As my best friend walks through a retail store picking out the supplies she’ll need to make a home-made Thomas the Train Halloween costume, another woman and mother herself, looks over and says, “so you’re THAT kind of mom.”
As a friend deals with the agonizing mood swings, hot flashes and body changes brought on by menopause, her mother in law (who has already been through ‘the change’) tells her, “you have really put on weight.”
My 6 year old daughter on her first day at a new school is pushed by another girl, who after 2 weeks apologizes and says, “I didn’t know if I wanted to be your friend or not.”
I, myself, stare like a deer in the headlights at the beautifully glowing women, even after 1 ½ hours of Power Vinyasa, hugging and spreading love, filled with a little bit of envy, as my face is sweating down my shirt.
At what point will we stop hanging out in hater-nation and start to stand for one another?
When will we understand its already tough enough being a woman in this world. In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, discusses an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace.
Two professors took a case study about Heidi Roizen, who became a successful venture capitalist. The professors then split the class and had one half the class read Heidi’s story and the other half read the identical story, changing only the name to Howard.
When polled on their impressions, students chose Howard to be a more appealing colleague, stating Heidi was selfish and “not the type of person you would want to hire or work for.”
This is proof that we, both men and women, stereotype that women should be nurturing and soft and that men should be tough and accomplished.
Women are even hard on themselves. Research shows women have much lower self-compassion and self-esteem levels than men. Women are also more self-critical. In a recent study, women, who were leaders in their fields, even CEOs and politicians, showed a lack in self-confidence and self worth.
With evidence like this, women don’t need other women dogging them! They are doing a fine job of it on their own. But when are we going to stand up and change the way society sees women, heck the way women see women? When we finally start to see ourselves in the other woman’s shoes.
We are mothers, daughters, wives, sisters. We can be powerful and strong, and compassionate and caring. We are so many beautiful layers of simplicity and complicated in one. We must realize that we have been in each other’s shoes, or we may be there one day.
Yet, we segregate each other. We segregate mothers into working mothers or stay at home moms. We segregate older women or younger women. We segregate ourselves by status, single, married or divorced. Even in all this segregation, we have to realize that at the base of our hearts, spirits, souls, we are women who want to be loved and understood.
The road to standing for each other and in essence for ourselves is a simple 2 step process.
The next time you notice yourself criticizing, judging or hating on another woman. Breathe. Breathing reminds you that you are human. We are all here to learn, grow, make mistakes so that we can then have the courage to rise.
This one activity, breathing, brings you back to the present moment. Breathing centers you, realigns you to look inside at the depths of your own fears. The fear of being judged yourself. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not being seen or heard.
Focusing on your breath allows you to release “The Need.” The need to be anything different than who you already are.
2. Show Your Gratitude.
When you are present to the moment and need nothing, you are able give everything. You can see the other woman as you. Maybe you want to be giving out free-love hugs at the end of yoga class, or lose the extra 10 pounds you notice on other women, but you spend your time on the corner of self-judgment and self-criticism.
We all criticize our bodies, fashion styles, mothering skills, heck we criticize the way we brush our teeth… and giving another woman props for the same thing would be like pouring salt in our wounds of shame. And that’s exactly why you should tell her.
She is you. She probably feels the same pain, the same judgment, the same lack of self-confidence. Tell her because maybe no other woman has shown her how to be a real woman. Maybe all she knows is haterism, or to be repressed and suppressed and just take whatever comes without saying a word and hiding in fear.
Tell her because some little girl on a bus doesn’t feel good about herself and needs to push another little girl because she doesn’t know how else to express herself.
Be the inspiration that shows her we should be honoring each other, loving each other, understanding each other’s journey, because we have been there or will be there at some point.
I show you gratitude women of the world, for all that you have opened up for me. Allowing me to realize I can be funny, fabulous and full of free love and peace at any moment in time. And I can do it because I am a part of a Woman-hood.
We all want to be the Cindy Crawford, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Oprahs of the world, but you can only get there by doing. We can only get there by first loving, accepting and forgiving ourselves and then having the courage to stand for each other.