As Tina Fey once famously said, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.” If you feel overwhelmed by the task of pulling yourself out of the Mean Girls trap of regularly tearing down other women, don’t worry. There are small things you can do now to start supporting other women instead of tearing them down, no matter how much society wants to pit us against each other at times.
- Share your experiences and commiserate. Hoarding good advice is a passive way to keep other women down. Share the book that inspired you, the name of the mentor that helped your career, and the workout that made you stronger. Your accomplishments won’t mean any less if other women are working towards their goals, as well. At the same time, commiserating about your crappy experiences will make you feel less alone and strengthen your bonds with other women, as well, which is never a bad thing.
- Work together instead of trying to outdo each other. When you see another woman as an ally, not a competitor, you both win. Work together and see how much farther you go. At the end of the day, there’s more than enough room for everyone to succeed.
- Support women-led initiatives. One easy way to support another woman is to simply show up. If you see someone is participating in a play or fundraiser, take a little time out of your day to go and let them know others are rooting for their success.
- Actually help out when you see someone that’s overwhelmed. Sometimes all someone needs is a little no strings attached, judgment-free help. If you know someone has trouble asking for or accepting help (as many women do), just do something small for them anyway without expecting a thank you. Grab a coffee for your overwhelmed coworker, do the dishes for a busy mom, cut the grass for your older neighbor. The possibilities are endless (and aren’t even limited to women).
- Connect someone to needed resources. People can’t help themselves if they don’t know where to go for resources. If you see someone struggling, take two minutes to give them the number of the company you know that’s hiring interns, or the diaper bank that’s stocked up, or whatever they might need to get a leg up.
- Think twice before judging. It’s impossible to understand someone else’s motivations. If you feel like you’re about to say something judgy, stop and think if you’re actually equipped to pass judgment on another human being. Since you probably aren’t, keep your comment to yourself and try to understand that person a little better instead.
- Stop hiding behind a façade of perfection. Women can be way too critical of themselves if they think everyone else’s lives are more perfect than they actually are. It’s easy to think someone’s life is entirely together when you only see staged snippets of it on Pinterest or Instagram. Stop keeping up the façade that everything is perfect so women stop comparing themselves to an unrealistic standard.
- Speak out against jerks. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or someone else. Whether it’s coming from a man or another woman, be brave and take a stand against tolerating sexist speech or behaviors. If that makes them uncomfortable, good — they should be.
- Be a good example. You never know who’s soaking up your behaviors, the good ones and the bad. A small gesture by you could start a chain reaction, benefitting more women than you possibly could have reached on your own. Start today!