The other day a friend of mine was walking in the downtown Mpls skyway with some male coworkers. After they walked past a group of women, the guys said to my friend, “Did you see that?! Those women just gave you the biggest stink-eye.”
We’ve all seen it: an attractive, put-together woman walks into a room and other women eye her up and down, typically followed by a disapproving look. The judgement is palpable.
I’m encouraged by the images we’ve seen in the media lately. Women have been supporting each other through marches, posts, and t-shirts. Unfortunately, it’s not something we are always good at doing.
While men are the stereotypical competitors, women have a tendency to be competitive in every aspect of our lives. I believe society has cast this unfortunate curse on us, using the media to (literally) size ourselves up against one another on a daily basis. Nonetheless, every woman has witnessed or experienced firsthand the judgeyness from another woman. It’s no fun.
After all, it is really hard to be a confident woman in our society. This is precisely why I’ve always hated interviews. You are supposed to sell yourselves to total strangers. From a young age, society tells women that we are supposed to be humble. We learn early on that talking highly of ourselves is bragging, and bragging is a huge no-no. So we don’t.
And we’re terrible at accepting compliments.
Girl 1: “Omg I love your shirt!”
Girl 2: “Oh thanks, I feel like a house in this shirt. And I seriously got it for like $2.”
Why do we get so awkward from a simple compliment? I don’t know but I still struggle with it. Not because I have low self-worth- I just don’t want to appear as though I agree for some reason. Because if I agreed, then I would be bragging.
It’s like the scene out of Mean Girls.
Regina: “You’re like, really pretty.”
Regina: “So you agree- you think you’re really pretty…”
Men accept compliments all the time. Whenever my husband gets a compliment, he responds sweetly and gratefully with a smile and a thanks. Hmmm. Might not be so hard I guess.
The pressures society puts on women wind up turning us against one another. And when women are so competitive with other women, they are unable to appreciate their female counterparts. And they probably never experience the joys of a true Girl Crush.
I’ll never forget my first. I was in third grade and she was our class paraprofessional. She was radiant. She was always dressed trendy, sporting beautifully coordinated jewelry and she smelled nice. She had a great laugh and smiled all the time. She called me Dancing Queen, which is still the coolest nickname I’ve ever had. But most importantly, she was kind and made me feel good about myself. And I was crushing.
There are few things more fun than a girl crush. I think men and women alike can agree that females are the more complex species, with all of their intricacies and range of emotions. Women have the ability to be fierce while sensitive, vulnerable while strong, optimistic while pragmatic.
I have experienced a ton of growth from past girl crushes. Girl crushes are amazing because they allow you to see characteristics in women that you want to emulate and subsequently, make you want to be better. Rather than seeing a woman as competition, a girl crush encourages you to be inspired. They might make you feel inspired to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. They may inspire you to spread more love and kindness. Other days, they might just encourage you to put on a pair of heels.
In high school, I admired the upper-class girls from afar. They made high school more exciting. I have a vivid memory of a time when I was a sophomore and a senior girl complimented me on my shirt. I remember the shirt I was wearing (it was an XL Men’s Tommy Hilfiger shirt, but I digress…). I even recall where we were walking and when it happened. The rest of the day, I walked with my head a little higher and felt inspired to spread more kindness. I don’t know if she actually liked my shirt or if she just wanted to build me up. Either way, it worked.
The power of a girl crush.
In any healthy relationship, respect is one of the key foundations and I think that is why girl crushes can turn into some of the best friendships there are- it’s started by pure admiration and respect. Of course the wooing period is exciting, just as in a romantic relationship, but it only lasts for so long. Hopefully what you’re left with is a newfound friendship and deeper connection.
That is the best part of a girl crush. Most of my best friends began with one.
I met my college roommate at college orientation- we were both dressed in matching tops and khakis (I know- it was back in 2000 and khakis were still the thing in the midwest). She had striking long dark hair, tan olive skin, and these big beautiful eyes. I thought she looked like Pocahontas. I felt a bit intimidated but after we noticed that we were dressed like twinsies, we struck up a conversation. We spent the afternoon together, exchanged numbers, and we eventually decided to ditch our assigned roommates and bunk together. From the start, I was taken by how she confidently handles herself with warmth and humor in any given situation. She could talk to anyone with ease and always made meeting new people so fun. I’m always able to step out of my shell when I’m with her. Today she is still one of my best friends and I adore her even more than I did back then.
At least once a year I get to spend a weekend with my tribe of girls from high school. It’s one of the weekends I look forward to the most all year round. We reminisce, laugh, vent, eat plenty and drink plenty. We continue to make each other a priority 17 years later. I am in awe of these women. They continue to amaze me with their strength, their insights, and their love. At one point I absolutely admired each one of them from afar, but being able to share my life with them and have a deep friendship beyond the surface is so much better. And all of these years later, I’m still crushing.
Because anyone who loves a good girl crush knows how positively it can impact your life.
I am inspired by so many women every day. The inspire me to try new things, take better care of my body, chase after my dreams, and slow down and appreciate the life that I have. It is so much more fun to appreciate women and be inspired by them than to size them up as competition. I don’t want to allow society to continually drive a wedge between us. We are far too awesome to miss out on each other.
Spread love to the ladies. Tell women when you appreciate something about them. Build each other up. And if you notice a woman that you admire, I challenge you to approach her and strike up a conversation. She may just become your new BFF.
And a message to these women:
To the women who consistently build up those around you, I see you. To those who give freely and volunteer, I see you. To the women who experience hardships growing their families but continue to have faith and hope, I see you. To the women who are making healthier choices and working hard to better their life, I see you. To my female students who grew up with a lack of strong role models, had to grow up way too quickly but somehow continually practice kindness and hard work ethics, I see you. To the entrepreneurs making waves, to the stay-at-home and single moms and all your selflessness, to the divorcees and LGBTQ girls and all of your bravery, I see you. I see you and I’m crushing.
So you keep crushing it, too.