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After side-by-side photos of supermodel Kendall Jenner and astronaut Alyssa Carson went viral on Instagram — as an account put the two alongside each other to discuss society's fixation on women's bodies rather than their brains — one young woman is setting the record straight by illustrating that "girls can do both" with photos of herself (above) in a bright red bikini and working as an engineer.
"I'm tired of girls getting put into boxes. GIRLS CAN BE ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING WE WANT," 29-year-old Caitlin Sarian wrote on her Instagram account in response to what she had seen on the @worthfeed. Now, after receiving attention from thousands in response to that message, Sarian explains to Yahoo Life just why she wanted to recreate the image that she had seen with what she says is a "more positive message" attached to it.
"When I first read the post, I did appreciate it, it had some merit in it. The sense that beauty is often more prized than brains is very true in this day and age. But then I thought, why were two successful women put up against each other? And why does it have to be one or the other?" she recalls. "I wanted to show that a woman can be comfortable in their own skin and be a model while also being an engineer. I took a photo in a red bathing suit similar to what Kendall Jenner was wearing and then used a photo of when I used to work at the Chevron oil refinery as an engineer. I wanted it to represent that one girl could be both, that we don’t have to be one or the other, beauty or brains."
The post garnered thousands of likes from people who agreed with Sarian's message, in addition to responses from people who had similar thoughts. And although Sarian didn't necessarily expect so many people to see her post in, she wasn't surprised that the message had resonated.
"I feel like many girls are raised to believe that they can only be good at specific things. We are put in boxes by society. You either have beauty or brains, super girly or super tomboy, good at math or good at english. And for a while I believed this," she shares. "I truly didn’t know who I was or what box I fit into. I was a college and professional cheerleader while having my masters in engineering and depending on who I was with, I had to play one role or the other. It wasn’t until this past year where I realized, I can be both."
Sarian even admits that she was reluctant to share her post for fear that she would "rub women the wrong way." By the looks of the responses, Sarian's message was a necessary one.
"I can’t even begin to put into words how much that viral post bothered me," one person commented, referring to the post on @worthfeed. "Why were two successful women pitted against each other in the first place?! It made no sense to me and just a reminder of the constaaaaannnnnt battle women face to be this or that when we can be whatever we want."
"We should celebrate women breaking barriers in many ways," another wrote.
Sarian adds that it's most important to do so during Women's History Month, especially.
"I truly believe there needs to be more women positivity and encouragement on social media. Especially women supporting and pumping up other women," she says. "If you are a women, never compare yourself to others but rather support and cheer on other women for their accomplishments and focus on the amazing things you bring to this world."
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