Sister Chats | Women Bullying Women and Why It Needs to Stop
Episode #08 | why is this still even happening?
This is, without a doubt, the longest post I have ever written on social media. Bear with me, though, as I try to find my voice and the best way to express my sentiments.
My beautiful sister Emma has encouraged me over the years to write, share, blog, etc some of my “momhood” experiences. At least once a week, one of my two sisters and mom receive a phone call from me, where I rant about a situation - not necessarily because I need advice or a solution, but more often I just feel the need to be heard.
Maybe I should rely on a therapist for these situations, but I am fortunate enough to have a group of women who will never judge, always shoot me straight and really just get me.
But, I also feel that other women may benefit from open dialogue and sharing experiences.
So, here we go.
If you don’t know me, let me go ahead and introduce myself. I’m Andrea. I love my family. Other than my faith, they are everything to me. I grew up one of five children, oldest girl and am still very close to my parents and sibs. We have certainly had ups and downs over the years, but way more ups than downs.
I left home to attend college in 2003, rowed for the University of Washington and did my best in college. I made tons of mistakes, learned from those mistakes and slowly found my way to the love of my life, Heath, and we were married in 2009. I became a certified Physician Assistant in 2009 and we welcomed our first child in 2012. Heath left the field of architecture in 2010 and began the tedious process of applying to medical school. He was accepted in 2012 and we moved to Arizona in 2013. I worked full time as a PA in hospital medicine, then part time and have built a successful business from home during that time, as well.
We added three more kiddos to complete our family of six.Heath began residency two years ago, which meant another move, this time from Arizona back to Seattle. We love our Seattle community and feel that we have found a lovely place to raise our family during these residency years.
A huge part of my life is exercise.
I am thankful to have found Crossfit almost 10 years ago in the tiny town of Cashmere, WA. When I left competitive athletics, I felt like a huge part of me was missing. Crossfit has filled that void for me and I am truly thankful every day for the outlet, camaraderie and love that I have found through my gym home(s). Needless to say, with four young children (ages 7, almost 6, 4 and almost 2), a husband in residency and a business to run, I rarely stop.
And when I do, it’s usually for a nap.
Recently, I attended a meet up with a few close friends and several of whom I did not know well and/or had not previously met. I love spending time with women who bring each other up; being a part of book clubs, growth groups, volunteer groups, etc has been such a positive way to learn, share and grow with other women. If I haven’t made this clear, I want to emphasize that our Seattle community is truly amazing, which is why this situation caught me entirely off guard.
When I arrived, I was welcomed warmly by several women who I know well and have grown to really care about. We chatted, sipped on some wine and waited for the remaining guests to arrive. The last of the guest came in the door, and one of those women said to me:
“Wow, YOU, in a dress?!”
There was no mistaking her tone. It was not a friend teasing me about how well I clean up. It was spoken in a way that was meant to sting.
Ok, I digress (but I think this part is important).
I am an active person, and not the most fashion-forward. My wardrobe is pretty simple. I consider athletic gear to be my “uniform”, and when I wear jeans they must only be the stretchy ones from Athleta, which fit like a glove and are just as comfortable as yoga pants.
You will never catch me in designer clothes, and my “purse” is a Patagonia backpack that goes with me everywhere, contains diapers, lip balm, lotion, a water bottle, snacks, baby items and sometimes a bottle of wine (if I’m headed to a girls night) or a six pack of delicious IPA if it’s a park date with my hubby.
You won’t find me in fancy restaurants or traveling to exotic places. I am in the throws of raising four small humans and trying my hardest to not only keep this ship afloat, but to really own it and sail! I did recently splurge and bought a few new sundresses. I’ve been holding onto dresses that I wore pre-baby and let’s face it - this body has been through a lot!
I wore one of these sundresses last night and felt good. So, you can imagine my internal feelings as this person mocked my appearance.
Later, as we were sitting and discussing the topic, the conversation took a turn, where somehow we ended up talking about our street and the neighborhood. This same person said to me, “Oh, are you still renting”?
The Seattle market is crazy, and we are here on a temporary basis. We do not know where we will end up, but anyone and everyone knows that you do not buy a million dollar house (even if you could) unless you plan on living in it for at least 5 years. Not to mention the fact that Heath is in residency. Anyone can google the salary of a resident and do the math.
So yes, of course we are renting. You know we are renting, lady.
I answered her question and confirmed that yes, we are still renting. This is where the conversation got really weird, and turned from awkward to bullying.
Thank you to those who are still reading, because here is the important part of my story. I honestly thought I misunderstood her, and had to clarify a few times to be certain as far as what she was saying.
Basically, she said that my clothing choices have been the topic of discussion amongst my neighbors.
Mean girl: “You should be more careful about what you wear”.
Me: “Did I miss something? Are you talking to me right now?”
Mean girl: “Yes, you should think about what you wear, I’ve heard your neighbors say that your clothes are inappropriate”.
Me: “I’m really sorry, but I must be misunderstanding. This (pointing to my sundress) is just about the extent of my sexy naked wardrobe.”
Me: Literally searching deep in the corners of my brain for how this could even make sense. There are 10 women staring at us now and it’s quiet. It’s very weird and uncomfortable. I can feel my face turning red … like there’s some joke that I am completely not understanding and trying desperately to figure out so I can make this go away.
Mean girl: “I’ve heard that you wear really short shorts.”
Whoa. Short shorts? Girlfriend, are you for real?
I’m six feet tall and have battled this issue my entire life. I remember being in middle school and measuring with my hands at my side to make sure my shorts met the “reach” rule. Remember that one, ladies? How your arms couldn’t reach past the bottom of your shorts or you were considered inappropriate?
