Multi-tasking. It's something we all do as women because we all have so many balls in the air that it's what we need to get things done. But Katie Telford, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Chief of Staff, has a lot more balls in the air than most of us (and I say that as someone with a lot of balls in the air which isn't busy-bragging - it's the truth). Katie Telford isn't just assisting the Prime Minister create and implement domestic and global policy. She's managing crisis after crisis, wether the recent plane crash in Iran in which 57 Canadians died, the ongoing pipeline protests across the country and so many other stories that we hear about plus the ones that we don't. Add on top of that rotating school strikes in Ontario, which leave her sometimes needing to bring her son to work with her plus all of the other life things that she has going on. It's a lot.
So when I saw her share a photo of herself on the Prime Minister's recent trip to Africa, at a table full of mainly men, including Justin Trudeau, doing her makeup, while there was probably a briefing going on, it immediately inspired me to sit down and share my thoughts about why it's so important that a) she shared the photo and b) what it will do for women in politics and hopefully women in every workplace. Some might say that Telford sharing this photo isn't a big deal. It's just a woman doing her makeup. Others will 100% say that it's totally inappropriate for her to be doing it. Both views miss (especially the second) totally miss what it means to working women with those aforementioned balls in the air. Sometimes it's just not possible to do everything, when you need to do it and when priorities are competing for your attention. And if you have to choose between making that really important phone call while finishing reviewing a briefing note and getting out the door so that you're on time than your makeup doesn't get done. (Let's set aside the debate of if a woman does or doesn't need to wear makeup because hopefully we can agree that it's her choice and leave it at that.) So where do you do it? Wherever it is that you need to do it. And in this case, for Katie Telford, she did it at a table full of men and the Prime Minister.
Why is this important? Because, in my opinion, it simply isn't a big deal. It's makeup and she is still actively listening to whatever is being said. The expectations of working women aren't decreasing contrary to what you may believe. Especially for working mothers. If someone can sit in a meeting with their phone in their hands, tapping out messages and be considered acceptable than why can't a woman put on some eyeshadow and mascara and have it not be thought of in the same way?
The idea of having it all, a successful career, happy family, clean house, active social life and more all while being told to smile, and oh, you're wearing the same pants twice, feels further away to me on most days the something actually attainable. We don't share the real parts of our lives, especially on social media, because it simply isn't attractive. Or we think it isn't. Because looking like we showed up with all of our balls taken care of and neatly stowed away isn't what life really looks like for working women. What Katie Telford shared in that photo is a real. I see an extremely hardworking woman committed to her job sitting at a table of men (that's another conversation...) and the PRIME MINISTER, doing her makeup and it makes me feel seen. And that's something we, working women, with those many, many balls in the air, need more of going forward, not less.