Being a woman is difficult on the best of days. Stilettos hurt. Doing your hair and makeup takes a long time. Looking like the airbrushed models on magazine covers (like we are supposed to, right?) is quite literally impossible.
We can work our butts off to statistically earn about eighty cents to every dollar that our male counterparts earn. None of these things are wonderful.
The sad thing, however, is that often none of these things are the worst part about growing up and living as a woman. From young girls playing in the playground, to senior citizens living together in assisted-living facilities, it is the girl-on-girl bullying that seems to be the worst part about going through this world as a female.
It is the gossip, the judgment, and the emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse that can really be the absolute worst part about being a female. So the question remains – if we are all walking down the same, sometimes extremely difficult road, then why do we insist on making it even that much more difficult on each other?
Girls can be mean. Even women who are actually wonderful, intelligent and loving people at heart can still be mean (both intentionally and unintentionally). So what can we, as the kind, amazing women that we truly are, do to end this cruel tradition that consistently sets us all back?
Here are three ways to end the mean girl trend.
1. Educate the young women in our lives.
I have heard many little girls make mean comments about other little girls that they know. Sometimes they know that they are being mean. Sometimes they are simply repeating things that they have heard others say.
It is time for us to step up and be role models; stop them when they make these statements, and then take it a step further and educate them. Tell them about how important differences between girls are, and emphasize the strengths and skills that others have. As a role model, you should have a zero tolerance policy for girl-on-girl hate and girl-on-girl bullying. Junior high wasn’t pleasant for most girls I know. It’s time to change that.
2. Don’t fall into the trap yourself.
It is very easy to engage in gossip, sometimes by even just agreeing and nodding our heads. We have all done this. It’s time to stop. Stand up for women when you can, and if you can’t… at least change the subject. Gossip helps nobody. Not the victims of it, the people who are listening to it, and certainly not the people who are spreading it.
3. Change your perception.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to pass judgment upon others. So if it is that easy, why can’t we pass along our positive thoughts just as easily? I challenge all of the women out there to start voicing the happy opinions rather than the negative ones.
If someone has done something fantastic, maybe even a stranger or a friend of a friend – tell her. The difference a compliment can make in someone’s day is the same difference an insult can make. So why do we often choose to voice our negative opinions and keep our positive opinions silent?
It’s time to reverse some bad trends. Girl-on-girl bullying is prevalent and present in women of all ages. It’s time to stop wasting our very valuable time and resources fighting against each other. Let’s all take a stand by not putting up with it anymore. Don’t let your daughters and nieces do it, don’t let your mother do it, and most importantly, stop doing it yourself.
Athena Leadership is a Manitoba-based non-profit organization dedicated to advancing young women in leadership. Laura Wittig currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Director of Communications. She is a proponent of helping other women advance in their careers, and seeks to share her perspective on how we can always keep learning personally and professionally.