Xo, Jaime, a new bimonthly column for ELLE.com written by Jaime was published today and in part one of her two-part first column, she talks about the lack of women who support other women. She explains her struggle with it, why it’s toxic, and how changing her view of herself led to the friends she has now (a.k.a. the Taylor Swift girl gang).
I don’t know if you remember your first experience, like in school where you were bullied or talked about, but, for me, I was 12 or 13. I was pretty, and I looked a certain way, but I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the address. I was very creative—and in Omaha, where I grew up, that wasn’t something that was really acceptable. You had to be a cheerleader or a jock at the school that I went to, and I remember the feeling at that point, like, Oh, okay. What do I do? Maybe if I change the way that I am, if I try to be more like my sister…. My sister was very popular and she was accepted. I knew if I emulated her then finally people would love me. I started doing my hair and makeup like her. I started stealing her clothes so that I could try and look like her—whatever I could do to get out of feeling like I would never, ever possibly belong. And then, the interesting thing is, it got worse. People said I was a poser, that I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I didn’t understand. If I’m not acceptable how I am and I’m not acceptable when I fit into what you look like, then how am I ever going to be acceptable to you? It wasn’t the boys who were bullying me; it was the girls. And it’s very similar to the way it is now. Most of the bullying women suffer in social media or the workplace—the body shaming, the ageism, the talking about the way someone dresses—comes from other women.
We live in a society now where we don’t have to be that way to each other. It’s not like back in the day where we were competing for the hand of the heir to the throne. The experiences I’ve learned by having very strong women around me—women like Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, and Jessica Alba—is that there can be a group of strong, creative women without competition between us. The thing that solidifies us is this idea that, no matter what, we will always support each other. People find that fascinating about our friendships, like it’s some sort of odd thing. And it really shouldn’t be.