I was speaking to my mother on the phone the other day, and in the middle of our conversation, she told me, “Paola, se yon fanm vanyan ou ye. Mwen pa pè pou ou non. Mwen pa pè pou pitit fi’m nan paske se yon fanm vanyan ou ye.” Translation: Paola you’re a strong woman. I don’t ever feel afraid for you. I don’t ever feel afraid for my little girl because you are a strong woman.
I didn’t really respond, or I probably said something stupid like, “Uh, huh.” But it really brought a big smile to my face. I grinned from ear to ear because I’m glad she thinks of me this way. I know her story, and although a big part of it remains untold, in her own way, she is an example of a Fanm Vanyan.
I look up mostly to strong women, not just women who are considered beautiful. To me beauty is not just external, and if as a woman, you have made a positive difference in other people’s lives, you deserve my respect. And if I am reminded of as being a strong woman over anything else I may be, then I have accomplished my goals.
I believe that all women are strong. Most of our strength is mental, and with that, we can achieve so much. We can go through hell and back, and no one will really know. They see more smiles than tears. They hear more joy than sadness. We can cross so many boundaries that people from outside won’t even know what we had to do to get to where we are. All women are a Fanm Vanyan, some just don’t know it, and that’s why it’s hard for them to keep moving forward.