More Fun with Mean Girls

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Speaking of civility, which I was yesterday, I stumbled on yet another thread of women whom I thought enlightened and thoughtful disparaging a women they do not know on social media. It's a topic that fascinates and frustrates me, because I believe passing judgments is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that keeps women from progressing.

Why do we do it? What is the point?

I'm particularly disappointed when it's women over 50 acting like mean girls, because we should know better. C'mon, ladies. Haven't we learned anything about the impact of words, the importance of kindness, the joy of being a rising tide? Not a thing? Zip? Zilch? Zero?

After all, we're being judged constantly by a society that insists we've reached our expiration date. Somebody get the hook!

This is nonsense, of course, but it's a prevailing narrative. In silently accepting it and then enforcing it, we are dragging other women down.

Did you see what she's wearing?

Oh my GOD, that hair!

Why did she do that to her face, she was so pretty?

She'd be beautiful if she'd just stop...

Like hens in a barnyard, women attack other women pecking at them relentlessly until they bleed. If a woman dares to step outside of the circle of what is acceptable, well, she better gird her loins. The mean girls are coming for her, and they're not going to hold back. 

Seriously, WTF, women?

And yes, I realize that I am passing judgment on these women. Judge Madge-y here. I'm judging the judges.


Ahem. Sits back down for thoughtful contemplation. 

If that's how they wish to comport themselves, it's their choice. Still, when people are being bullies someone needs to point it out. It's dangerous and cruel and we can make better, more uplifting choices. That person being bullied is a real person with real feelings. We know nothing about what demons they're battling. You might think they'll never find your thread of nastiness, but trust me, they might. Speaking from personal experience, it can be soul crushing. What you tap into your keyboard has power, use it wisely.

The bottom line is that it's none of our damn business how other women choose to present themselves to the world. So what if someone 'lets herself go' or decides to get a boob job or a face-lift or opts out of the make-up/hair color/fashion meme. You may think she looks hideous, she may think she looks fabulous. What you think is likely irrelevant, unless she asks your opinion. How do her choices affect you, exactly?

This idea that we have to make ourselves smaller to make other people happy is a false narrative.

We don't owe anyone anything. 

Other people are responsible for their own happiness. 

I may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I will keep banging the drum for women to be kinder to each other. I believe women could change the world if they opted out of these false narratives and rigid rules of conduct. The only thing holding us us. 

We tell a lot of stories in our culture about women and their bodies, about what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable. Every time we hear one of these stories it chips away at our self-worth. We need to start telling another story.

What can women do to fight limiting narratives and shift the dialogue? We can start by not participating in negative discourse. We can refrain from making the offhanded, mean-spirited, attention-seeking comments about celebrities or women we see as we move through the world. We can shut those thoughts down and replace them with positive, uplifting, expansive thoughts instead. If more of us stand up for women and their right to be exactly who they are, wear what they please, say what they think, and live their lives as they see fit, the story will begin to shift.

Let’s change the story. We can do that, together.
— Fifty and Other F-words by Margot Potter

If you like this post, you may like my new book Fifty and Other F-words, I'm just sayin'.