Women’s History Month

Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”  Who knew? I mean, I was aware that National Women’s Day was in March, but not a whole month about us! 

These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. 

So, here’s my contribution – a little rawer than some may want, a lot more “me” than some may need. But I’m a woman, hear me roar. 

Did you know, prior to 1974, a woman couldn’t have a credit card in her own name? I was 4 years old! That means, in my lifetime, a woman needed a man in order to have credit in this country. What would the credit card industry do without women now? 

But March isn’t just special to me because it’s Women’s History Month. It’s also my “gotcha month” – synonymous with “found you” – for a sister I had never met, and only recently knew of her existence, until March 16 of 2020. Smack dab at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and just in time to not be able to, actually, meet her until more than a year later.

She had been born when Mom was a teenager. I had grown up an only child. My mother was forced to give her away, as part of a post-war movement where society’s opinions mattered more than its children. Where families were “moving on up” and a pregnant teenage daughter wasn’t a good look. These girls were shamed, disrespected, told they were trash and “whores” and, generally, made to feel like sinners. I warned you, this might be too raw.  

My mother, sister and I are currently reading a book called “The Girls Who Went Away.” Even the title is hard to absorb because they didn’t go away, they were sent away – by their own families. It’s hard to fathom the lack of respect for women in the 50’s and 60’s. I certainly wouldn’t have made it back then. I’m too much, too opinionated, too vocal, too me and what I’ve been allowed to be. Never be afraid to be you and never let someone tell you you’re too much. 

Through this reading, and learning, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the rights that I now have as a woman. The right to make history by misbehaving – if I so choose. The right to vote and the right to burn my bra. Let’s be honest, that part I’ve always laughingly prodded my mother about – and I haven’t ever done it. But I love knowing that if I wanted to, I could.

My newfound sister has enhanced my life in ways I could never have imagined. And she’s healed my mother’s heart like no one else could. But what I never imagined was that I’d learn so much about women’s history because of finding her. That I knew so little and only what I’d been told, instead of what I could find. We need to educate our girls and boys. Today, women are pushing for more seats on corporate boards and, less than 50 years ago, they were dependent on their husbands (or lack thereof) for their very livelihood.  

Speaking of women and the impact they make on our country, when you read the cover story about Lisa Holland, you will get it. This remarkable woman is running one of the largest, privately held aviation companies in the country. And she does it with grace and style, unapologetically. You’ll enjoy getting to know her, and the success she’s had, in a male-dominated industry. 

Also, read about Surgeon Rashmi Roy. In this issue, she talks about taking thyroid screenings to the streets. We all know to get screened for breast cancer and skin cancer but did you know, no one is asking us to get our thyroids checked? At a recent women’s event, hosted by Tampa Bay Business and Wealth, 43 of 60 women were screened – 21 had abnormal findings – 13 had to have further evaluation and a full 5 of them, most likely, had cancer. Two of those five were some of my closest friends. We saved lives that day. And Roy is changing the narrative, one screening at a time. 

I hope you’ll celebrate the women in your life and honor them, and their contributions to our society, and our history, but don’t just do it this month. Keep doing it, always. 

With love from here, 

Bridgette Bello

Publisher and CEO


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