When she was an actress, Meghan Markle celebrated her financial freedom by throwing herself a party. Specifically, a "Sayonara Zara" party, according to Vanity Fair.
The unapologetic pride rooted in her celebration of making it big is an empowering message to working women everywhere who are too often expected to be self-effacing.
Once upon a time, before Prince Harry wooed her, Markle was a commoner just like the rest of us.
Her parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, got divorced when she was just six years old, and she lived a "normal" life with her mom, a yoga instructor and social worker. She was a self-described "theater nerd" at Northwestern University, and worked a number of odd jobs before making it as an actress. She covered travel, food, fashion and beauty on The Tig, put out a collection with Canadian clothing brand Reitmans, worked on Deal or No Deal and even made extra money doing calligraphy, according to Good Housekeeping. She eventually went on to become a famous face on Suits.
But it still wasn’t all glitz and glam to land her leading role. At one time, she was so strapped for cash, she couldn't afford to get her car fixed and, instead, drove from audition to audition climbing from the front seat to the trunk just to get out.
However, when the now Duchess of Sussex became a rich actress, she "gave away the lower-priced clothes in her closet to her guests" at her "Sayonara Zara" party, Vanity Fair reported.
For guests who don't necessarily boast a net worth of a cool five million, the celebration is an inimitable occasion. Free Aritzia, J.Crew and Asos that fearlessly feminist royalty has worn — that's a steal.
Markle's soiree powerfully defies prescribed gender norms that penalize women for owning their successes.
A wealth of research shows that women feel just as confident in their abilities and leadership skills as men, and what's become known as the "confidence gap" seems to be a classic case of mistaking the symptom (women's apparent "inability" to self promote) for the cause.
That's that women are guilted, shamed and even invalidated when they tout their own hard work. Because, in doing so, they violate societal expectations of femininity, which makes other people feel uncomfortable. They're also hesitant to promote themselves because they're conditioned to feel bad for dismissing or alienating less-successful people, research says. As such, women tend to carry on working in "intentional invisibility," seldom taking credit for their own work and often facing what researchers have called "imposter syndrome." The imposter syndrome is when women internalize their accomplishments out of fear of being exposed as frauds, concerned that their achievements aren't valid. And to add fuel to the fire, society has little faith in women's success, anyway, often asking men to win and women not to lose.
So, I feel feminist pride for Markle showing pride in herself. That said, the party name is an unofficial dig at fast fashion.
And it negates the experiences of most women who can't afford to wear clothing worth thousands — those of us who deem Zara a splurge or, frankly, prefer it (even if only for the origami trousers). While she shouldn't have to suppress her enthusiasm so those of us who are out there blissfully wearing seven shades of the same Zara knit (or wishing we could afford one) don't feel bad, Markle's newfound wealth shouldn't be considered a standard of success.
After all, women of Markle's age (35 to 44 years old) earn, on average, just $877 a week or $45,604 annually, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A head-to-toe Zara outfit could cost close to an entire week's pay or more, which is isn't feasible for everyone. And that's okay (barring the blame the gender pay gap takes).
Markle should celebrate her accomplishments. And we might want to follow suit. Or not. I'm not here to tell you to "lean in," knowing the aforementioned consequences.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.