"I don't shine if you don't shine.” This is the basis of "Shine Theory" coined by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow (co-hosts of the popular podcast Call Your Girlfriend).
"Shine Theory" is the practice of valuing collaboration over competition with other women. It's a mutual, intentional decision to invest deeply and richly in one another. This idea is based on the belief that perhaps there's more to be gained from sharing, lifting one another up, and working together than in envy, jealousy, and competition.
This isn't to say that all competition is bad. There is such a thing as healthy competition, but as women and especially African-American women, we've been made to erroneously believe that there is only room for one of us at the "top". This faulty belief has led to a "crabs-in-the-bucket" syndrome -- pulling each other down, fear of other's success and insecurity in our work and friendships.
Believe it or not, there is room for us all to shine, and when we lift each other up, celebrate our successes and truly collaborate for the growth of one another, magic happens!
Since I've been working in natural haircare, I do experience this. While I love rocking my natural, gorgeous curls, I understand that not every African-American woman feels the same. Some women don’t want to wear a natural style. Some love weaves, wigs, braids, and protective styles. Some love chemically enhanced hair. Some love traditional afros. And that’s okay. I want to encourage you to break down the barriers that you see in your everyday life -- especially barriers between you and other women of color. We need to rise up together if we’re ever going to make big changes happen culturally.
Here are ways to embrace "Shine Theory" in your everyday life.
Embrace mentorship: Build relationships amongst your peers. We're often looking for mentors, but there are people right in front of you with whom you can share, grow and learn. Reach out to find a mentor and reach back to mentor someone else.
Build your tribe: There is no growth without trust. Find a way to start building deeper connections with acquaintances who are on a similar journey to yours. Whether that journey is motherhood, pursuing a career or following your faith and spirituality, connect with people who are seeking the same things you are.
Share your resources: "Shine Theory" is different from networking because it doesn't seek to gain or leverage skills. It’s based on selflessly lifting one another up for its own benefit. In this vein, we encourage you to share what you know with those in your circle and help them grow without expecting anything back.