Growing up in an all female environment, both at home and school, I knew the significance of having a strong female support system, whether it be in the form of my mother and sisters or my friends. With the way society constantly pits women against each other to further fuel the stereotypes of cattiness and bitchiness between us, it can be difficult to think that female friendships can be filled with anything but petty arguments, jealousy and competition.
Yes, I have had my fair share of spats, fallouts and arguments with my girlfriends whilst growing up, but now in my twenties and a much more mature version of myself, my female friendships are what keep me going. Whether it be reliving our times at university or the “how are you?” text my best friend sends me when she hasn’t heard from me in a while, my female friendships are what has got me through some of the more challenging moments in my life, as well as being a source of constant laughter, encouragement, moral and emotional support.
This wasn’t always necessarily the case, so when I didn’t have my own support system to turn to, there were always female friendships that I was able to watch on TV and see how women should be there for one another. They have influenced the way I look at the bond between women and helped shape the idea of what I should and shouldn’t accept in a friendship. Here are a few examples of female friendships that impacted me whilst growing up and give female friendships the positivity that they deserve.
Tia & Tamera, Sister Sister:
Watching twin sisters, Tia and Tamera showed me that friendship was something that could be found even within your own family. Although they did not grow up together, their sisterly bond and subsequent friendship showed the power of having valuable female friendships as their relationship transcended all the years they spent separated. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the saying “Friends are the family you choose,” but in this case, I was able to see that the best of friendships could start really close to home and that there was actually some real benefit having someone close to you that truly understood all that was going on in your life.
Oprah & Gayle:
Back when The Oprah Winfrey Show was on the air, I was obsessed. One of the things I enjoyed the most about watching her show, was her relationship with her best friend, Gayle King. Growing up watching the Disney Channel where girls were friends right from childhood into their teens, it was hard not to think I had failed in the friendship department as many of my friendships were struggling to stand the test of time. But Oprah and Gayle’s friendship began in their early twenties. At a period of my life when I was struggling with my own friendships, they gave me hope that I too would find my tribe one day.
The Ladies of Girlfriends, the TV series:
These four women are the OG’s of female friendship. Although 10 years later I am still salty about the way the series abruptly ended, I am thankful for its existence and its portrayal of female friendship, particularly that of four black women. With few black women on television, watching the lives of Joan, Lynn, Toni and Maya were refreshing. These ladies were completely themselves with each other, had honest conversations, and despite their differences, there was no judging. Their differences complimented each other and they accepted each other for who they were. To me, this reflected what true female friendships were all about, and while I was probably way too young to be watching this show, even then I could see how having that camaraderie amongst us women would only benefit us mentally, emotionally and even professionally.
Female friendships can be one of the strongest human bonds we have. I’m sure many of us women have joked with our friends that it’s as if we’re in a relationship given how intense our relationships can be. But it’s the love, loyalty and the value we hold for one another that can lead to this feeling. As women, being surrounded by strong female energy can be great in helping maintain our happiness and sanity. Women hold so many titles – mother, sister, wife, friend, and that of whatever job we’re doing – that the support of our sisters, who we also have a shared understanding with, is important in uplifting and empowering us when we feel we can’t fulfil each role to the best of our ability. We live in a world that tends to divide women, but that doesn’t always have to be our narrative. But there is a power when women come together in strong support of one another, as demonstrated in the recent #MeToo and TimesUp campaigns, and the world could do with a bit more love anyway.
Written by Aisha Rimi