I recently noticed a woman wearing a t-shirt that read: “Girls Compete with Each Other, Women Empower One Another.” As an advocate for empowering women, and a collector of inspiring t-shirts, I was immediately attracted to the quote. However, the more I thought about it, the less I liked it; at one point I even became indignant over it.
The implication here is that ‘girl’ is a derogative term. It suggests that you should be a ‘woman’, and empower other females, not a ‘girl’ who competes with other females. This creates a gender stereotype for young girls: it’s ‘what girls do’, it’s socially acceptable, even expected behavior, that girls compete and tear each other down. It further insinuates, that when girls finally become grown women they should now begin to support and empower one another.
Most of our behaviors are shaped in early childhood, not adulthood, so why expect, or imply, that it’s expected behavior for girls to compete with one other in their pre-teen and teen years, but then expect them to know how empower other women and build each other up when they become adults? We should be teaching girls to empower one another from a young age, so that when they become women they already know what it feels like to be empowered by other females, and furthermore they know how to empower other females.
Teach girls that they don’t need to compete with each other, teach them they are ENOUGH. Teach girls to love and honor themselves, and to support and empower each other, because empowered girls become empowered AND empowerING women.