It’s essentially Amanda de Cadenet‘s job to be around badass women—to interview them, support them, and empower them to continue doing what they do: keep the feminist momentum going.
The British TV personality hosts the buzzy interview show The Conversation—with everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Hillary Clinton—and launched #Girlgaze last year to promote the work of creative women in photography and filmmaking. So when the entrepreneur-slash-cool girl writes a memoir—aptly called It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women—about her upbringing (including her wild child days as a 15-year-old TV talk show host in the UK), which explains how she got to where she is today, my ears definitely perk up.
De Cadenet was a teen mom, she went through a high-profile divorce (from Duran Duran’s John Taylor, back in the ’90s), and she’s dealt with every kind of sexism you can imagine, so you can’t help but be intrigued by her own path. I chatted with de Cadenet about the lessons she’s learned along the way, why girlfriends are so important, and her hopes for a more accepting society.
Here, de Cadenet shares the key to finding true self-confidence—and keeping female friendships going strong.
What was it like revealing the deepest secrets of your life, past and present?
De Cadenet: Daunting, but after that initial feeling of revealing so much of my personal experiences, I discovered that it really is cathartic to talk about what you’ve been through, especially when it’s messy. I truly believe that by sharing our stories, our experiences, our heartbreak, and our achievements, we can begin to heal and support others who are going through similar things. And I know this because so many of my readers and viewers tell me!
What did you learn about yourself as you wrote It’s Messy?
To believe that I can achieve what I set out to do. This was an idea that I had written down on a Post-it and pinned up in my office as a sort of life goal or a “bucket list.” I wanted to write a book. After looking at this in the midst of all my TV series, launching #Girlgaze and raising my children, no matter how impossible it felt to take on more, I still was able to achieve this through persistence. So I guess it has taught me that, yes, I can do what I set out to, even if it’s super messy (which it was).
If women are to take one major lesson from reading the book, what should it be?
I think women will resonate with different aspects of the book depending on where they are at in life. But don’t be afraid that your life doesn’t look like the curated Instagram feed you are following. No one’s life is perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist, everyone goes through it. My book, I hope, will make a messy life more acceptable.
How can women come to terms with mistakes they’ve made in their lives?
Shit happens to everyone—there are always going to be challenges that life throws at you and no matter how hard you try not to, everyone is going to make mistakes. It’s time to accept this reality and forgive yourself for being imperfectly human. Every “misstep” has taught me a much-needed lesson. I am actually grateful for every single one of them and you can be, too.
Why do you think women should be “women’s women”?
There is no question that there is immense power in the collective female voice. You only have to look at the Women’s March in January to see that. For us to have a decent shot at equality, we must set aside any old programming that tells us there is only room for one of us at the table. We must recognize that we can’t move forward towards a more equal and just world without the support of each other. If we don’t have unity and equality within our gender, how can we expect to have it anywhere else?
What’s your number-one tip on maintaining female friendships?
Time—the one thing we’re all lacking. Let your ladies know you love them even when you can’t make it to that girl’s dinner you said you would attend.
Where do you think the societal views on body image are heading?
There’s a move towards inclusivity, which is much needed. But I’m not sure if that’s just a fad or if it will stick past a couple of seasons. I’m happy to see so many different representations of beauty—I just hope we continue to recognize that beauty really does come in all shapes, sizes, and skin tones.
How do you gain true self-confidence?
By completely committing to knowing yourself and looking at who you are through the lens of brutal honesty. Then analyzing what is working and what isn’t. Find tools to help you rid yourself of the self-defeating patterns and beliefs, and work on developing the traits which are serving you well. This, of course takes time—so much time. But that’s okay. At some point of this process, you’ll get to work really, really hard to change, and through that struggle comes a compassion and acceptance of yourself that in turn builds self-esteem, slowly but surely. There are many ways, but this is what I have found works for me.
Another secret to building confidence? For this woman, it was—surprisingly—shaving her head. And these are 9 career confidence rules that all successful people follow.