To say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a force to be reckoned with is an understatement. As the youngest woman ever to be elected to the American House of Congress, she’s created history, broken glass ceilings, and become an inspiration to every little girl who one day dreams of holding a political office.
However, when she’s not busy campaigning for gun control or pushing for universal healthcare, Ocasio-Cortez is a regular millennial. She goes through the same challenges as all young professional women, and her Instagram account is a masterclass in ‘the personal is political’.
There are a lot of reasons why millions of working women see themselves in AOC, as she’s better known. Here are a few that really stand out to me:
She knows what it’s like to be broke:
Unlike baby boomer politicians who don’t know what it’s like to be a twenty-something in a broken economy, Ocasio-Cortez understands the struggle of trying to make rent every month. She’s a former bartender who’s still paying off her student loan debt, and like most of us, loves a bargain. Her financial disclosure forms revealed she only had about 7k in savings, and once elected, she spoke of how it’d be tough for her to find a place in DC till she got her first salary. While conservative political pundits have tried their best to ridicule her financial situation, her forthrightness has only served to make her all the more relatable to so many millennials who, more often than not, have too much month at the end of their money.
She believes in self-care:
Sometimes, the only thing that can make a bad day better is a sheet mask and a good book — and Ocasio-Cortez agrees. In late 2018 she spoke candidly about how she was taking a week off for self care to repair the toll campaigning had taken on her. In a refreshingly honest Instagram story, she addressed the guilt a lot of working women feel when they take time out for themselves. Highlighting the sexist scrutiny faced by women, she said “It’s not okay that women subconsciously perpetuate unequal burdens for generations, just because we’re made to feel guilty if we don’t. Notice how much of this guilt is self-reinforced and internalized via social norms.” For women who work long hours — maybe even care for a family — taking time off can feel like too much of an indulgence, even wrong. Which is why Ocasio-Cortez’s words are both important and immensely comforting.
She deals with workplace sexism like a boss:
Just like every woman who’s been in the professional world, Ocasio-Cortez knows what it’s like to deal with unwelcome remarks about her appearance and capabilities. She’s been subject to right-wing misogyny and trolling for everything from her fashion choices to her intelligence ever since her election win, and her response to this negativity has always been on-point. Perhaps the most famous instance of this was late last year, when a male journalist tweeted a photo of her (without her consent), saying “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.” Ocasio-Cortez responded in her typical positive yet sassy style, ending her tweet with “Dark hates light — that’s why you tune it out.” Relatable? Yes. Inspirational? Definitely.
Moral of the story? It’s time for us to elect leaders who represent our experiences — who take politics out of the seemingly impenetrable corridors of power and bring it into our lives. And if America can do it — so can we. Because now, more than ever, Indian women need fiery female leaders who can show them that women can work their way to the top, make their voices heard, and change the world.
I spend my time consuming fizzy drinks, smashing the patriarchy, and avoiding excessive human interaction.