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.
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.