Reese Witherspoon: ‘Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. Run.’

Reese Witherspoon covers the October issue of Glamour Magazine. The cover is… not the best. I would not have put Reese in a swimsuit and a weird faux-fur coat, but who am I? Certainly not a professional stylist. Reese is currently promoting Home Again, her romantic comedy where her character sort of “falls” for a younger guy. Reese is having a great year in general, working back-to-back as an actress and as a producer, and she’s already wrapped on Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time as well. To promote all of that, Glamour let Reese write an essay on ambition and being a woman who works. I came into this thinking that Reese would come across like a less complicit Ivanka Trump, but after reading the piece… Reese is fine. These are important things for young women to hear, and Reese is trying to make the conversation about ambition intersectional as well. You can read the full essay here. Some highlights:

Ambition at an early age: “I have been ambitious all my life. In fact, I vividly remember telling my third-grade teacher that I wanted to be the first female president of the United States. Ambition is simply a drive inside of you—it’s having a curiosity or a new idea and the desire to pursue it. I asked the audience a question that night in Carnegie Hall: What if all women were encouraged to be a bit more ambitious?

Defeatism: “To be honest, in the past two years, there have also been days when I’ve seen what’s playing out in the news for women and felt completely hopeless. I get defeated when I see news that major corporations are paying top male executives significantly more than top female executives, or that women are marching for the same rights they were marching for 45 years ago. It definitely feels backward for women to be fighting for fundamental health care. I mean…really? If our representatives value women’s health in this country as much as they claim they do, how can they even contemplate denying women access to cervical or breast cancer screenings? You can’t help our kids, our country, or our future if you don’t take care of women. That feels pretty simple to me.

Intersectionality, the conversation: “Another thing I think about a lot is how it feels to be a minority woman in America, so rarely seeing yourself onscreen, and it’s unconscionable. When I asked Mindy Kaling, “Don’t you ever get exhausted by always having to create your own roles?” she said, “Reese, I’ve never had anything that I didn’t create for myself.” I thought, Wow, I feel like a jerk for asking that; I used to have parts that just showed up for me. I can’t imagine how hard it is to write your own parts and simultaneously have to change people’s perceptions of what a woman of color is in today’s society.

Run away from certain men: “When I saw the recent Harvard study that found that single female M.B.A. students downplayed their career ambitions in front of male classmates for fear of possibly hurting their marriage prospects, I thought, UGH. Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. Run. So many men think ambition is awesome and sexy!”

What she would change about herself: “One of my girlfriends asked me the other day, “Is there anything that you wish you could change about yourself?” I thought about it, and I said, “Sometimes I wish I could turn off my ambition. Every Monday I have a new idea of what I want to accomplish, or how I want to effect change, and I get run down.” When I have those days when I’m exhausted, I go to bed early, and I find that my mission to change things is what gets me up again the next morning.

[From Glamour]

It’s not perfect, but it was never going to be perfect. This conversation about women, ambition, our rights, systemic sexism, institutionalized racism… there are a million different ways to talk about it and educate people and try to do something to fight. I think Reese is doing what she can, and I like that she felt like a jerk for only just realizing this year that yeah, it’s really tough for women of color in her industry. As for “running away” from men who are scared of ambitious women… easier said than done! Those men creep up on you and they don’t all come with labels.

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Photos courtesy of Glamour, Getty.

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