You know that phrase, “never meet your heroes”? Well, if your hero happens to be Trisha Yearwood, completely ignore it. She is amazing.
This is my third (and final!) post about the Women at Zynga event I was part of Monday which resonated with me so deeply I’ve had to take a few days to share everything!
Trisha Yearwood was exactly as down to earth and badass and plain spoken about what’s right and wrong as you would hope an absolute queen of her industry would be. She has pioneered an effort to get women played more on country radio, straight up calling out the misogyny and BS excuses for why, say, two women can’t be played back-to-back because supposedly listeners will change the station. “Will they?” she said. “Do you have the data on that?”
Of course they don’t.
We majorly vibed on this whole thing about how those in power say things as absolute facts when they either have zero data on it or the data flies in the face of perpetuating this much bias.
There were so many great things she said, but two stories I need to re-tell. The first was when she talked about how she and her husband, Garth Brooks, decided to combine their tours. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here because I was not taking notes on stage, “If there are any guys you want to bring onto the crew, just let me know.” And she said, “I do have a few guys, and they’re girls.” Her point was how important it is to hire badass underrepresented talent when you have any power if you have any real desire to change your industry. It starts with you.
This story was even better. Well, better in that it was so poignantly relatable, if infuriating. We were all asked about you keep going in those moments when you aren’t feeling super confident. Trisha said that she’d blocked something out that came to mind suddenly when the question was asked. Back in 1991 when “She’s in Love with the Boy” rocketed up the country charts hitting number one—the first time it would happen to her and the first time a female artist’s debut reached number one. In a country music history-making rocket ship of a year, she was nominated for an award and knew exactly what she wanted to wear: A sparkly spaghetti strap gown that would be reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe entertaining the troops. Some girls dream about their wedding dress one day, clearly Trisha had been dreaming about this moment.
She was about a size ten at the time and she felt amazing in the dress and she won. It was a magical night for a burgeoning superstar. And then someone from the label called her agent and said, “Don’t ever let her show her arms in public again.”
Her response was everything we know—intellectually—that is so very wrong with that comment. And to tell that guy to f— off. But while she verbally dismissed it. She also didn’t go sleeveless again for more than 10 years.
Everyone in the audience audibly gasped but every woman in the audience also knew this phenomenon well. You can intellectually dismiss a lot of gendered, unfair criticism but it still climbs into your psyche and nags at you. This is how we get whittled away into nothing. This is why girls stop taking risks. This is where body image obsessions come from. And on and on. (It reminds me a bit about this discussion on our site.)
It’s worth checking out Trisha’s new song “Every Girl In This Town” which is about many things including coming back from adversity. One of her favorite bits is this:
“Every girl in this town is somebody’s daughter,
An angel, a devil, no matter what they call her,
If they try to hold you down under that water,
Just come up baptized baby, let it make you stronger.”
She put a picture of herself around the age of six on the album, with her arms stretched out wide. The age she said when young girls still believe they are invincible.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Is there any good way to give feedback to a job when you’re leaving?
- Board Member Ladies – up for an interview of your career journey?
- Has anyone tried “nesting”?