My In-House #HeForShe

mallorie_instaMallorie CarringtonSmart Glamour

I started getting called the "i" word over 15 years ago while in high school.

Intimidating.

I was a tall girl, unapologetically myself, who stomped around my giant 3,000+ student high school in 4 inch stilettos and hand sewn clothes made from re-purposed jeans and fabric scraps. I went after what (and who) I wanted, studied what I loved, and was more often than not the leader of the group (regardless of what said group was.)

But something happened when I moved to New York City in 2005. I realized how much people were really looking at me - and how much they were fully judging me by my appearance alone. It bothered me - but I succumbed to it. I dated boys who tried to dictate my outfits and my hair cuts - and I let them. I never put up a fight - I let things fester - and because of my acquiescence I was unhappy.

It wasn't until I made a choice to be alone, focus on myself, stop modeling, and get out of the night life industry (latter two were results of suggestions by aforementioned boyfriends) that I remembered the girl I was in high school and brought her back to life.

I am a loud, impatient, stubborn, driven, put together, organized, ambitious and well dressed, intelligent, confident woman. These facts about me that make me "intimidating" - they are the reason I rarely get approached in bars - that I only get hit on by selfish, conceited, compensating-for-something men. I've always been this way - but what changed was that I stopped accepting their mistreatment of me.  I made a decision to raise my standards and I stuck to them. What you allow will continue - and I wasn't allowing it anymore.

You can find tons of ill advised articles on how to find a man - what to wear, what to say, how to act, how to dress - just open any women's magazine on the news stand - and they'll mostly try to teach you to be a ladylike, polite, buttoned up version of yourself (While hinting at the idea that you're actually a sexpot. Don't be obvious about it though!) To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - "And then we do a much greater disservice to girls because we raise them to cater to fragile egos of men. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you would threaten the man.' "

It was only once I stopped subconsciously taking this advice that one day - out of the blue - right under the nose of my girlfriends who had been secretly plotting for me to date someone less obnoxious - that I met a man who not only does not find me intimidating - but encourages and supports every feminist inch of me.

Raised by a mother who was once the mayor of their small town and alongside a sister who takes charge - my partner was the first to step up and tell me not only to free my 6 inch platforms (that made me 6 inches taller than he) from the depths of my closet - but to put them on immediately. He is my biggest supporter, my most enthusiastic fan, and my loudest promoter. He sticks up for me when I am underestimated - and he reminds people that for however attractive they might find me (and congratulate him for) I am exceedingly smart and talented.

He motivates me. He allows me a mental break down when I need it. He reminds me to take a break to eat and for goodness sake - take a nap! He takes care of me without holding me back. He propels me forward without taking the credit. He learns from me as I continue to learn from him. He's the guy that everyone likes. And he's the kind of man every little boy should aspire to be.

I am a pretty good version of a loud, impatient, driven, ambitious feminist without him - but I'm a much better version of myself with him by my side.

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Your StoriesErin Bagwell