Feminist Feature: Amanda Gadsden
Amanda Gadsden has been my best friend since 5th grade, where we met in Orchestra class (#StringLife). In our more than decade long friendship Amanda has not only developed the best skincare routine on the planet, but she has been a fearless and relentless empowerer of all people in her life. It is physically impossible to walk away from spending time with her without feeling amped to take on the world. She has been at every photo shoot that has ever happened for Feminist Goods Co. including taking pictures with me, just the two of us, in sweltering heat so that I could launch products. She sees the world exactly as it is and has a knack for knowing just what to do or say to help her people deal with it - and thrive. Amanda is truly truly a force to be reckoned with and I couldn’t be more excited for you to get to know her.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and how you got there!
My name is Amanda Gadsden, I’m 28 years old, and - though we are few and far between - I am a native Charlottean. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I also have a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Analytics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I truly enjoyed my time at UNC-Charlotte…but I will bleed Carolina blue until the day I die.
I currently work as a North American marketing analyst for Barings, an asset management and financial services firm headquartered here in Charlotte. My role involves setting strategy and executing on marketing plans that support our regional sales and investment teams. My journey to this point in my career has included a LOT of twists and turns, jobs that left me exhausted and unfulfilled, and countless sleepless nights spent wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. What I know for sure is that God really does work in mysterious ways, that there’s no one way to get to where you’re going, and that (as cliché as it sounds) everything does happen for a reason.
What do you do to stay sane during this presidency?
That’s a great question, and I’m honestly not sure that I am staying sane! Habañero Hitler has the intellectual capacity of my bathroom doorknob and the temperament of my four-year-old niece’s imaginary friend – the fact that he’s the President of these United States blows my mind EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s become increasingly difficult not to exist in a state of constant rage, but what sincerely gives me hope is that so many people are being moved to action. We saw historic voter turnout in this past midterm election. Congress has seated the most diverse governing body in its history. Men and women across the country are using their collective voices to impact real change in their communities. I choose to hold onto those glimmers of hope, even on the days when I feel immeasurable despair.
I think many of us are struggling to find a balance between staying informed and protecting our mental and emotional wellbeing from one racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic/regressive story after another. Sometimes the best thing I can do for my mental health is to simply disconnect from the news for a day or two. Other times I find it helpful to decompress with family or friends. The one thing I am very clear on is that complacency is a luxury that none of us can afford. Take care of yourself during this time, in whatever way works best for you, but we also have to keep doing the work to make sure we get Toupee Fiasco the hell out of here.
(And if all else fails, there’s wine. So much wine.)
Is there someone in office right now you identify with or look up to? Who? Why?
I think Kamala Harris is one of the most intelligent and most capable lawmakers of our time. I think her expansive policy knowledge and firm grasp on relevant social issues makes her a unique and formidable force in Washington. Also, her ability to read people for filth without disturbing a single softly-coiffed hair on her head is just…masterful.
I’m also really excited about the incredible new congresswomen that have just been sworn in – Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lauren Underwood, among others. I think they are uniquely positioned to make a real impact on our political landscape and I can’t wait to see what they’re able to accomplish.
Talk to us about therapy - how to get started, why it’s important..! My personal policy is that it’s the best investment anyone can make in themselves!
You’re absolutely right, it is! Therapy is easily the best decision I’ve ever made for myself, but it was also one of the hardest. I think the idea of “self care” is becoming a cute buzz word to advocate for spa days and Netflix binges - please don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of both - but the process of truly caring for the self requires real work that many of us have not yet prepared ourselves to do. That was certainly true for me – I talked about going to therapy for years before I actually went, simply because I wasn’t prepared to do the emotional work that I knew it would require.
My experience with therapy is still relatively new, but I’m always happy to talk about my journey because first and foremost, it’s vitally important to eliminate the stigma of going to therapy. I try to be as open as possible about my experiences because we have to get rid of the notion that therapy is something to hide or be ashamed of. On the contrary, I believe there is something quite noble about having the courage and the self-awareness to seek help. Therapy is forcing me to face myself in ways that I’ve never had to before – and it’s not easy. It’s easier to focus outward when thinking about why we are the way we are. It’s much harder, and much more painful, to acknowledge the ways in which we, ourselves, have stood in the way of our own happiness. It’s impossible for any of us to go through life without experiencing something – or a few things – that shake us to the core. In many ways, I think of going to therapy as giving yourself permission to heal.
Everyone’s journey to finding a therapist will be different, and the criteria that are important will differ from person to person. For me, I knew that I had to have a Black female therapist. So many of my experiences have been shaped by my existence as a Black woman, and I knew that I needed a therapist that would understand me at that level. Those criteria helped me narrow my options fairly quickly, and then I narrowed down further by geography, each therapist’s specialty, and which offices accepted my insurance. I always encourage people to start with Psychology Today – in my opinion, it remains the best resource for finding qualified therapists in your area.
What are you reading? Books, news sites, blogs etc.
Right now I’m reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, which is quickly moving up the ranks of my favorite books of all time. The authenticity of her story resonates so deeply with me – it’s almost hard to put into words. I’ve also recently read The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, which is a great psychological thriller. After Becoming, I’ll be starting on Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I’m always open to new reading suggestions, so holla at ya girl if you have any!
What is your favorite female founded or run company?
Ummm…Feminist Good Co. Duh. Oh, also Spanx.
What is your protest slogan?
“Screw it, I’ll do it.”
– Black women
What does Feminism, or being a Feminist mean to you?
Feminism should, above all else, center on inclusivity and intersectionality. For so many years, women of color have largely been excluded from feminist movements, and the unique challenges facing Black women and other minority groups have been dismissed or ignored. As a Black woman, my approach to feminism requires helping people understand the realities of being affected by multiple systems of oppression and injustice at the same time.
To me, feminism means committing to causes that affect women across all races, ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations, and socioeconomic statuses. It means elevating the voices of those who are marginalized and underrepresented in this country. It means working to dismantle oppressive social, political, and economic systems. It means exercising autonomy over my body, and fighting to ensure that all women have the right to do the same. It means demanding accountability for pay inequality, sexual harassment, and human rights violations. It means challenging other feminists to not fall silent – or worse, become defensive – when faced with the unique challenges facing minority groups.
Feminism means honoring, celebrating, and empowering other women. It means pushing ourselves beyond the social, cultural, personal, and professional boundaries that society has placed on us. It means using our circles of influence to create positive change. In essence, it means fighting for the freedom to live our fullest, most authentic lives.
Where can we find you online?