Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maybe It's My 'Resting Bitch Face'?

As much as we've tried to make all things equal between men and women over the last few decades, there is one (OK, more than one, but I'm going to address one, for today) difference that is still very visible to me. 
When a group of men are introduced to each other, there is hand shaking, back slapping, and very quickly a camaraderie seems to develop based on work, sports, politics, and personal interests, among other things.
When a group of women are introduced to each other, there is hand shaking, smiling, lots of politeness (uh ... yeah ... we're Canadian!) and surface friendliness.
But there is also something else, intentional or not.
No, obviously not all women are like this, but I definitely see it more often in women than I do men.
I've experienced it personally.
Women who don't know me, know nothing about me, can and have decided they don't like me on first glance.
They give me the up and down once-over, but not before I catch them doing it.
Maybe it's because I come off as confident?
Maybe it's because I'm skinny (don't laugh, people hate on skinny people, too!)?
Maybe it's my 'resting bitch face'?
I have no idea why, or what I'm giving off, because I'm actually a very nice person, but the judgement is there.
You can actually feel it. Like an electrical current in the air.
Last night, I was with a group of women I don't know very well, for somewhat of a 'girls night out'.  One of these women I didn't know at all and was only meeting her for the first time.
Over the course of the evening, one woman in particular seemed to be struggling with her emotions.
And then, totally unexpectedly, the floodgates burst and she was in tears.
It doesn't matter what caused the tears. That's not important to this story.
What matters is that this woman wasn't able to hold it in any longer. And let go.
In front of me.  Someone she didn't know.
Initially, it was one of those moments when you're not sure where to look, or what to say, or how to react.
But ... did we judge her for those tears, or for letting them flow in front of us?
Did we "there there', her, and tell her 'oh it can't be that bad'.
Did we tell her to stop crying, and be strong?
No.  We told her none of that.
We got up from where we were sitting, activities forgotten, and hugged her.  Each individually, and then as a group.
Never underestimate the power of a group hug!
We listened to her.  We let her cry.  We cried with her.  I cried with her.  No judgement. 
It simply reminded me, once again, that you really have NO IDEA what is going on in someone's life at first glance.
We, as women, can be such a powerful support to each other, but at times, we seem to forget that, and spend too much time being a judgmental bitch, to realize that we really don't know anything about the person we're judging.
Or how we're impacting them with that judgment. 
That's not right. Or fair.
None of us is better than the other.  None of our accomplishments are more important than someone else.
All of our feelings and thoughts and dreams are important.
We all matter.
So the next time you're with a group of women you don't know very well, maybe give that woman with 'resting bitch face' a smile.
You may just be amazed at how her face lights up.
If you see a co-worker struggling.  Don't think her weak.  Talk to her.  Offer your help.
You're not in a race to the finish line with your workmates, or any other women in your life.
None of you is getting out of here at the end of the day with a bigger raise, or better car, nicer house, sexier husband or perfect child.
We're all going to be in a box in the ground, or ashes on the wind.  No better or worse than anyone else.
Be kind to your fellow women, my sisters.
Draw from their strength and wisdom and personal power. Don't knock them down for it.
Don't be catty.  Don't be bitches.
Stand in solidarity and offer a safe place for your fellow females to be who they are.
We're all one. 
Offer guidance.  Offer hope.  Offer friendship.  Offer a simple smile. 
It all makes a difference. 
And YOU'LL make a difference in someone's life for doing so.

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