation to always be perfect. Biles expressed that dealing with people's expectations has been the hardest part of her career thus far. "I feel like if I don't meet their needs then I failed," she confessed. Even after winning four gold medals in the Olympics, Biles was hard on herself after receiving criticism for only winning a bronze medal.
Biles credited therapy for not only helping her deal with the pressure she has been constantly put under by the world and even herself, but for also having helped her heal as a victim of sexual abuse from her then coach, Larry Nassar. Despite the hardships she faced coming out as a victim of sexual abuse, Biles did not regret her decision. "I feel like I'm a stronger woman today and I feel like telling my story has helped younger girls," she expressed.
When Chopra asked her what her one piece of advice would be, Biles said "If I could say one thing it's risk-taking." Taking risks has helped her realize who she was as a person and taught her more about herself.
For her next interview, Chopra met up with one of her favorite stars, Awkwafina, who most recently starred in the box office hit, "Crazy Rich Asians." Awkwafina shared that despite her success, she hasn't felt like a different person because of it. She stated, "When you think about going through such an immense change in your life, you think that everything is going to change but the truth is you're the same person, you're just going through different things."
Curious as to how Awkwafina's comedic nature developed, Chopra asked the star if her talent grew from a place of hurt. Awkwafina confessed that after losing her mother at a young age, she used comedy as a defense mechanism to prevent people from seeing her as an "emblem of sorrow." She wanted to make people laugh and feel joy. The comedian also confessed that another thing she has struggled with throughout her life has been people categorizing her under the typical Asian stereotypes of being quiet, shy, and fragile.
When asked what her one piece of advice would be, Awkwafina offered up some words of wisdom that her beloved grandmother had given her. "Life is only a series of ups and downs. When you go up there's nowhere to go but down and when you're down, there's nowhere to go but up," she said. They are words that Awkwafina not only finds to be relevant to her life today, but are words that she has and will continue to live by.
For her final visit, Chopra stopped by the home of famous designer Diane Von Furstenberg, to talk about life, love, and success. After getting married, starting a business, and having a child at age 22, and another child the following year, life seemed to be perfect for Von Furstenberg. She described the love between she and her then husband as being "very sweet," but believed that part of the reason why the marriage did not last was because she wanted something more. "I wanted a man's life in a woman's body. That was my dream," the designer confessed.
On the topic of getting older, the designer stated that, "At my age now, I want to use my voice to tell all women that they, too, can be the woman they want to be...'Cause I've never met a woman who's not strong. They don't exist." Despite being a strong woman, Von Furstenberg admitted that she still has days where she doesn't feel on top of her game even if the world sees her on top. However, she finds solace in knowing that life is simply full of ups and downs.
When Chopra asked what her one piece of advice was, Von Furstenberg said, "The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself." Working on that relationship comes before your relationship with anyone else.
Despite how much success these women have achieved, they have still endured their share of hardship battling sexism, stereotypes, and unrealistic expectations. Although their lives have been vastly different from one another, their overall message is the same—work on loving and owning who you are, take risks in order to become the woman you want to be, and know that life will drag you down sometimes, but you will always stand up stronger.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.