Women supporting women. This is something that has been big on my mind lately, especially after having two separate conversations recently, one with whom is ten years old and another who is ten years older than me. I think that this past Saturday has proven that we have reached some sort of cusp in the world. That 50% of the population has reached a breaking point and that enough is enough. Women are standing up like they never have before. There are some hard issues out there and it seems that being afraid of them is no longer an option. At the heart of a lot of it comes down to this: women supporting women. And I really think that it is time. Enough cattiness. Enough treating people poorly. We need to bond together. We need to support one another. Because in doing so, we are stronger, we are better and we can fight harder.
I went to the Women’s March here in Toronto with my husband and a group of men and women and it felt so good. It felt amazing to be surrounded by that energy of 60,000 people, united for the same causes. Later that day, my ten year old niece came over for a sleepover. I had decided that we would go to the movies that night and on the way to the theatre, we got off the streetcar a couple of stops early so that we could read the signs from the March that were on display. We walked slowly and read every one and we had a great conversation about what the March was and about what the signs meant. We then continued on and started talking about a new Instagram account that her and a friend have created. The Blonde Squad is what they are calling themselves. The account mostly selfies and quotes about friendship and it’s cute, but I asked her, “What about the brown-haired girls in your class? Aren’t they left out?” She then said that there is also a Brown-haired squad and that she’s also a part of it because really her hair is dirty-blonde in colour. (#tweens) I asked her a few more questions. She told me that only the grade five girls in her five-six split class are in the Squads because the Grade 6 girls act all better than them because they’re older. And so the disconnection of women begins. I remember feeling that way when I was a kid and how that one year separation felt like a whole generation at times. I then gently suggested, “Wouldn’t a Girl Squad that included all the girls be better? That way every girl would be a part of it and none of them would be excluded? You could one big squad of awesome girls.” She agreed that it would be a good idea and time will tell if The Blonde Squad grows into that. We then went and watched Hidden Figures which began a whole other conversation.
I recently photographed a client. A beautiful woman who I photographed before in the past and I was excited to see her again. This woman is one of those who is hard to take a bad photo of because she photographs so well. She is beautiful but there is more to it than that. She has this sparkle in her eye and this overall glow to her that just instantly makes you warm up. During this shoot, we had a great time and talked about some important things including the Women’s March that recently took place. We talked about being women and our experiences that we have had with other women. She told me how there is someone in her office that when she mentioned she was being photographed, cattily replied “Well shouldn’t you wait until you lose ten pounds?” We talked about how sad that woman must be that she feels that it is okay to speak to another woman that way. That her saying that is actually a reflection on herself and how she feels about her own body. Fast forward to a week later, when I send a gallery of her photos to her. Her response “The photos are beautiful but I think that I look like a whale. It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s do another session in a few months.” And there it was: her self-confidence was shot. Gone. Non-existent. I would like to argue that this 180 degree flip had something to do with that sad woman chiming in her ear earlier and now that off-comment has dictated how my client will live her life, at least for the next while. Women, why do we do this to one another?
I think that in both of these recent experiences of mine, there are lessons to be learned. I’m the ripe age of thirty-six. I have lived through friendships with women my whole life. I have ridden the waves of being left out and of being a part of the problem when it comes to woman friendships. I have always tried to treat people well but I know that I have failed at times and it hurt me as much as it hurt the person I was hurting because it wasn’t the true me. I have also always remembered when I wasn’t treated well by another woman, when they have done something to wrong me and admittedly, I often hold a grudge for that. Because it’s hard to forget about the hurt or how another made you feel.
But considering what is going on in the world, I think that it’s time that we stop behaving that way. I think that it’s time that, no matter our differences*, that we need to start supporting one another a little better. That we be inclusive of all women. Because bad behaviour – when as a woman you say something snarky to another woman or when you mistreat that woman in some way – is truly a reflection on your own character and no one needs to feel or hear that. (Well except for your very closest lady friends… That’s what they’re around for). We need to start encouraging our woman friends. We need to give them compliments on bad days. We need to make them feel good and strong. Because if Saturday’s March is any proof of that, the more we do that, the higher we are all lifted and with that, we can truly make a positive change in this wild, wild world that we currently reside in. Women supporting women. Let’s do this.
*Well, unless one has a hugely different political or world view than what you believe. I am currently grappling with how I could ever be friends with a (especially female) Trump supporter knowing how unsupportive he is of our sex. I just cannot understand how a woman can side with all that he does and how he treats others. I just cannot.