We’ve all been the occasional bitch that’s seen a picture on Instagram and said something like, “Omg, she looked way better before” or “There’s no way that’s not photoshopped.” We’re humans, we process and perceive everything even when we’re not trying to. But when it becomes a constant chorus of “she is such a slut” or “ew, she’s so ugly,” it changes people. They’re not stupid. They hear the things other girls say about them, they realize when girls are staring and laughing. They understand the silence that presents itself right when they enter the conversation. And every time, every comment and every stare, breaks them a little bit more.
As girls, we have gotten so far in life. We used to be so restricted, only doing what men told us we could. We weren’t allowed to vote, to get a higher education, or to even get a job outside of the home. We barely had any say, and we spent most of our time keeping the house clean or taking care of our families. Eventually we realized how unfair this was, and we knew we had the potential to do so much more. We knew we could do amazing things like fly across the Atlantic, create life-saving vaccines, fight in the army or make amazing discoveries. We knew the great extent of our capabilities. And so, with one girl supporting the next, we fought.
We held protests, created women’s rights associations, and pushed bills on the government. We did not stop until we got what we wanted. It took dedication, hard work, and a ton of persistence, but we definitely pulled through. We made today what it is. We gave women the opportunity to do anything we set our minds to. We can become lawyers or doctors, teachers or athletes, nurses or accountants. We made it possible for a woman to run for president. We have accomplished so much more than I think we realize.
Women’s rights has become such a well known area of study in school. Children and teenagers are taught about it so in-depth because of its importance. We want future generations to know how hard we worked. We want them to know all about how we stood outside in the cold, about how we lost people we loved, and about how some even went so far as to starve themselves to get us to this point. We are taught to continue to hold our heads up high and to have the same strength and fire in us that we did back then.
We are supposed to learn and teach about women’s rights so that no one ever forgets. The sad thing, though, is that I think there’s one huge thing that we have forgotten. It’s something that built the foundation for women in the first place. It’s something that we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without. It’s something that the textbooks don’t address directly, and something teachers don’t discuss. The thing I think we have forgotten is the fact that the only way we accomplished all of these things, the only way we have the rights we do today, is because we worked side-by-side together.
We need to be reminded of the fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t unite and fight as a unit. It’s unacceptable that we have forgotten to look at the bigger picture, the one that was made possible only by working together. We, as girls and women, made today the way it is by building one another up and cheering each other on; by supporting and standing by one another, by lending a shoulder to cry on when things got tough, and by never, ever turning our backs on one another. For some reason we have become so entitled and so distracted that we have forgotten the most significant of simplicities—that we need to be good to each other.
Trust me, I totally get it. Girls can do things that will cloud our judgements, and it can be really difficult to look past them. They’ll talk to boys we like or play both sides of an argument. They’ll send endless screenshots of text messages, Instagram comments, or pictures that we’d rather not have everyone see, and there probably won’t be kind words to follow. Some girls can be really freaking mean. They’ll bring out the worst in you. But we have to try to do better, because when we’re least expecting it, they’ll bring out the best in us too.
So let’s pull up our big girl panties, stop blaming the boys for all of our insecurities, and take some accountability for ourselves. If girls built each other up, maybe we would be confident enough in ourselves to know what we deserve and to never allow anyone to treat us like we’re less than what we are. We might be strong enough to know when to walk away and wise enough to know when we need to stay. We’d feel secure in who we are as people and wouldn’t need boys or anyone else to reassure us in the first place. We have to stop criticizing girls because they’re not exactly like us and instead embrace the fact. We can’t let the driving force behind what we fought for all those years ago go to waste just because we got what we wanted. It’s bigger than equality, bigger than being able to do whatever we set our minds to, and bigger than any one of us alone.
So smile more, give compliments, don’t hold grudges, and try your damn best to see the beauty behind every girl, even if you have to dig deep to find it.