Biz Ownership is Not Pink, Sparkly, or Pretty

I just want you to know something.

I’ll begin by saying that, while I’m not a particularly masculine/tomboyish lady, I’m not a super feminine female lady either… I do love shoes and purses and shopping, but I also love football and sweatpants and a beer on occasion. I cringe at the bright pink Barbie aisle in Target and my bedroom is most definitely NOT something that Anna Nicole would have approved of.

That said…I realized something as I was talking to my family this weekend and my friend Doniree last night- why are SO MANY business groups for women pink-washed, just like the month of October? It’s like “Yeah, we want to empower you to be successful women by infantalizing you with words like pink and glitter and pretty!”

I know, I know, it’s just words. It’s just rhetoric. But seriously? Enough is enough. That whole glass ceiling thing? Isn’t moving fast enough, and something tells me it’s because it’s covered in pink, glitter, and a whole lot of ruffly tulle. (There’s a place for that, and it’s called ballet class.) I’m a business owner. My friends like Doniree, Erika, Jessica, the other Jessica… they’re all business owners. Funny thing is? None of them (as far as I know, and if so, we need to have a chat, ladies) belong to groups like “pretty in pink business owners” or “mommies who biz” groups. Frankly, it’s demeaning. If you want to mention that it’s a group of women who own businesses, fine. The gender color division tends to happen naturally, I suppose… but really? Using terms like pretty, pink, sparkly (yup, I’ve seen em all) to describe your business collective? That doesn’t tend to inspire a whole lot of confidence in the business accumen of the groups within.

Owning and running a business is FREAKING HARD. In the last year, I’ve learned more about law, accounting, technology, coding, time management, people management (ok, I’ll be honest, anger management), and taxes, than I ever though I’d have to… and my business isn’t in ANY of those fields! Thing is, there’s nothing pretty, pink, sparkly, fun, or particularly attractive about the nights I’ve spent at my computer, cussing at a storm, trying to learn tax law, balance my checkbook, code a website, transfer a site to another host (asdkfhskdjfh.) or even just get my laundry and groceries done while on a deadline. But that’s part of running a business. And I don’t even have a family to juggle. Can you imagine how much more difficult it is for people who actually have other human beings to be responsible for? They can’t just say “not now, honey, I’m busy with my pretty sparkly business, no time for you!”

Sure, there are AWESOME moments. I have a sticky note from my aunt, whose OBGYN office I designed a logo for, hanging up on my wall, telling me what an awesome job I did. I have an email from a recruiter at Google asking me for more samples of my writing (yeah, that happened). I have happy clients who refer me out and it makes me do happy dances. But owning a business is hard work. Why color it– for lack of a better term– anything other than it is? Women owning business are doing an amazing thing. Femininity is awesome too…I just feel like business groups are the wrong place for it if we’re ever going to get equal footing to “run with the big boys.” Instead of downplaying our accomplishments in the business world like we’re prepping for a pageant, I personally feel like we should be building it, and each other, up!

So fess up, biz owners- who else is bugged by this? Do the pretty pink biz groups out there bother you too, or have you found others that are more serious and to your liking? Are there Carrie Bradshaw out there who’ll tell me to take the Manolos I (admittedly) wish I had and shove em where the sun don’t shine? And I’d love if you shared some great groups — facebook, linkedin, even real life — in the comments. I’m always up to network, both with lady business owners AND male business owners!