We've all heard about how our society can hold women back, whether it's through body shaming or female objectification. But what we hear about less often is how women can hold one another back. Here are eight (seemingly innocuous) phrases we need to stop saying to other women because they actually disempower us:
1. “After eating this, I’m going to have to hit the gym hard tomorrow.”
We’ve all probably said this at some point and heard it from others. It sends the message that any food you've enjoyed is a sin for which you must punish yourself.
2. “Guys prefer _________ anyways.”
I often hear women saying this in an attempt to encourage other girls about their appearance. Nobody's appearance has to be justified by another person, let alone a guy.
3. “You look amazing! Have you lost weight?”
When women (or anyone) say this to one another, they often have the best intentions. But it reinforces the idea that our good looks are based solely on our ability to fit into the very narrow perception of beauty society has created.
4. “Don’t worry, you’re prettier than her.”
This is often said to console a friend after a breakup, or when she is pursuing a man at the same time as another woman. Unfortunately, sentiments like this confirm that there is, in fact, a war among women, and our "success" depends upon how attractive we are.
5. “Girls are crazy.”
Crazy is a word I often hear used to describe an ex of a current boyfriend. If a woman has behaved in a way that causes another woman to call her "crazy," it's probably because that woman is experiencing deep emotional hurt, pain and suffering. And let’s admit it — we’ve all been there.
6. “How come you’re single?”
This one is said with the best intentions — of course you’re curious about why your wonderful friend is single. But asking this question is confirming a damaging message: As a woman, the most important thing is to score a relationship (and eventually get married). The fear of being single sends many women running into toxic relationships, so let's let our friends take their time when it comes to finding partners.
7. “When are you going to have a baby?”
Having babies is no doubt an exciting milestone for any family, but it’s not always what a woman wants at that current moment in her life, or maybe ever. Or perhaps a woman very much wants children but is struggling with infertility issues. Don't ask about family planning unless you're invited into a conversation about this topic.
8. “Does this make me look fat?”
Asking this question subtly reinforces the idea that you feel one shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house looking “fat.” If we’re going to move toward acceptance of every body type, we need to everyone at every size and shape, including ourselves. When you're confident in your body, it gives other women the message that they're allowed to feel the same way.
Let’s all vow to become more aware of the things we're saying to all the women in our lives. We have the chance to lead by example and to uplift other women instead of tearing them down.