Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (March 29, 2023) – I recently had a discussion with a friend about the dynamics of female friendships after dealing with some bullying amongst my daughter and some friends. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “girls are mean.” As the mom of a 12-year-old girl, I can tell you that yes, they are — they just are.
The conversation went something like, “These girls are being so awful to my daughter, saying hurtful things. It is always about her looks, her sports successes, clothes — the usual stuff pre-teen girls talk about. But it always comes back to girls being mean and super competitive with each other.”
My friend then said something that still resonates with me, “Girls, especially those who play sports, are trained to be competitive and it is carrying over to aspects of their lives outside of sports.”
This was my “whoa” moment. I started asking myself some questions. As women, are we trained to be competitive with each other at a young age? Why do we so easily forget that we can all be successful, beautiful, funny, and amazing? Why does another woman’s success feel like ours is overlooked? And lastly, are we tearing down everything the women before us have fought for?
History.com defines Women’s History Month as, “a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society.” During the month of March, we see lots of articles and blogs about female leaders in technology, medicine, civil rights and so much more. Women trailblazers, most of whom we will never meet, have done and will continue to do groundbreaking, thought-provoking, and amazing things.
But why does it feel easier to celebrate women we don’t know and praise their accomplishments? What about the women we see every day? Why can’t we seem to uplift them and their achievements as effortlessly?
This brings me back to my first point. Are we, as women, celebrating our friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and family with the same gusto that we approach Women’s History Month? While some amazing women have forged the way, it is our responsibility to keep the spirit of this incredible month glowing all year long.
To me, that means giving out more compliments to my peers instead of criticizing or judging. It means celebrating their accomplishments instead of seeing their success as my own “lack of.” It means igniting their fire through support and positivity while realizing their bright light doesn’t dim mine.
As a former college athlete, I will be the first to admit that being overly competitive is a real thing. It’s the voice I hear in the background all the time. However, as I get older and raise my daughter, I realize that football legend Walter Payton was right when he said, “We are stronger together than we are alone.”
If we, as women, are always competing against each other, how will we ever accomplish the next great thing? Let’s be a positive influence on the next generation of women by showing them that the world is a large place, and there is room enough for all of us to succeed.
Activist Malala Yousafzai said it best: “I raise up my voice — not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
Many before us have fought for women to have a voice, and now it’s our job to make sure our voices are positive and supportive of the younger generation. After all, as influencer Christy Cole says, “A glowing woman can help other women glow and still be lit.”
About the Author: Ashley Pino is the Connected Nation Marketing Communications Specialist. She is responsible for communications and marketing functions that broadly publicize Connected Nation (CN)’s mission, educate stakeholders on Digital Divide issues, and lead to new programs and projects that expand CN’s social impact.
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