Personal Development

On Standing Up For Yourself

Written by: Zanita Whittington

Something I picked up around my mid twenties, don’t waste your time taking anybody’s shit.

It’s really a lesson in being blunt and speaking your mind – and for me it stemmed from being ripped off in taxi’s and dealing with inappropriate comments men. I won’t accept that.

When I was younger I did – because frankly stepping in and standing up from yourself  can be pretty terrifying. It’s been a really important part of my own personal growth. I’m not talking about abusing someone for cutting in line (though a firm comment doesn’t go astray there) but a ‘no-doormat’ policy is an incredible valuable philosophy.


Take for example this photograph. It was incredibly challenging to get a good shot here because in most of the images I’ve got a pretty stern expression. Basically – if you stop moving forward with pace at any point in the Duomo, someone is going to approach you and get up in your personal space and try and sell you some useless shit. It’s generally annoying, but pretty easily handled with a wave and a ‘no thanks’. Anyway – this one dude comes up to me while we were shooting, trying to sell me some dried corn to feed the pigeons. I give the obligatory gesture and “no thanks” and he gets right up, way too close – and throws the corn all around our feet so we’re swarmed with pigeons (not my favourite animal) and I’m getting pretty disturbed.

“Please go away.”

I’m terse. So the next thing that happens is, he throws the corn full pelt at me, and it stings. ‘Bitch!’ he yells at me. Rising fury.  My first instinct was to call him a list of expletives I won’t be posting on this site. I almost yell, “You really need to respect people and grow some manners!”.

missoni-top-and-other-stories-glitter-skirtIt was enough for me, even if it’s not something that’s not going to get through to him. By the way he felt he could get so close with me (cue creepy smile) I could tell he wasn’t expecting me to be someone who would stand up for themselves, thus the aggressive reaction from him. Maybe I could have handled it better (any advice?) – but standing your ground is always more satisfying than being harassed (and maybe taking a bit of dried corn to the thigh).  I feel like once you practise it a few times, you’re never going to get ripped off knowingly and it feels great to have a new kind of power in that self confidence.

Being taken advantage of stems from our fear of being rejected, making us feel vulnerable and clouding our judgement. Sometimes it’s over something that’s more important than corn and pigeons, like bullying in school or the workplace. What it comes down to –

Teach people how you want to be treated.

It’s essential to find a good attitude, so you can then find the strength in a positive way to respond in a way that’s most helpful for your situation. You don’t want to view yourself as a victim, rather own and take command of the situation #ladyboss. Being rejected, laughed at, harassed or taken advantage of is always going to be so more more painful than finding the strength to take steps against it.

Anyway, when I figured this out, I was able to confidently handle some pretty complicated situations much better and it’s been great for my conscience. Hope this helps some of you consider how you approach these kinds of situations… even if it’s just about finding the gumption to tell your neighbour to please turn down his music!

On another note, our extremely talented contributor Ben Orkin is nominated for House and Leisure’s Rising Star of 2015. At 17 years old, Ben has already achieved some incredible things and he’s absolutely brimming with talent. I would love if you could go and vote to support Ben because he absolutely deserves it! PLEASE VOTE FOR BEN HERE 


shirt, Missoni

sparkling min skirt, And Other Stories

bag, Furla

watch, MontBlanc

sunglasses, Celine

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