GRL PWR: Understanding Female Friendships

Kenna Campbell, Writer

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I stepped through the doors of Obama Academy early fall of 2015. Unfamiliar faces began greeting me as I nervously walked towards the cafeteria, welcoming me to sixth grade. My palms were sweaty as I tightened the grip on my Jansport straps and stepped into the cafeteria. Suddenly, I found myself in front of a deafening mass of screaming middle schoolers busy catching up with one another after their long summer break. I walked through the crowd and amidst classmates hugging and rejoicing, I quietly took a seat at a table… alone. I sat there for a few moments facing a crushing realization that I would undoubtedly be by myself the entire year when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. As I turned around, I saw the face I would recall as my bestie for the restie. She looked at me and smiled explaining how I should come sit with her friends. I got up, slung my bag over my shoulder, and as I gingerly followed her across the lunch room, recognized that middle school may not be terrible as I thought it would. As long as I had people to suffer through it with everything would be alright.

As the years have passed and I’ve gotten older things in my life have changed, but the women in my life have been constant reassurances that I’ll never sit by myself. 

 

Understanding Female Relationships 

To begin understanding how female relationships have become what they are today, we’ll take a look at the article ‘What Science Reveals About Female Friendships’ by Jacqueline Mroz, author of the published book Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendship and how she chooses to summarize the first notable start of female relationships. Through her research, Mroz explains how in past traditional societies women have often been forced to live with their husband’s family, alone in a new environment. Due to these unfamiliar surroundings, women found sanctuary in intimate social groups where a sense of loyalty was created and when compared against male friendships, were oftentimes stronger. As time has progressed, women can recognize these connections of loyalty and dependence in their own relationships. Just look at today as an example and the ways women have chosen to support one another, whether it be through the Me Too movement or standing up against Congress for women’s rights. Women’s social history has enabled a progression of strong relationships in the 21st century.  

 

Benefits of Female Friendships 

  • Lead to healthier lives 

A study conducted at King’s College London. London, UK revealed that girls ages 13-16 with dissatisfying female friendships often reported having more negative self-image views and eating habits than those with healthy relationships. There are also studies at the University of British Columbia that infer women with healthy social relationships are more likely to survive being diagnosed with breast cancer.  

  • Reduces stress 

A study done at UCLA revealed that when women are stressed they often rely on the company of their fellow female friends to make them feel better. This is due to an increase in the ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin that is released when we are with one another. Prioritizing these relationships leads to an all over healthier well-being. 

  • Increases Self-Esteem 

Dove conducted a study that showed around 70% of women actually feel prettier when they are with their friends. Obviously, the benefits of surrounding oneself with the people they appreciate should not be taken for granted. 

  • Cure Loneliness

In recent years, psychologists have found that the feeling of isolation among the population has increased due to a number of factors such as social media. Spending time with the besties, especially when knowing all these great health benefits that come with it, can alleviate the perception of loneliness that women can have and help to support one another.  

 

When I met my bestie the first day of sixth grade, I had no idea what that would entail. I had no idea that she would introduce me to who would be some of the most significant people in my life. However, looking back on the research I’ve done about the benefits of having these people with me, I’m glad I was able to expose myself to these relationships. My female friends are constantly teaching me the correct ways to treat others and that good relationships take work. But most importantly, in my opinion, they allow me to learn more about myself and what it truly means to be a woman. 

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