I challenge you to look through any old pictures of yourself before the age of 10 and you will find that every picture where you are with your female friends- your bodies are intertwined like vines. When we were little, before boys came onto the scene and complicated it all, your life as a female was tied to your female friends. I watch my daughters at dance or tennis or Girl Scouts and find that through out their time together, they are in constant physical contact with each other, arms linked together, holding each other around the neck or waist, holding hands, always attached. Somewhere around adolescences that all changes….losing one’s virginity often means losing one’s girlfriends and that is the greatest loss of all.
Growing up, you relied on your girlfriends to make every decision from what to wear, what activities you participated in, what path you chose at school or on the field, what you found funny or offensive, and look at you now….all those influences are male and probably just tied to one male. I let my mister replace my sisters and it may be part of the process in growing up but it sure does suck. My girlfriends shaped me in ways I wasn’t aware of until their absence was felt years later into adulthood. Your girlfriends would tell you when you were being an asshole in the most constructive of ways. They would tell you what kind of behavior was acceptable and what wasn’t. They would tell you what your value was in a relationship and to the world but somewhere along the line all their invaluable input faded and you put your entire stock and self worth into what your husband or partner thought.
You wouldn’t take your car to be serviced at the frozen yogurt shop would you? Of course you wouldn’t because they don’t have the equipment you need to get things right again but we as adults tend to lay our struggles down at the feet of people who don’t have the equipment we need. And while my husband certainly has the equipment I need in one respect, his lack of a vagina and a woman’s mind certainly doesn’t help me come up with a solution that solves my problem. While I’m only partially joking, the issue is that women in today’s world go through a common set of experiences that is foreign to most men. When I’m crying after sex to my husband about how my body has changed due to having children, he can sympathize but he can’t empathize because due to the luck of the draw, he didn’t get the privileged of going through that transformation. The female experience is unique and we need to realize that we can best be healed, heard, and motivated by others who have experienced those same joys, challenges, and sorrows. My husband doesn’t know what it’s like to be violated in the most intimate of ways. He can’t understand what it feels like to carry a human life inside you and then lose it. He doesn’t know why the commercial about the lost puppy made you lose your shit during the Super Bowl. He doesn’t understand the significance of losing your name when you get married. But your girlfriends do…
Besides a common experience, the way that men solve problems is inherently different than how women seek out solutions. I often find myself going to my husband with an issue and he inevitably has either one of two solutions, either it’s my fault or someone else’s but that’s not how women solve problems (that blame game belongs entirely to the war mongers (I mean men)). Women will look at a problem from every angle and give you input for a variety of solutions and then (this is the most important part), they will give you the information that you need to solve the problem yourself. A man will tell you what he would do and then get pissed when you don’t solve it to his exact specifications. Women are collaborative in how they solve problems. I see this all the time in my classroom. A group of girls working together will begin solving a problem by getting feedback from everyone and then harnessing the specific talents of every team member to come up with a solution. A group of boys will often spend the entire time shooting down each other’s ideas in an attempt to build up their own and run out of time to finalize a solution. And they run the world? Yikes?
As I began losing weight, it was the feedback I found from women that was most crucial in moving forward and making more progress….not that my husband’s golden comments of “Wow I can fit my arms all the way around you now” or “Your back fat roles aren’t swallowing my hands up anymore” weren’t super motivating. Women, some who were my friends and some who just happened to notice a change in me, knew exactly the thing I needed to hear to keep me motivated, to make me push myself harder, and to bolster my self-esteem. All women have struggled with body issues, it’s an unfortunate right of passage that is unique to women, so they know what they would want to hear and they have the courage to speak it and the deep desire to see others of their gender succeed. While you might have traded in your sisters for your mister, don’t be afraid to reconnect to your girlfriends or make new ones. Men understand the importance of this gender specific bond and they don’t seem to have to sacrifice their boys when they grow up so fight for yours. Whether you are trying to lose weight or just need to be heard, your girls are here for you- you just need to reach out, grab them by the waist or the hand and journey back to your 10 year old world where your girls were everything.