It’s such a nice experience when a stranger at the dining hall stops to tell me that she loves how cute my boots are or when a classmate takes time after class to say, “I really liked all the points you brought up in discussion, I can tell you’re really passionate about it.” And while these instances are all are just tiny compliments, I remember every single one of them because they make my day each time. And while some may think of it as mindless flattery, I prefer to call it “female positivity”- something everyone could use a little bit more of in their lives to create environments and relationships of mutual empowerment.
Girl hate is definitely a real thing. While the ever-popular movie Mean Girls may have exaggerated several aspects of girl hate, it did get a lot of other things right. Especially the epiphany moment for Cady when she realizes that instantly judging her opponent in the Mathletes competition for her bushy eyebrows and snaggletooth is an incredibly meaningless and superficial outlook. Girl hate is not just a high school phenomenon, it comes in all different forms and even grown women are often guilty of committing it. Automatic and unwarranted girl hate is why female positivity is so necessary to change the tide of things.
Female positivity isn’t just about fake compliments and disingenuous flattery (“Oh my god, I love your skirt, where did you get it? That is the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.”), it’s about concentrating on things you like about another girl instead of being judgmental and seeing all the negatives. It’s about voicing these positive comments and letting them know they’re fabulous and amazing. It can be tough sometimes. There are some days when you might feel super gross and unattractive, but the girl next to you comes to class with extra poufy hair and a cheerful demeanor and you can’t help but feel this weird dislike towards her for no reason. Or when your close friend looks better in your shirt than you do. It’s the constant pressure of perfection and internalized misogyny that creates a sense of competition and criticism amongst females.
There’s already so much in the media and society telling girls that there’s a lot about them they should change that there’s no reason why anyone should be adding on to that. Instead, creating an environment where your fellow girls feel beautiful and noticed is incredibly empowering. And it’s super important too, because studies show that workplace environments are often some of the least empowering spaces for women. One study showed that in a male-dominated work place, women expected fellow women to give positive evaluations but there was actually a negative bias against them in many instances. This contributed to an environment in which women did not seek out other women for support. As many women can attest, this type of environment is one that doesn’t foster confidence. Instead, being able to rely on other females to support rather than criticize is one that creates happiness and positivity.
So when you meet a new person, find something you like about them. Maybe they have a really great smile or laugh or they have a super cute dress on. Let them know about it and don’t be stingy with your kindness. Within your friend group, remember to tell your friends they’re looking fabulous or that you’ve noticed they’re really on top of their work at school. Make that extra effort to infuse your relationships and even your casual encounters with female positivity and bask in all that empowering lady love.
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