Then, at some point, I decided I really just didn’t give a shit about what people thought about how long my shorts were or weren’t. If you are a tall woman, your choices are - wearing shorts that may end up being a bit shorter than they would on an average sized woman OR buying “long” bermuda style shorts that are not only uncomfortable, but not cute.
And seriously. Who gets to decide how women should dress? Who makes the rules?
It’s hard enough to be a mom. I would argue that just getting up in the morning, putting any kind of clothes on my body and rocking it out as a mom should be met with cheers and nods of mutual respect amongst moms.
You guys. I wake up at 4:30 most weekday mornings in order to get my Crossfit workout done. The 5 am crew at Loft can attest to the fact that I drag my tired ass in, often wearing booty shorts to get that shit done.
Side note - when you’re a Crossfitter, you wear minimal clothing during workouts. You can’t really powerclean wearing baggy pants. You can’t climb a rope wearing a bunch of gear.
For real, though.
I get up on these cold dark mornings to make myself better, stronger, faster. I’m a better mom with some endorphins in me. It’s not always easy to fit exercise in amongst kids and obligations. Which is why I started going to the 5 am class. Very few things get in the way of this class, so it’s a protected time that allows me to “do me” before the sun even comes up.
And yes, sometimes someone might spot me in my booty shorts (OH NO!) as I race to and from the car or water my front lawn.
From 6 am on, it’s go time. I get four kids up, fed, clothed, homework done, out the door and then come back to clean up the aftermath, start laundry, prepare meals, occasionally grab a coffee with a friend or go to an appointment for one of the kids, work (yes, I run a business from home, let’s not forget that) and by the time I do the preschool pick up, we have about two hours to play, color, prepare more food, put away laundry, blah blah blah.
The endless list that is being a mom continues. Really, truly continues until I flop my body into bed. IF I’m lucky enough to sleep 7 hours before that 430 alarm goes off, hallelujah. Some nights, I’m also up with a sick kiddo, or someone having a bad dream, etc. etc. etc.
Needless to say, I don’t really have time, energy or space to worry about what other people are doing or wearing. That is probably the most mind-boggling piece of this story to me.
What a life, to be able to sit back and judge others.
This is my cry: women (and men), let’s focus on lifting each other up.
Honestly, if I want to wear a paper bag around my house or to school pick up, that’s my choice. Nobody else gets to decide what I wear. Girlfriend, if my shorts bother you, you should have seen me in Arizona. I’m giggling at the thought of how I used to walk my pregnant self to the mailbox in booty shorts and a sports bra because I was that freaking hot and miserable. Maybe my neighbors laughed at the sight of me waddling to and fro, bending over to pick up babies, who really knows?
I don’t care. Maybe I stopped caring after I started having children.
“Maybe the fourth time a tiny human came out of
my vagina was the point at which I decided
that my body is an awesome
machine that can do anything.”
Maybe the thousands and thousands of squats I have done over the years during Crossfit give me a self-assurance that others aren’t used to. I love my body. I love how strong I am. I love that I can lift my seven year old without thinking about it. I love that I can throw around a huge car seat without worrying about whether or not it is possible. Sure, I went from a C cup to a AA (literally was measured by a girl a few months ago at American Eagle after realizing that none of my bras fit anymore). I had to ask the girl a few times for clarification - “wait, are you sure? Is AA bigger or smaller than a ‘single’ A”?
She assured me, AA is the smallest bra size you can have.
You guys, I am telling you this because we all have a story, insecurities, worries about our bodies, etc. I’ve just grown into mine and am pretty much over stressing about it.
And, you know who else loves my body and tells me on the regular? Heath. Hell, I would keep working out every day for the rest of my life to have my husband grab my ass and tell me how much he likes it. That’s real talk.
Women, let’s love our bodies. Let’s keep moving them. Let’s keep wearing booty shorts if that’s what we like to do. Let’s wear sweat pants if that makes us feel good. I support you.
I’m going to end with this::
The other day, our third kiddo turned four. When I picked her up from school on her birthday, she came out of the classroom kind of discombobulated, trying to hold onto her bike helmet, school bag etc. And, she was carrying a paper crown.
Turns out, this is a birthday crown that her lovely teacher made for her during school. I saw her trying to put the crown on her head, no doubt to show me. A little girl walked up to her, grabbed that paper crown and positioned it perfectly on my daughter’s head. She then took Lily’s hand and they walked toward us with huge smiles on their faces.
To me, this is the perfect image of friendship and sisterhood. Many of you have seen this quote, and I think it is just perfectly fitting for this situation.
“Real queens fix each others crowns”
I want to recognize a few women who have been influential in my life.
Some of my Washington Rowing soul sisters. We laughed, cried, sweat, loved.
I held down the bow seat for our 2007 National Championship 2V boat.
This was one of the most exciting, intense days of my life. We took home 6th place, and I felt so proud of the team.
Sisters pre-baby bodies:
Those were the days!
This is me, in my typical post-workout gear. Get it, girl!
Me in my “slutty shorts” running to pick up the kids with the stroller
One of my mentors and coaches, Ariel (left).
She has three kids and is a total badass. No excuses from this woman! Bethany (right) owns our Crossfit gym and is a class act! She takes care of so many people and has changed our lives for the better! These women set the right example for women all over the world.
I met Somone doing Crossfit in Phoenix. As a coach, she taught me to push myself and own my body. She is now pregnant after a difficult road and openly shares her struggles, fears and love with all of us. I love and respect how open you are, Somone! You have touched many lives.
Look at these women. They are strong, beautiful and own their bodies.
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Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!