“You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building up one another instead of tearing each other down.”
My assistant was recently sharing some really disturbing stories about how her friends had been treating her since her return home from college. Feelings of now being different, feeling “left out,” and just general meanness permeated much of her conversation.
Although I remember much of that petty gossiping, comparing myself against others and taking sides against another friend in my 20s, I certainly don’t miss it. It breaks my heart that these young girls aren’t yet able to see that the women they are dissing and tossing aside now are the very same ones they will want and need later in life when things get tough.
So much this type of nasty behaviour happens in our younger years, long before we’ve had a chance to form those strong, resilient and impenetrable bonds that seem to progressively happen as we get older. But I still see this type of behavior happening amongst women of all ages. I see grown women in their 40’s and 50’s looking others up and down, judging what they wear, the number of lines on their faces, the people they hang out with, their partners, weight changes—pretty much anything about the way they may be choosing to live.
When did we become so mean?
As women, we should be our biggest supporters, because only we truly know what it is to navigate this world as a woman.
In a world where women have had to fight so hard to have equal rights, earn the respect of men and feel empowered in the face of so much objectification and adversity, don’t we owe it to each other to stand in solidarity and boost each other even higher?
When women support each other, incredible things happen.
I’ve seen it. We are powerful creatures. When we fall down and can’t get back up, it’s the women in our lives who have the power to pick us back up, dust us off and push us back out in the ring to keep fighting. Women know how to pep talk each other in ways that are nurturing and empowering.
We know because we understand each other in a way that men don’t—not because they aren’t in tune with us, or because they aren’t amazing beings in their own right, but simply because they aren’t women.
Women know what other women need to hear.
We know how to feel compassion for what it is to be a woman, and to struggle with decisions that are unique to us.
We know what it’s like to struggle with feelings we may have about ourselves—for instance, when we’re feeling “lost,” “needy,” “lonely” or “weak.”
Women are remarkable at knowing what to say to each other to build our self-esteem back up in those trying times when we are beaten down and feeling hopeless…to make us laugh at ourselves and get each other us to let things go because they are no longer serving us.
When women support each other, we make better decisions.
We hit the pause button before we make that angry phone call to another friend because we’ve had a chance to talk it out and get another women’s perspective. We don’t say things we’ll regret because there is another women there to point out the consequences of what might transpire if we let our tongues rip.
We don’t get into another unhealthy relationship because there’s another woman beside us whose been there and can see the red flags that we are unwilling or just unable to see before jumping in.
Maybe we aren’t as hard on our children in a moment of exhausted anger because there’s another woman on the other end of the phone telling us she’s been there, to just take three deep cleansing breaths, leave the room and come back in to deal with the chaos once we’re feeling centered again.
When women truly love and support each other, we stop feeling that the way we look isn’t good enough.
We live in a society where although men desire us, we don’t desire ourselves. We criticize our bodies, the way we look in the mirror, the fact that we may be getting grey hair or crow’s feet around our eyes. As if any of these things defined the beautiful, magical creatures we are inside.
But when there is another women there who is willing to hold a mirror up to us—revealing to us the beauty they see but we don’t—we learn to stop trash talking ourselves so much and we actually start to believe it.
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” ~ Diane Mariechild
My hope for all of us as women is that we can find opportunities to support one another and be compassionate in those times when it might not be easy. Maybe it’s by giving a woman we don’t like another chance to show up in a different way. Maybe it’s by not judging them when we don’t have all of the information or know what they’re dealing with inside of themselves.
Maybe it’s simply staying silent instead of gossiping about her.
There are so many small things we can do every day to grab the hand of another woman and pull her up, rather than tear her down.
And it’s that one very small thing that may be the very thing she needs to make her love herself.
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.” ~ Serena Williams
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Antoine K at Flickr