Girlfriends

By Kali Nelson

A woman with a big piece of cardboard.
My friend with a piece of cardboard.

As my time here on the blog dwindles down, I would like to write once again about a topic near and dear to my heart. Girl friendships. This post may sound a lot like a post I wrote earlier about Galantine’s day. But it is not, this time I want to focus on how sometimes the media does not know how to get a girl friendship right.

Three friends standing on a dock looking at the camera. There is a lake behind them.
My friends Brooke and Sierra and I.

The friendship between women is something else. I cannot quite encapsulate the feelings that I have for my friends, or how they have helped me in more ways than I can even count. But my girlfriends are my rocks, they are my best friends, I cannot think of life without them.  While there can be bad friendships that cause more harm than good, there are also friendships that enrich lives and make life so much better.

Society has taught women from the beginning of our lives that other women are our competitors. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie states this very beautifully in her TED talk “We should all be Feminist.” She says, “We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing – but for the attention of men.” This does not play our well for women, it leaves them isolated and alone. Forming supportive female friendships is in its roots a feminist act. It goes against everything that society teaches us. But the problem is that when the media tries to portray these kinds of friendships they miss something sometimes.

Society, through the media, pushes the idea you can only have one best friend, for everything. It puts too much pressure on this person. Sure, in the movies it always works out, but not in everyday life. I know it doesn’t work for me, I have many best friends, I have a best friend for staying up late and watching movies, I have a best friend for doing stupid shit with, I have a best friend for geeking out about our favorite shows or go to coffee shops with. One best friend is not enough. It can also lead to stereotyping. The media sometimes likes to push the stereotypical ideas of what men and women like to do. I cannot count the time in tv shows and movies that female’s friendships have been based on only gossiping, or doing something that a stereotypical girl would like to do. This cuts off so many friendships that aren’t based on these things. To say that a person can only make friends to do things that are stereotypical is wrong. It’s fine if that’s what they want but not if they feel that this is the only friend that they must have.

 

I say sometimes because I have seen great friendships on tv. Like Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, Ann and Leslie have a great friendship built on trust and understanding. These women have a great relationship; they love and support each other. They push each other to be better, they complement each other, and they know when to help each other in times of need. Both these women genuinely support each other.  I honestly love this show so much, the friendships are all so good, and well-written. It has genuine characters and all of them develop in their own way.

Another show that is quickly becoming my favorite is Broad City.  They have each others back and they know the other one will be there if they need them. I must admit that I have not watched much of this show, I think that I will.

Positive female friendships are a must in the media, but we need to stop putting them on a pedestal. There is no perfect friendship, we all make mistakes, some friends may not seem like they will be there but in the end maybe they are the only ones that will.  We need to call for a diversity in the portrayal of friendship because there are so many different types and they all have pros and cons. Leaving out the complexities of friendships hurts everyone because they come to expect too much and that leads to heartbreak.

collage of my girlfriends. eight pictures in total
A collage of my friends.
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