3 In Feminism

The Importance of Strong Female Friendships

I have recently decided to introduce a new segment to my blog; “Girl Talk” where I talk about all the feminine ‘stuff’. I’m going to be talking about periods, sex, and other girly things. I thought I’d start with my thoughts on Shine Theory. I wanted to talk about this because I’ve recently been spending a lot of time with my favourite, powerful women. And so I wanted to talk about why you should surround yourself with powerful women, and touch upon ‘shine theory’. An article in ‘The Cut’ described Shine theory as a solution for empowerment.

“Here’s my solution. When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people does not make you look worse, by comparison, it makes you look better.”

This was interesting to me in that there are all these theories and approaches in the world and we might be following them without even knowing it. There was something very validating about there being a theory on what I already experience. There has been no more valuable experience in my life than surrounding myself with powerful women. You may have spent most of your life surrounded by successful women and not considered it to be a positive thing. There is something very different entirely about embracing the success of the women around you and choosing it for yourself.
I feel as though for most of my life, particularly in secondary school, I had a very complicated, conflicted relationship with the success of other women, if not the women themselves, because it was always a competition and we were always being unintentionally pitted against one another.

As women go, I am considered to be among the more privileged. I fluently speak English, I have white skin, I’m blonde and I have a steady job. I’m not really threatening within the stereotypes we construct of threatening women nor threatening people. I want to talk openly about my experiences but not act like I have it the most difficult of anyone. The way I experienced most of my life until the last couple of years or so was seeing women as competition and seeing their achievements as threatening and as only having room for that one person and their achievement, thus knocking me out of the running. It felt as though other women’s successes were underwritten by some sort of external approval of what you should be, what your role should be and what your achievements should be, and that being something metric which you can measure and compare against one another. And within this act of comparison of others, you find your own inadequacy.

What strikes me most, looking back on my school years, is how much I used other people’s successes to monitor the progress of my own. It was just another way of telling myself that I wasn’t good enough. It was just a way of forcing myself into situations which I would inevitably fail at the expectations in which I’d set myself.

The extent to which we compare ourselves with other women is absurd. I don’t think women are the only people who do this, but of course, I can only speak from my own perspective, and I think that women do it to a degree that is enforced by so many external factors. As said earlier, I can only speak from the experience of a white woman. This experience may be entirely different for a woman of colour and women who don’t speak English, nor live in rich countries.

It saddens me to think of all the time I wasted feeling so threatened by other women to a point where it practically turned me against them. I stopped surrounding myself with women, and the one’s I still associated with, I felt incredibly intimated by. My being threatened by other women definitely framed my thinking in terms of achievement and in terms of goals for myself as there only being space for one.

Now, I feel very protective of my amazing female friendships.

The way in which I believed women should interact with one another and what roles they should play were very warped. Now, my lifestyle and my friendships live up to the shine theory and I completely believe in its concept. The idea that you should surround yourself with women who are powerful and are doing interesting things and are supportive of you is something we should all strive for rather than feel like we are competing with one another.

What about you, what do you make of the shine theory’s concept? Leave a comment down below.

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  • Reply
    Maurice Ashley
    April 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Love this!

  • Reply
    Caroline Holden
    April 20, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    So glad that you, as a young woman, can see these beautiful things so clearly. At your age I didn't, but I do now. I'm so very happy for you. Thank you for reminding me.

  • Reply
    Bethany Ashley
    April 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Thank you Caroline, this was such a lovely comment to read! And you're very welcome, I wish I'd worked it out a little earlier. I think I would have enjoyed sixth form a lot more!

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