Girls.

No, not the TV show. My real life experiences with girls.

I’ve always maintained I’m someone who simply does not get along well with men. I’ve had past experiences where men have been untrustworthy and intimidating and hurtful and I’ve never found a great stride with men. I have some great friends who are men and I love them dearly; I’ve dated men that I’ve at least liked, if not loved dearly. But I’ve always said that I’m someone who simply has much better synergy with other women. I’m a ‘woman’s woman.’

Recently, things have changed for me (I’ll spare the details) but it begs the question: Do girls really get along with girls the way we believe that we do?

There’s a wonderful scene in a recent episode of The Mindy Project where Mindy, who storms out of her own birthday party, finds solace in a group of girlfriends she meets in a café when she’s invited to sit with them. The reason Mindy is openly psyched about these girls is because of their high-functioning kindhearted way of communicating with each other which is quite different than her friends at her birthday party. They’re paying her compliments and consoling her failed birthday and then one of the girls gets a phone call from her boyfriend, who says he’s working late. Mindy scoffs; “working late” sounds like he’s cheating on her, an opinion she voices to the girlfriends resulting in a milkshake getting dumped all over her.

The metaphorical milkshake is something I’m sure most girls have experienced with their friends. For example, let’s say your friend is having trouble with a guy and tells you all about it and then you tell her, dump the bastard. And in return, she gets angry at you as if you’re the villain and not the man she just spent a whole bunch of air or text or coffee time complaining about. Do men really get in the way of female friendships? Does competition rile women up the way sexist movies portray it to? I don’t really have answers to these questions but I can say that in recent memory, instances like these have cropped up repeatedly in my own life and it’s forced me to ask tough questions about female friendships that I never believed to be true. Who are your friends, really? Are they the girls who want you to go out with them on Friday nights in hopes that they can meet a guy then dump you right off the bat? Are all female friendships a wing-woman-based relationship?

For years and years, I was the ugly fat friend. I was a size 14/16 and chubby and socially awkward and my clothes and demeanor reflected this fact about myself. And back then, I could be counted out. Not only that, but I felt like the sun around whose planets my friends revolved. I was the popular one, the one with the great ideas and plans, the one people wanted to hang out with all the time. Then, I lost 60lb. 60. And now – I’m not the hottest thing on two legs or anything like that, but I’m a size 4/6 and I catch an eye or two when I go out. This is, in itself, a brutal fact about men, maybe moreso than it is about women. Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice that many of my female friendships have changed since undergoing such a drastic physical transformation. Maybe because I see myself differently and so my personality has changed as a result. Or maybe because suddenly I’m competition for my very beautiful thin friends. Either way, the friendships have changed. Some of them have gone by the wayside. In some of them, what we talk about and say to each other has changed; and we went from talking about our lives and ambitions and memories, to talking about how hard each one of us worked it at the gym yesterday. I have to ask, why are people telling me how hard they worked out? And the answer is there, and it’s simple.

I’m sure this isn’t going to be a popular opinion; and the reason for that is because everyone believes in girl power and best friends forever, and that you can’t put a price on your girlfriends because those bonds are sacred and untouchable entities. I can’t argue with that. Who I am to argue with that? I guess what I’m saying is, as girls we are “on the market” in the world competing with other girls all over the place: at work, school, home sometimes, at a bar or club, on dating sites and even with women we don’t know who bare it all on the covers of magazines looking like their foxy, perfectly-toned, thin selves. And we sometimes need to take a moment and ask ourselves this question: Are our sacred bonds, untouchable entities, ‘BFF-doms’ and our fervent belief in girl power truly what ties us to other girls and takes precedence over the competition society sets girls up to have with each other? If not, perhaps we need to reexamine our friendships with other girls. Because it seems too often, we let society win. And we allow these petty setups of patriarchal society get in the way of our girlfriends.

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