Women Supporting Women

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are ” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I started out wanting to write a post about the importance of women supporting other women and how it can be so hard for us to acknowledge each other’s accomplishments. I believe, and hope, that times are changing. Women and men are equally capable, if we are just given the respect that we intuitively give to other men, then what can’t we accomplish? I’m not writing this only “as a woman” but as a person. My opinion matters not only “as a woman” but as a person in general. That being said, being a person who identifies as a woman gives me a certain authority to write about women’s issues.

So as I start thinking about this post and everything I want to say, even if only a few people read it, was “people will think this is stupid”. I was afraid/skeptical that other men and women would think “Oh another post about how women are disenfranchised” or “another woman complaining about being a woman”. Seriously, that was my first thought. Then I realized, I can’t possibly encourage clients to be who they want to be, accept who they are, and that just being who you are is enough, if I’m not willing to get out of my comfort zone and “preach” about what I am so passionate about.

I have heard so many times from women, specifically women and not men, voice their opinions or disdain of a female boss but not their male counterparts. And I can’t help but wonder why is that? I haven’t heard a man say “he’s too bossy” or “he’s in a bad mood” (I would use other words, but I think you get my point). But, why? I am not “man shaming”, again feeling I need to defend my stance in case someone takes this the wrong way, I am just saying we are comfortable and “used to” being told what to do from a man and not from a woman. I think it’s because we feel the need to defend ourselves against other women because we are so used to being on “opposing sides”. Men being dominant and women being submissive are characteristics that stem from traditional gender roles. We need to allow women to have both feminine and masculine characteristics and likewise for men.

I started listening to this podcast “As A Woman” by Natalie Crawford, MD., and I absolutely loved it. (I encourage you to look her up and listen!) She touches on so many things I have thought about before but just has not said.

That being said, I have started doing the following and it has given me so much strength and appreciation for all of the wonderful, intelligent, worthy women I have met

  1. Acknowledge and learn from each others success
  2. Don’t judge your own self-worth based on how you compare with others. The only person you are trying to become better than is your past self.
  3. Remember that each woman is different and won’t have the same path! Remember what Amy Poehler says “Good for her, not for me!”
  4. All women have enough going on in their life- We don’t need to tear each other down.
  5. Our differences are what makes us special. Appreciate them.
  6. Lastly, this may not be a direct post about eating disorders; however, I do know that accepting ourselves for who we are directly relates to our emotional well-being.

On the note of difference, it’s important to acknowledge that not all women are born with the same privileges in life. Women of color, disabled women, trans women, women from the LGBTQ+ community, women from low-socioeconomic status, etc. We all occupy different spaces in society. As a straight, white woman with many economic advantages, I know I have certain privileges that others do not. This doesn’t mean I’ve never had to work hard in life, or that everything was handed to me. It simply means that I’ve never had to worry if my skin will affect job opportunities or if my romantic relationships will affect how others look at me. What is most important is that I acknowledge my privileges and vow to do good with them.

Side note: appreciating other women and their accomplishments have given me so much joy…

Being jealous is a normal part of life. Recognize that jealousy, and think “what is it that is making me feel inferior”. I guarantee (for the most part) that the jealousy is actually something we admire and strive to be more like. Try separating out those emotions and find what it really is that is upsetting you.

And lastly, get rid of that old phrase ”I’m not like other girls” you don’t have to bring down every other woman or separate your womanhood from your identity to declare your own uniqueness!  Your feminine attributes should not inhibit but should strengthen your own greatness.

Authored by Emily Baum, M.S., RDN, LD