shine theory

Shine Theory

While I was tidying up my place for a week using the KonMari Method (you can read about it in this blog post), I harnessed my boredom moments by listening intently to podcasts throughout my activities. I had a lot to catch up on since I was so busy the first half of this year so I had plenty on my queue. 

I finished all of it. 27 Radio Lab episodes, 13 This American Life sessions, and 11 Stuff You Should Know blurbs. IKR? Counting all of that makes me feel like I overdosed in one way or another but it feels good to be 'caught up' on the stations I subscribe to. I was now up to date.

But then the terror swept in. I wasn't done tidying and needed another podcast to listen to. Marie Kondo, the author of the book I was using to tidy my apartment, forbid me from watching TV episodes throughout the process so I was panicking even more. I googled, sampled, and even tried out some of Apple's podcast Top Charts list as well as their Featured list. My heart was into nothing. I took a pause from tidying and even went for a walk while testing out some more podcasts. 

And then I took a chance on CYR: Call Your Girlfriend. Two long distance besties who met in Washington, D.C., live in different cities, and take time to talk to each other once a week on all things politics, Beyonce, feminism, current events, technology, and so much more. After listening to their pilot episode, their voices and reasoning over debatable opinions became addictive and oh so refreshing. If you have not yet listened to this podcast, especially if you are a lady, I guarantee you will love it. Well, I suppose it depends on where you fall on a spectrum of topics, but if you have any respect for women in our generation and workplace, you will gladly find yourself saying, "This is true. I agree." or "Wow. I never thought about it like that." throughout the episodes.

These girls have it. I don't even know exactly what it is but I feel as though that they understand what it means to talk about topics that are ever evolving - especially the hard ones that deal with feminism and every perception that exists when the delivery of a political message/opinion is unsuccessful or successful. They're funny, smart, and incredibly sharp as they articulate their thoughts throughout each episode. Their agendas are also sprinkled with lots of pop culture which keeps things interesting and entertaining. Any podcast that can talk about Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a.k.a. the Notorious RBG) and then riff on Kanye and his artistic troubles will always have my ear. 

The greatest reason why this podcast should go down in the history books is because they have introduced Shine Theory to the world.

So, what is it? It's this simple.

"I don't shine if you don't shine."

Although this applies to a lot of situations, genders, and identities, this theory is spoken directly to women in the workplace. I will be the first to say that we have desperately needed it.

Personally, this has opened my eyes and committed my heart to pursue remembering and acting on this theory throughout everything I do, but I am so glad that it is aimed at the context of us ladies while we work. I have seen countless amount of times where women have done the opposite - almost as if they were saying, "If I don't get it, then you can't either. Over my dead body." I have worked with and known women who think this way and it is exhausting. It's also really easy to absorb this misery and become the perpetrator of the same kind of actions - misery loves company and revenge is sweet for a reason.

But even if it were somehow possible to objectively evaluate all of our female peers against ourselves, it’s worth asking why we’re spending all this time creating a ranking system in our minds. When we hate on women who we perceive to be more “together” than we are, we’re really just expressing the negative feelings we have about our own careers, or bodies, or relationships.
Here’s my solution: When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.
- Ann Friedman, Call Your Girlfriend: Thesis

What I love about this theory is the fact that not only is it absolutely true (proof is in the plethora of other theories that are along the same lines but aimed at different contexts), it's the first time that there is actually a thoughtful theory by and for women to help other women direct their behavior in a positive way. When something is theorized and solidified as an actual thing to philosophically take into consideration, it pulses in its radar and beeps until it is acknowledged and either agreed to or rejected. It also helps that Taylor Swift's squad goals are heavily marketing this theory IRL. 

because true confidence is infectious
because powerful women make the greatest friends
because people know you by the company you keep
because we want the strongest, happiest, smartest women in our corner

- Call Your Girlfriend: Why

I guess all I can say is THANK YOU Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. You have both created a platform for ladies to choose to be a part of and identify with which is more than comforting. 

UX Notes: Although Shine Theory is used mainly for women in the workplace, the reason why it exists at all is primarily because women in the workplace are a minority population that is struggling to find a voice and seeking to appropriately navigate its growth for years to come. The UX discipline is new and also a minority population in a lot of contexts - especially in large corporations and places where the word 'design' is still cringe worthy. As much as we want our UX discipline to solidify itself, have a backbone, and be the answer to the very many problems that exist out there (because it is that great!), let's partner with those who think of us as rivals and use Shine Theory towards them. More likely than not, they are probably Outsider UX folks and you may find that you have more in common than you think.