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Women, It’s Time to get it Together!

Mean GirlsWhy, why, why are we ladies mean to each other? Are we just never happy? Do we all have such low self-esteem that we only feel “happy” when we make other women feel bad? Is it how we’ve been conditioned to treat each other from the time we’re young? 

I have a nine-year-old daughter and it’s starting already with her friends. She happens to be very sweet and my stomach is in knots fearing the day when she’s run over by a friend and doesn’t see it coming. What will happen to her sweetness? Will she become nasty too out of self-preservation or heartbroken and retreat into the land of low self-esteem?

Why are girls snarky?

Is it the result of a time-release capsule that goes off inside of us at some point? I’m going to go out on a very thin limb here, but I think all women have a degree of snarkiness. 

Yes, all women. 

There are degrees of it, as evidenced by even the nicest, most supportive woman participating in a gossipy conversation about a “friend” at some point in our life. At the very least we’ve thought to ourselves, “What was she thinking when she walked out of the house wearing that?!”

Don’t say you haven’t. Then you’ll be snarky and a liar. 

Is it a female gene and therefore out of our control? Men don’t whisper to their friends, “Can you believe Doug can’t get the sympathy weight off after his wife had their last baby, three years ago?” Men have very few things over women, but this one is hands down, lights out, they win. Don’t yell at me. I’m generalizing here, I know. But ladies…if we’re really honest and not defensive, you know this is true.

It starts in elementary school. Cliques form and girls isolating other girls. Certain girls hang out at lunch and others aren’t included. The groups emerge: cool, brainy, geeks, annoying, etc… Middle school is where things start coming unglued. Hormones emerge as the new driver of emotions. Girls turn on each other on a dime. They start noticing what they look like and what their girlfriends look like. Clothes, labels and skinniness start to matter.

And most of all, boys and girls finally take notice of each other – you know that way. By the time they’re in the thick of high school, boys have unknowingly played quite a role in many girls’ friendships. If the cute boy you are in “love” with likes your best friend and not you, the end of the story is rarely, “No problem Kelly, I’m so happy Justin likes you. He’s awesome. I’ll find someone great too.”

Rather it ends up with a metaphorical pencil to Kelly’s eye or in some cases an actual #2 to the eye. But why doesn’t that supportive scenario happen?

It’s your best friend. You love her. You want her to be happy, right? If he doesn’t like you, why wouldn’t you want him to like your best friend?

Guys are like:

“Hey man, mind if I ask Jenny out now that you’re not dating her anymore?” 

“Sure, cool.” That’s the extent of it, “Sure, cool.”

I know, I know, you’re saying, “Who can expect a high school girl to be rational about her emotions when the love of her life just asked out her best friend”?! Can we really expect her to realize if he doesn’t like her, she should move on and not care who he dates because she should care about herself more than to chase after some guy who doesn’t want her? And if that includes her friend, then so be it? Well, actually, yes to a certain degree.

Boys do it, why can’t girls?

I am not making light of the role hormones play in the way girls react to situations, but I think there is also a huge environmental component that we pass from generation to generation that needs to be turned around. So, women, girlfriends, moms, we need to elevate our consciousness and help our daughters stay nice.

Not when they start middle school, but the seeds need to be planted about the time they learn to talk.

I was going to suggest that we show them how to treat their girlfriends by our example, but going under the assumption that we’re ruined already, that might be tough. I’m sort of kidding here, but not exactly. 

Watch what you say and do around your girls, I don’t think I need to elaborate. Encourage your girls to invite new friends into their circle. Unearth her conscience by working into appropriate conversations how it makes her feel to be left out, talked about behind her back or any other negative encounter and what she can do to avoid making someone else feel that. Teach her to appreciate herself and other girls for being pretty inside, instead of outside. Eliminate the emphasis of importance on materialistic things like clothes, jewelry, etc.

There is not a 16-year-old on the planet who needs to be driving a Mercedes. 

There are only a few reasons a parent would buy their kid these types of extravagant things:

1) The kid can show off
2) You can show off through your kid
3) To keep up with the Joneses

Any of the above sends quite the message, now doesn’t it? 

Most importantly, teach her to love herself. Period.

Then when the boy dumps her, she won’t care as much after the initial heartbreak. Put her in situations, if they don’t naturally present themselves, where she experiences how rewarding it feels like to do something genuinely good for someone. If she can feel that genuine, long term excitement of doing the right thing, then she won’t have the need for the temporary and false “high” that she may get by putting someone else down to make herself feel better. 

This summer a family from Japan moved across the street from us. The father speaks fair English and the mother and children speak very little. They have a newborn and two school aged girls (yes, moved from Japan with three children and I was whining about moving six blocks…I’m an a-hole).

The oldest girl is in my daughter’s class at school and coincidentally another girl who lives down the block is in the class. One day my daughter and Sally (not her name) were playing and I suggested that they go knock on Harriet’s door (also, not her name) and ask her to play.

I watched the girls walk across the street and knock on Harriet’s door. I watched them communicate their invitation: “Can Harriet come jump on the trampoline?” by jumping up and down and pointing to our backyard. Harriet’s mom smiled and nodded. Harriet ran across the street with them with a big smile on her face.

They didn’t need words to have fun.

The next day, Harriet’s mom came up to me and said in the little English she knows, “It made Harriet feel so…” she put her hand over her heart… “to play with the girls. Thank you.” 

The next time they knocked on Harriet’s door without me suggesting it.

Author: Shari Dabby

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