Though the past year has been full of political and cultural uncertainty, for me, a major silver lining of it all is that it’s awoken so many women (myself included) to the fact that we’ve still got to fight for each other. For a lot of my life, I thought that “feminism” wasn’t all that necessary any more: I grew up feeling like I could do anything I set my mind to, and the fact that I was a girl never seemed like a disadvantage. But the lessons of the past year have taught so many of us how vital it is that we continue to pay attention, and I’ve been endlessly inspired to see women of all ages lifting each other up and becoming stronger together than one could ever be on her own.
After the women’s march, I think a lot of us were left wondering if these collective feelings would fade over time, or whether that day could actually be the beginning of a sustained movement to give all women a voice. In the months since, I’ve seen it play out in the trenches of the day-to-day: co-workers supporting each other in the workplace, mothers withholding judgement from other mothers, and the power of one simple act rooted in sisterhood. The movement is certainly alive and well. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can continue to support the women in my own sphere of influence, so I’m sharing some ideas here in the hope that it’ll be the beginning of a candid conversation where we can spur each other on. Keep scrolling, and I’d love to hear in the comments how you’re supporting the women in your life (and how they’re supporting you!).
Engage in authentic conversation.
There’s nothing that makes someone feel more valued and supported than really listening and engaging in what they’re saying. When you’re in conversation with another woman, make a conscious effort to stop the endless loop of to-do’s that so often run through our mind, and instead just listen and absorb what she’s saying. By making eye contact and being present, we show her that what she has to say is important.
Replace envy with a celebration of others’ success.
You know that voice in your head that reacts to others’ achievements or good fortune with jealousy? Try making a conscious effort to replace it with a spirit that applauds another woman’s success. This really starts from the inside by cultivating more love and kindness towards yourself. When you’re focused on being the best version of you and proudly embracing what makes you brilliant, you’re free to approach other women with a mindset of kindness and generosity instead of criticism.
Embrace your squad.
Identify those soul sisters who bring out the best in you – and you in them. Then take those friendships to a deeper level by holding each other accountable and cheering each other on in your goals. Set up phone dates, create a text group, and look for ways to help lift each other up on a regular basis.
Be generous with kindness.
If you admire something about another woman, tell her! Far too often we keep our compliments to ourself, whether from shyness or busyness, but we’re totally missing an opportunity to improve another person’s day. And while we all love to hear that our hair looks great, find ways to compliment another woman outside of her physical appearance — maybe it’s her creativity, kindness to others, mothering chops, or brilliant idea at work.
This goes for social media, too. Instead of just scrolling through your Instagram feed voyeuristically, take time to actually leave encouraging comments on others’ photos. You never know when you might say just the thing that someone else needs to hear.
Be yourself! When you lose the facade, other women will too.
Cultivate relationships that are built on honesty. Taking the first step and being vulnerable about what you’re going through opens the door for others to feel safe enough to do the same. Remember that as women, there are often similarities in our journeys, and it’s likely that another woman will be able to identify on some level.
Don’t be a mean girl.
Nix the gossip and snarky comments. We all know that females can be extremely harsh with one another, and it takes a strong woman to resist the sirens call of gossip when she’s surrounded by it. We don’t need to tear other women down in order to build ourselves up. Instead, choose to see the beauty that lives within every woman, and believe that she’s capable of great things.
Give other women a voice.
If you notice that another woman isn’t being heard, be the platform that lifts them up. Whether it’s in the boardroom or at a PTA meeting or a conversation at a cocktail party, be on the lookout for moments when women may not feel heard. Then help give them a forum and let them know that you see value in what they have to say.
Remember that when women genuinely celebrate and support each other, amazing things happen! We are so much more powerful together than alone, and when we choose to empower each other, women can be an unstoppable force for good.