I’ve never been someone who has a strong sense of “girl power” or female unity. My mentality for the most part has been of the “every man for himself” variety which has made me more of a lone wolf, save a few very close friends I’ve had for years. Like most women, my experiences with other females haven’t always been positive because let’s face it, girls can be mean. It seems like from the time we start school we begin picking at each other and it’s just accepted as typical girl behavior. As of late, I have had a change of heart. Between discovering the majesty of Lizzo and seeing firsthand some truly gracious displays of female harmony, I’m almost ready to run to the nearest Sephora and join hands while we all sing “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar.” Well, maybe not that ready.
My entire life I’ve had a tremendous amount of issues with my appearance. I’ve never looked in a mirror at myself nude and not absolutely hated my reflection. A lot of this stems from things other girls have criticized about me growing up, and I can’t hold them responsible because I have done the same things myself. One of my most vivid memories from high school was when a popular senior girl I hardly knew went out of her way to stop me in the cafeteria during my sophomore year just to tell me, “You have the most f*cked up figure I’ve ever seen.” Almost 20 years later, that sentence still runs through my head almost daily. When does it become so engrained in us that the way to build ourselves up is to tear others down? I wonder how differently my views on myself would have been if that girl would have stopped me just to say she thought I was pretty or that she liked my outfit, but honestly, my body dysmorphia is something so personal and powerful that I can’t blame it on anyone but myself. Unfortunately I get plenty of compliments but those never hold the same impact and I tend to dwell on the negative things instead. That’s why it’s so important for someone famous to promote healthy body acceptance, and as I mentioned earlier, the artist Lizzo is doing it in such a fun and powerful way that even I’m on board. Girls today need someone who can encourage self-love and acceptance-hell, even us grown women still need that.
When you’re finally an adult female, one would think that we all outgrow the mean girl mentality, but that sadly isn’t true. We graduate from picking on each other over hair and clothes to now shaming one another for things like not having children or, if you do have them, how you’re raising them. I do not have kids myself, but many of my friends do, and the one thing each of them have expressed is how inadequate they feel as a mother due to mom-shaming. That is pathetic. Every single woman with a child has literally performed a miracle and as long as you are keeping them alive, fed and safe, you are doing your job, and that is the ONLY thing that matters. I have been made to feel on a few occasions that I am somehow less of a woman because I’ve never wanted children of my own. As someone who has always felt this way, I cannot express to you how frustrating it is to be told “you’ll change your mind one day,” or “who will take care of you when you get old?” Frankly, I would prefer to receive my sponge baths from a tall, dark, young, stranger as opposed to my own flesh and blood during my twilight years, but that’s just me.
Women also tend to judge each other’s marriages or relationships in general and I can promise you that not one of us has a perfect one to be basing our comparison. Married women feel sorry for “lonely single girls,” and single women feel bad for the ones who are tied down to husbands and kids and never have a chance at fun. All the while, we should be most concerned that we are simply in healthy, happy relationships, either with ourselves or a significant other. These days I am so happy that it’s becoming more and more commonplace to see single, successful women who are prioritizing things like their career over marriage. I think it’s so important to be able to take care of yourself before getting married, because life is full of twists and turns and you never know when you will have to depend solely on yourself. Losing financial independence can also make someone stay in an unhealthy relationship because they feel they have no way out. And on the subject of men, I think this has been and always will be one of the most polarizing elements in female relationships. Time and again, women absolutely tear each other apart over a man, and from what I have seen from both outside and inside these situations, it is solely due to the inappropriate behavior of the man. Women naturally want to alleviate the blame from their partner because they don’t want to believe someone they trust could do these things so they excuse it by pointing the finger at someone else. The other person wants to believe the man is miserable because of the actions of his significant other and will turn them into a monster in their own mind to justify their own actions. All the while, it is the man who is responsible for creating chaos and disrupting the lives of everyone and yet no one wants to hold him accountable.
More and more I am seeing women come together and I love it. For every troll with a nasty comment online, I see 3 more who leave nothing but compliments and encouragement. I’m seeing ladies who have every right to drag someone publicly because they have been so wronged, but instead are handling the situations rationally from all sides and with grace and dignity that I didn’t even know was possible. I love that due to the internet, so many women are able to have side hustles and they all cross-promote for one another. And I especially love the fact that it’s becoming acceptable to look however you want so long as you are healthy. Let’s keep this trend going!