Growing up in the 70s, I was lucky to be told I could be whatever I wanted to be by mom. She was a huge fan of Gloria Steinem, admiring the voice she didn't have to promote equal rights for women, at least not publicly. She could tell me. Over 40 years later, the world is still talking about gender inequality and a new movement, HeForShe, that was launched in September. The movement redefines the perception of 70s feminism to include men in the fight too. I applaud Emma Watson's speech to the UN, giving a heartfelt and thought provoking talk about her own experiences of gender bias and encouraging everyone to make it stop.
The HeForShe movement got me thinking about how women help other women, "she for she," the every day kind. Sometimes only a girlfriend will do. My mom showed me how to do this too, driving our elderly buxom neighbor to get special bras only available at a store faraway. It makes me so happy when women get behind a girl-in-need whether it's for a fleeting moment or for the long haul. We need each other. We help each other. We get each other.
I could kiss the sales lady who helps me find the perfect dress for an event or pick out an amazing pair of jeans. You gotta love a sales girl that will tell you, "Those jeans make your butt look GREAT!" It's kind of awkward to ask a BFF if your butt looks awesome in your new jeans but by then you are probably out to lunch in those fab pants. She would do it for you though. A husband will NEVER do in those moments, too much on the line. For the brutal truth, my teenage boys are pretty good, except the "butt" question. In general, fashion is best left up to the girls, a she for she moment.
Don't you love the complete stranger nudging you at checkout, "Psst. The price tag is still on your shirt." Or in my mom's day, you're snowing down south if your slip crept below your skirt. In the veggie aisle I noticed a lady's cardigan was hiked up in the back, trapped under her cross-body purse. I reached out to pull it down and told her, "You just need a girlfriend to pull down your sweater in the back." She laughed and so did the man witnessing the interaction. He could never do that for her but he could sympathize.
Work is tricky territory. I love what Madeline Albright has to say, "There is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women."
Work is a happy place when you are a team. Amongst my peers, we are thrilled for the friend who finds a new job as we look for the next thing after motherhood. I'm overwhelmed at the number of friends supporting my blog. I was scared to death people would find it silly. Instead it's the complete opposite. Although rarely stated, when a girlfriend high-fives the other on the new job, the subtext of the message is like she escaped, i.e. "she's getting out" or "she found her thing." We are genuinely happy for our new working friends and maybe a tiny jealous. Nevertheless, we are "she for she" on the work front in my circle.
Then there are the big moments when a girlfriend really needs another girlfriend or even a posse of pals. A happy time is delivering dinners to a mom with a new baby. Dreary times might be a big bike accident when dinners and drivers are needed as happened with my hubby. And sadly, horrible times when one of our own is struck down by something widespread like breast cancer. I don't know if it's my age, better technology or the impact of a toxic world, but I know way too many people affected by breast cancer with no family history. I don't know one woman who wouldn't drop everything to help. A guy would help for sure, but this one needs a "she for she" connection.
Ironically, a good friend of mine was recently diagnosed and is starting treatment mid October, breast cancer month. She is lucky as it was caught early so the radiation treatment is minimal. When she first told me I was shocked. I wanted to help immediately. I wanted to do anything. I put the offer out to her and she was so grateful. It's a tough thing to tell someone or even hear those words come out of your mouth.
My friend asked for the most touching request for support. She asked a group of us for two upbeat songs she could add to her playlist so she could be happy, feel her friends' presence while she's driving to radiation treatment or sitting through it--a virtual hug she called it. Maybe she would even sing the songs out loud! I wanted to cry when I read her request. I got goose bumps. I am getting goose bumps just thinking about it again. I love singing my favorite songs while driving or cooking. I immediately thought of two songs for her to sing.
Carry On by Fun. The title alone tells it all, just leave the past behind and keep going. It's also one to sing really loud and really strong.
My second pick, Try by Colbie Calliat. The first time I heard Try I thought, "Wow. This is a great message for the gals." The beginning is about how hard we work at the gym, dressing up, making ourselves up so our friends like us. Maybe it's partly true. The important message comes at the end when we let it all hang out, you should like yourself. I kind of look at it as a she for she encouraging me for me and liking you anyway. I like that message and I especially like it for my friend when I bet she isn't feeling very pretty. She is very pretty, no matter what. She for She, the way it should be, always.
Photos are original work by Francie Low