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For Every Girl Who Has Ever Been Called The B-Word…Bossy

Today someone sent me a link to a video. I am not sure if they were thinking positively or negatively about me or what exactly they were trying to tell me by sending it, but I’m going to assume the best and say it was all good.

I think they know me yet have probably called me the “b” word themselves. Not the b-word that rhymes with rich but the one that sometimes has the same connotation as that other

“b” word.


For as long as I can remember, I have been called bossy. Even as a little girl, my siblings and even my parents called me bossy. And I was even given the Little Miss Bossy book as a child and a t-shirt as an adult.

I think the givers were trying to be funny or maybe just tell me what they really thought of me. It hurt (and sometimes still hurts) my feelings because I’m always just trying to help and do things well based on my experiences.

But no matter how I try to sit back and not be “bossy”, which usually equates to me saying or doing little to nothing, I can only be me.

Why was I always put down by being called bossy for taking a stand, for speaking up, for leading especially when others would not. The first time I heard what I considered an appropriate term used to describe me, it still ended up being negative.


In my senior year of high school, a teacher who had been incorrectly grading papers called me a “leader” when I rallied other students who were unfairly failing her class. Well, she actually called me the “RINGleader.”

Well, the ringleader got results. The students were assigned to new classes and the teacher was disciplined and later removed after it was determined she was flat out wrong.

Ringleader. Sounds a bit bossy to me…definitely feels like it (or worse). But that was when I fully embraced the true me. Someone not afraid to face ridicule or failure and not afraid to take a stand. And even stand alone if it came to that.

Why couldn’t I just be called a leader? Assertive, confident, resilient…maybe? Instead, I was (am) often called bossy.

Well, the University of Memphis embraced me and rewarded me with the Emerging Leaders Scholarship, a full scholarship to college. They called me a leader, and I leaned into that term…leader. And every day, I strive to be a better leader and a better me. After watching the video below, I’m honored to be among some great women who have been called the “b” word.

Strong at times. Vulnerable and needing help from others. Yes, I see problems and want to at least try to fix them. Yet, I succeed. I fail. I love, and I hurt. But I always stand up.

So even as a child, this bossy girl was pretty strong and pretty strong-willed. There were (and still are) even times when I let some people’s “bossy” perceptions of me keep me quiet…but I eventually speak up.

Many girls and young women today may not push through the negative feelings and even loss of friends from being called bossy.

Sometimes it’s easier to blend in rather than stand out and be called the “b” word.  But easier definitely does not mean right.

That’s why I love this new campaign from the author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg. Ban Bossy!




I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.



  1. Lori Love
    Lori Love says:

    I’m BOSSY, and I’m okay with it. Things happen when I’m BOSSY. Stuff gets done, procrastination ceases…and I light fire under people who are just plain lazy. I’m a natural born LEADER. I AM THE BOSS…of my Life, my Heart, my Family, and my Career. My son has actually nicknamed me “The LAW”….because he says I “run it”….I make the final decisions. In a society today where single mothers raising boys are afraid to speak in their own homes, where young black talented women in Corporate America are often frowned upon by not “knowing enough”…where women SETTLE for ANY man just to have “A” man, I MUST be the BOSS of my life…if not me, then WHO? In the words of India Arie, “I choose to be the BEST that I can be, I choose to be authentic in everything I do, my past don’t dictate who I am, I CHOOSE”….