There seems to be a lot more talk in my life lately about women needing to be kinder to one another and while I am all for it, I am finding that there is a lot of talk happening out of one side of people’s mouths. Who hasn’t “pledged” to be better to her sisters in vaginahood one second, and criticized a woman for something in the next? I’ll tell you who: every single one of us.
I just did it this morning, only this time I was judging myself. A lovely girl sat next to me on the train and I wondered what it was like to be so slim, and it hit me like a frying pan to the face: how did I become so inured to degrading my own value? When did I completely buy into measuring my value as a woman against a magazine rack full of size 2’s?
The early and constant brainwashing in the media, our own mothers and sisters teaching us to “suck it in and put some lipstick on” or we’d never “find a man” – we’re doomed before we even know what we are doomed to.
I think I found a way to undo this, you guys: find your tribe.
I was a 38 year-old mother of a newborn before I found my tribe. As the only sister of three boys, I was a tomboy and mistrustful of all “those” girls who liked dresses and makeup and boys. I had a few girlfriends that still remain friends, but I don’t necessarily know that we are close enough now to share chin hair removal secrets.
In fact, I didn’t even know I needed a tribe until I became a mother and the tribe found me. A woman who has been a sister to me since I was young invited me out to an event, and I needed to get away from my newborn so badly for a few hours I said yes before I even knew what it was (it was an olive oil tasting party, we laughed, we drank, we bought, we had a blast!). From there, I was invited to a spa night, at which we also did all of the above things, and then to a girls weekend in March (during which we mostly did the first and second things).
I’m getting to know them all, through lunches and other things, and I love them already. I have never known what it was like to have an eclectic group of women together without judgment, without fear, and with nothing but acceptance, laughs, honesty and good times.
This tribe doesn’t care if I am overweight or if I yelled at my daughter in a moment of frustration. They don’t care if I work outside or inside the home, or if I breastfed or not, or whether or not I have cellulite or a bad relationship (I don’t, in case you’re reading this, honey!). This tribe cares about whether or not I am okay, because they know that I care about whether or not they are okay.
They have shown me, in the little time we have had together, what it is like to be supported and accepted by women.
In this life, it’s so hard to find acceptance for ourselves when we’re faced with images and ads and commercials and magazines and celebrities and botox and fat-shaming and the omnipotent pressure to ridiculously impossible standards.
One of the most important things for me to teach my daughter is to know and love herself, and surround herself with people who will do the same. I didn’t understand the importance of women friends and the immeasurable benefits we would all reap from being good to ourselves and each other.
Your tribe will help you see your value, and will elevate your opinion of yourself.
Your tribe will accept you for you, not for you they want you to be.
When you start to seek out the people who will do all of these things, then you will start to believe THEM, and stop buying into the messages that bombard us every day.
Find your tribe.