The whole world is talking about…and to…Brynne Huffman…
“Today I put on a pair of mid-thigh denim shorts, a flowy white blouse, flip flops and left the house to run a couple errands….
My second errand of the morning was a drop off at the UPS store. I stood in line between two women. Woman #1 in front of me was about sixty. As I took my place in line behind her, she smiled and complimented me on my tan and my hair. We chitchatted about the weather and children until it was her turn at the counter.
It the spirit of paying it forward, I turned to Woman #2 behind me and smiled. Woman #2 was probably about 30-35, very attractive, about a size 8, wearing a shirt that says “COEXIST”.
She says: “Your hair really is amazing. ::cocks head to side:: “You should probably rethink the shorts though.”
I’ve been following the story…and Brynne…all week trying to wrap my head around this. Even now, it’s difficult to string coherent sentences together. I just kind of want to point at the screen and grunt caveman style.
Women today talk a LOT about feminism and sisterhood. There’s a presumptive narrative based on our presumed commonality. But I suspect more often than not…very few of the women spouting these platitudes even remotely understand them. And even fewer would actually sacrifice even a moment of discomfort to support another woman…or to defend another woman.
To be fair, Brynne isn’t one of those clueless women. Brynne is part of a sorority, one whose long list of members have felt the pink-cheeked shame inflicted by another woman. She understands the double gut punch a woman experiences when she’s among women, in a place of safety, and the women turn on you.
I’m part of that sorority. I was introduced to the mean girls in 7th grade and for four long years they took great joy in reminding me daily of how inadequate and flawed I was. They turned me into a ghost. I was always there but always out of sight. I was quiet and demure and indistinguishable. Not being seen was my full-time job.
I spent a lot of time analyzing their hate…trying to figure out where it came from and what allowed them to behave the way they did. Then I spent a long time rehearsing an internal monologue to them. I’d somehow convinced myself that if i could just convey how wretched they made me feel…it would somehow change things. I was never clear on what exactly it would change…years had passed and I’d moved far away. But the echoes of those mean girls still resonated in my head and I needed a ‘fix’ of some kind.
One day I realized there was absolutely nothing I could say to them that would show them what they put me through. And to be honest…i was mad all over again. But then another day, I realized they probably knew. They probably had a mean girl of their own. Maybe it was their mom or sister or a ‘friend’ but each of them had experienced the gut punch.
Fifteen years later I crossed paths with one of those mean girls…and she was happy to see me! She said she’d just been talking about me the day before to the other church wives and told them how horrible she was to me in school.
That was it. that was all she had to say about it. We hadn’t spoken in nearly 15 years, and when we did, she brought that up. And didn’t apologize! Maybe she assumed I didn’t need an apology. Maybe she assumed Jesus had already forgiven her and his forgiveness trumps mine. Maybe…she’s just still a self-absorbed harpy.
I don’t know why she did it…I can’t solve all of life’s little mysteries…I’m a busy girl. What i do know…is that while almost every woman has experienced this girl on girl hate, not everyone reacts the same. The harpys, the mean girls, pay it forward. They perpetuate the hate cycle ensuring generation after generation gets to feel that sting. But some women…women like Brynne…use it as fuel, It galvanizes them into action, it strengthens their resolve and instead of lashing out..they look for innovative ways to lift all women up! Which in turn, inspires more women to do the same.
I encourage everyone to check out her new website The Body You Have, and don’t just follow her on this adventure but support her! And while you’re at it…support ALL of the women in your life. Hand out compliments…like a LOT of them! I started today and it was great.