Hands up in the air if you’ve ever made a ‘pretend’ acceptance speech in your living room, holding a hairbrush and telling your fans how much this Oscar means to you?
Whilst that hairbrush (we mean award) plays a vital part, what is most significant is the acceptance speech. Nailing an acceptance speech takes all kinds of effort, energy and talent.
For one, you have to address an entire room of watchful eyes, battling nerves to ensure you’re every word is heard. You have to be humble (nobody likes a ‘drop-the-mic’ show-off do they?) but thankful, also remembering to thank everyone you know, to ensure nobody gets offended. Plus, you need to address the crowd with words that resonate with every soul in that room, leaving your mark and spreading love, inspiration and joy to every dusty corner of the venue.
Last night Kirsten Tan, or worthy winner of the Young Woman Acheiver Award 2017, didn’t just win an award but won at life when she delivered an acceptance speech to rule above all speeches. Her words gave the guest chills and the silence that swept across the ballroom as she spoke was deafening.
So without further ado, I shall allow Kirsten’s words that far surpass mine, to do the rest of the talking. Please just read the below, absorb her wise words (she is under 35 years old, and clearly wise beyond her years) and give her a standing ovation once you’ve finished.
Strap yourselves in, it’s about to get all kinds of real in here.
“Hi everyone, I’m Kirsten Tan. Thank you Her World, SPH, Ms Jennie Chua and the Jury for this award.
To be completely honest, I never thought of myself as an achiever. Growing up and all the way into my mid 20s, I was more often classified as an oddball, the slacker, the one without a job, I was even voted Most Weird in class in Sec 3. So this comes as a cherished surprise and allows me to see myself in a different light. Thank you very much for that.
Now to be honest, even though I was never about achievement for achievement’s sake, I am super stubborn, and single-minded, about pursuing things that I love. In my case, film. My parents seated here tonight can attest to that. Over the years, we’ve had so many disagreements about my choice of career, but I believe tonight, they can finally believe that film makes me happy. Film gives me fulfillment, and I am above all privileged enough to walk this occasionally very difficult road. Nothing good comes easy, so Mama, it’s really ok that I suffer a little sometimes.
But anyway—let’s stop talking about me. If I could make a simple wish with this award—it would be that this award extends beyond myself. And that it can mean something also to every girl, or young woman, trying to do her own thing. I believe all of us seated here tonight, can help a little with that.
If you’re here tonight, I do believe, that in some ways, you are someone who can make a difference, to those around you. All I humbly ask from each of you here, is to perhaps rethink, how we think of the women in our lives – she could be related to you, she could be your mum, your sister, your daughter, she could be your friend, your boss or someone who works for you. I ask of you to honestly reconsider certain thought patterns we have, when we think of women.
For too long, we’ve all heard things like – women bosses are micro-managing, women are sensitive and emotional, women can’t put on a tough fight and if she does, maybe she’s bitchy or something, women hate technology and complicated equipment, women obviously can’t drive, look at how she’s parallel parking… and I mean, maybe some of these stereotypes are true —but it really doesn’t help a girl, who’s trying to do her own thing, trying to work in an environment where she has already been pre-judged by the gender she’s born into.
And we ask ourselves—why men have constantly achieved more. And I think a lot of it is down to the fact that he is given more room to be his weird, non-conforming, unlovable self. It’s time, I feel, that women are allowed to break those boxes, and be her own unique person, even if she isn’t classically fair, slim and beautiful.
So tonight, I ask all of you in this room, to really reconsider some unconscious bias we might have towards women. I ask all of you to cut her some slack, and to practice this in our daily lives.
It’s fine, and completely noble, if she wants to stay home and take care of babies—but if she wants to fix your car, don’t freak out. Don’t doubt her. Give her a shot. And maybe after she’s done fixing your car, you can freak out—that’s down to her individual ability as a mechanic. All I’m saying is: Don’t let your preconceived ideas of women stop her from trying, because she could also be the best mechanic you’ve ever had.
It’s not about me, with this award, standing here, talking to you – that would be meaningless. I’m just one person. It’s about all of us.
And to the guys in the room, I hope you’re still with me. To be honest, I’m only standing here today because many men have believed in me too. My brother was my very first supporter and Anthony helped me with my first feature film, but I feel that we, as a collective, can do more.
So if there’s one thing for me to say today, it is to allow ourselves to reconsider how we think of women—how we think of ourselves—in general. It’s just a thought—but a thought we can slowly put to practice in our everyday lives. Change starts somewhere small.
Women occupy 50% of the world. That’s a lot of untapped potential. Our society has more place for women. Our work is not yet done. In fact, it’s just beginning.
So Thank you Her World, tonight, for this. And for recognizing me as someone that I never thought I was possible of becoming. “