Being part of a community of women has been instrumental in some of the biggest and fastest moving, life shifts I can remember. The learning I took from the initial course that created the community, has created undeniable changes and the gratitudes I hold for having met the women I now class as friends, will never leave. That being said the founder of that community has fucked it and left so many of us reeling with grief and disappointment as it became apparent the company no longer aligned with our values (or indeed, their own stated values).
We were taught 'you are enough’, ‘do the thing’, to ‘say what you think’ and ‘show up as you are’, but when we did, somehow it was not good enough. Unless you’d secured a big pay rise or impressive promotion. For those of us making slow unquantifiable change, we didn't make for good marketing fodder.
I have been part of this community of amazing women since 2020. I have shouted about, praised and supported this community. I have worked for them, loved, idolised and raised the company. In September last year, I left my favourite community due to the silence of the founder. An article was shared on LinkedIn a few months before, in it I recognised behaviours and ways of being treated that resonated with my own experience both as a member of the community and as a freelance employee. It was obvious to some of us which company the article was referring to.
We waited patiently, giving the founder the benefit of the doubt on their silence. Eventually, a month or so later, a statement appeared in the community that was woefully inadequate. This was the day I decided my time was up in that place of support and friendship. I wrote a heartfelt farewell post before deleting my account; that post was deleted half an hour later by the company. I had the privilege of deactivating my account but many others were kicked out along with more deleted posts and comments (posts were being deleted before this but not to this prolific extent), basically any posts questioning the actions of the company, looking for clarity, or expressing concerns. We were also blocked from social media channels, no longer able to access some of the IG Lives we had participated in.
I have decided to share my leaving post here in my own blog space so it can be read by those who missed it. I have edited out any reference to the company for fear of legal action being taken against me, this is not unfounded as the company in question have been waving around threats to those who have emailed them asking about the situation.
Posted on the 15th Sept 2023
“I have loved this place for 3 years. Full on, all consuming, love. I’ve loved every supportive bone of you. I’ve made friendships I’ll keep dear for years to come. I’ve convinced people to join the community. I’ve sold the product with absolute conviction in its message. Since day one I have been all in. This community has had my heart and soul. Week after week I have shown up and given my time for free hosting my favourite thing. Every event I have been there with my support at the ready.
Over the past year or so I’ve started to see things that didn’t feel right. But I didn’t want to see them. I wanted to believe in this community and the feminist utopia it had promised me. I wanted to believe in what we were building.
I see now that those were red flags I was ignoring and I feel shame. I feel shame that someone else was the first one to speak up in our space; I feel shame that I didn’t call out the ways I saw others’ concerns diminished and dismissed; I feel shame for being part of the problem.
For the last 2 days it has been incredibly hard to watch one disappointing comment after another coming from the company, comments that seem at odds with the lessons we have learned through the course and in the community. I have been curious about this situation for the last month and I have given grace to those I had so much faith in, hoping so hard for a different response.
I have also been curious every time a team member has vanished suddenly with no farewell message or thanks for their hard work; every time a post was deleted; about whose services were being paid for. I have given grace when mistakes were made; when I’ve questioned motives; been ignored; replaced with another shiny thing; when my self esteem was in the toilet.
I am aware that my stance may lose me friendships and that will be their choice, from my part I will always be there for them. But I can’t stay silent and avoidant any longer.
My time in this community is now at an end, and my heart is broken. I love you all you zesty women.
Almost 5 months later and with the support of the community I didn’t want to leave (turns out we’d made pretty marvellous connections that travelled to the outside world) I’ve arrived at a place of freedom. I feel like a Sister Wife who has managed to escape her husband and can say what she wants, be how she dares, express how she truly feels without the judgement of her overlord. A husband I never truly felt wanted to lift and elevate me as was promised within their speeches on lifting other women. Never sharing my work, or giving a supportive word unless there was an audience. In the first few months I was one of the favourite Sister Wives along with a few others, over time we were replaced as were our replacements. The last year I felt like the tiresome Wife who was a disappointment despite all that I did for the household.
It was pointed out to me yesterday, the irony of feeling like the lesser wife when I was the reason many people joined the course and community, including my now friend who pointed out the irony. She joined because of an IG Live session I did promoting the next cohort. My words made her feel like she was in the right place all the while the founder was making me feel like I was in the wrong place.
The main reason I wanted to write this post is because of those very women who joined because of me. I cannot deny the positive influence the community has had on me but 2 things can be true at once and I now regret having had such a big influence on helping the company be the success it has now become; influencing some with low incomes to part with cash for a business that is only out for themselves.
This community has been one of profound growth, camaraderie, deep friendship, and ultimately, in the end, disappointment and sadness. While I cherish the relationships forged and the personal development achieved, I can no longer stay quiet to the discrepancies between the values professed and the actions observed. Leaving this community was not a decision made lightly, and going forward I carry with me the lessons learned from the good and the bad. To those who may find themselves in a similar state of disillusionment, I offer solidarity and support. I remain grateful for the experiences that have shaped me and empowered me to seek out people who truly create spaces for gentle bravery, kindness, and understanding.
(If you see my image in anything related to this community, know that I no longer support their mission and I have not requested the removal of images or text from their website or community as a form of dirty protest, leaving my mark like a dog pissing over those parts that were mine.)
This is my personal white lady experience, there are much deeper underlying issues at play under the banner of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.