Remarks by Kathryn Finney

Kathryn Finney speaking at 2017 Commencement

Remarks as prepared.

Many moons ago, I went through this period where I dressed bad. Horrible. I’m dating myself, but this was during the period of ’90s grunge and I took the concept of grunge and ran a marathon with it. I had a flannel shirt in every color. Every. Color.

Now there was reason for my horrible sartorial choice. While it might not be apparent from my Twitter account, I’m actually a bit of an extroverted introvert. I was trying to hide. I thought by dressing horrible, I would draw attention away from myself.

One day, I had a particularly bad outfit on. And my father, who was a true “fashionisto” — the guy got his jeans starched, who does that?— had had enough. So he pulled me to the side, looked me in the eye, and told me, “You are a big girl. You walk into a room and people notice you and there’s nothing you can do about. So give them something to look at.”

As women, we’re told to make ourselves small, to shrink, to become invisible so our presence doesn’t offend someone or take up too much space. We think that by being small, by being less than who we truly are, that the very fragile egos of others will be preserved and protected. And we will be safe. That they will be safe.

I’m here to tell you that you do the world, yourself a great disservice by making yourself small. No matter what you do, your true self will shine through, even when you try and suppress it.

So give them something to look at.