As 2016 comes to an end and we reflect on the events of the past 12 months, the amount of work left to do can seem overwhelming. Now more than ever there is a need for positive change, and there is no better way to start than with a few of these little feminist New Year’s resolutions that can make a big difference. Instead of pledging unrealistic, sweeping goals for 2017, this year keep it small — by committing to a couple totally manageable gestures, you can help both yourself and the world.
You may be worried about the years to come (especially the next four), which is why investing in these promises is so important. If you feel helpless, frustrated, or down about recent events, use the changing of the calendar as motivation to jump start your activism and positive attitude. Reinvesting in your commitment to promote equality (and staying hella woke) is actually not as daunting as it seems; in fact, these little resolutions may be easier to pull off than promising to "floss more often" or “eat healthier.” The time for broad self-improvement resolutions is over. Before the clock trikes midnight, read through this list, and help make 2017 the year of the Feminist... because sometimes the smallest efforts can have the greatest impact.
Here are a few little resolutions that can make a big difference for women everywhere.
Psst! Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017 starting Jan. 1. Right now, tweet @bustle about how you plan to make 2017 the best year yet. Use the hashtag #2017IRL, and your tweet could be featured on our app!
"Feminist," that is. Identifying as a feminist means believing that women deserve the same opportunities to succeed as men. There should be nothing radical or scary about the notion of gender equality, so let's embrace the "F" word proudly.
2. Point out inequity where you see it, whether at work, with friends, or online. I know it can be super awkward to bring up, but as we saw in this election cycle, silence can be mistaken for complicity.
3. Think about the words we use to describe women and girls. Make an effort in 2017 to compliment other women's strength, intellect, and personality instead of their looks or clothes. (Not that there's anything wrong with telling someone their outfit is amazing — but there's more to a person than just their fashion sense.)
4. Resolve to be yourself to the fullest. Remember — you're awesome!
5. Volunteer your time to empower the next generation of women. Check out organizations such as the American Association of University Women or Step Up Women's Network to learn how you can get involved.
6. Own and celebrate all your successes over the following year. Modesty has its place, but excusing or belittling your achievements will not help you excel in the future. Go ahead, brag a little!
7. Remove the people who hold you back and do not support you from your life. If this is too difficult, make an effort to cut down on communication with toxic persons.
8. Don't second guess your intelligence or your choices. Confidence is key.
9. Volunteer or donate to a local women's refuge or rape crisis center or hotline.
Share your experiences with other women.
11. Embrace your mistakes in the coming year, and try to think of them as learning experiences. People will appreciate the transparency.
12. Set up a recurring donation to women's right groups and reproductive rights advocates such as Planned Parenthood and the Center For Reproductive Rights. It's going to be a long four years, and there may be some tough fight ahead.
13. Try not to stress about what other people are thinking, and concentrate on yourself and your wants and needs.
14. Do physical activities that make you feel stronger — whether that's running a marathon, picking up archery, taking a dance class, or lifting weights.
15. Sign up for a self-defense class, and bring some friends along too.
16. Only smile when you want to, not when someone tells you to.
17. Help beat the gender pay gap by being open about salary, do research on averages, and find out where you stand compared to male colleagues. Again, transparency is key for moving forward.
18. Give yourself a pep talk every morning before work. Need some help coming up with what to say? This pep talk generator from Babe Vibes will give you all the confidence you need.
19. Pledge to trust in your instincts and follow your intuition.
Start working together on a project you are passionate about.
21. Observe how traditional gender roles and expectations play out in your life and how they may manifest in your romantic relationship. Do you always do the dishes? Always cook dinner? Are chores shared equally? What's the deal with all that body hair removal? There's no need to accept that things have to be a certain way, maybe it's time for a change?
22. Set aside time for self-care.
23. Accept compliments if they make you happy.
24. Think about how your place and privilege affects your position in society. Try to promote intersectionality, and be an ally or advocate for all those oppressed.
25. Nurture your close friendships.
26. Register to vote, if you aren't already.
27. Get out to the polls for local elections, as well as for the mid-term elections in 2018. Champion the candidates who are progressive on the causes you believe in.
28. Get out and protest. Let your voice be heard.
29. Call your state representatives and add your name to the concerned citizens list.
In both America and the world.
31. Support the work of marginalized creators in the arts. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and so many more — read their books, see their films, and acknowledge their messages.
32. Do not apologize unless you mean it. Break the habit of overusing the word "sorry."
33. View your relationship status in a positive light — even if your family keeps demanding to know why you're still single over the holidays. In the words of the great Salt'n Pepa, "It's none of your business!"
34. Find moments of zen and focus if things become overwhelming, whether through meditation, yoga, or mindfulness.
35. Call out mansplaining, because who really has time for it anyway?
36. Pledge to be a better listener.
37. Make eye contact, even if it is easier to look at the floor.
39. Do the Bechdel test on the movies you watch. In order to pass the test created by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, a film must have at least two women in it who have a conversation about something other than men. Check out this list of films that fulfill this criteria.
Don't let anyone pit you against each other. We're all in this together!
41. Instead of focussing on supposed "flaws," love your body as it is.
42. Speak to older feminists and learn about the history of the feminist movement and their feminist ideology.
43. Cut off your support for clothing or makeup brands that sexualize and objectify women's bodies in their ad campaigns. Try instead to invest in companies with a body positive mission and which promote diversity of all kinds in their campaigns.
45. Build yourself up, don't put yourself down.
46. Speak up when you notice anti-feminist behavior.
47. Invest time in some self-reflection and seek out a counselor or therapist to help you explore your feelings.
48. Avoid negative language when talking about your body or those of others.
49. Don't give into negative social media, and avoid getting bated into fights online, no matter how justified you point. That's what the unfriending option is for.
In both the country and the world. It's easy to normalize the events of 2016 and slip into old habits, but we need to stay ever vigilant moving forward to make actual positive change a reality.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
Images: Hannah Burton/Bustle (3); Bustle (6)