An Open Apology To All The Girls I’ve Been Mean To

22 Apr

I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve said that I’m not like other girls, implying that there was something defective or inferior about being a girl. I’m sorry for how hard I’ve tried to be “different,” not because being different felt authentic but because I was afraid that I would never measure up to you.

I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve made fun of traditionally feminine things, like make-up and pretty clothing. I’m sorry that I derided these things as stupid and frivolous – the fact that I did that says more about my own insecurities than it does about anything else.

I’m sorry that I called you a slut. What I meant was that I was jealous that boys wanted to sleep with you. What I meant was that I was jealous of how comfortable you seemed to be in your body, how easily you wore those short skirts and low-cut tops. I could never imagine what it must feel like to be as happy or as beautiful as you, and it seemed like your pleasure was somehow my loss.

I’m sorry for how often I’ve talked about you behind your back. I’m sorry for how meanly glad it made me to strip you down and bare all your petty little faults over coffee with a mutual friend.

I’m sorry for all the times that I’ve told myself that talking about you behind your back was fine because I was doing it from a place of love and concern.

I’m sorry for all of the ways I sneakily took out my anger on you, saying sly little things to cut you down or else aiming a thousand cruel barbs straight at your heart. I was too afraid to confront you over what you’d done, so instead I tried to hurt you as badly as you’d hurt me.

I’m sorry for all of times that I failed to back you up when you were right just because I wanted the approval of the men sitting at the table. I’m sorry for all of the anti-woman garbage that I’ve laughed at and pretended to agree with just because I wanted to be a chill girl. I’m sorry that I was afraid to stand up for what I believe in.

I’m sorry for all of the ways that I’ve undervalued our friendship, or left you feeling unappreciated. I’m sorry for how often I’ve taken you for granted.

I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve prioritized my relationships with men – all men and any men, not just the ones that I’ve dated – over my relationship with you. I’m sorry for how often I’ve ditched you to hang out with the boys and assumed that you’d be cool with it because, hey, boys. I’m sorry for how frequently I’ve made you feel that you are lesser than. I’m sorry that I’ve treated you as if you were lesser-than.

I’m sorry for all of the times that I made you feel as if we were secret competitors for titles like The Smart Girl, or The Funny Girl, or The Writer Girl. I’m sorry that I bought into the idea that there could only be one of each, and that one of us would have to fail in order for the other to succeed.

I’m sorry for all of the times that your successes made me so sick with jealousy that I could barely stretch my mouth into a smile. I should have celebrated them, but instead I thought about how much of a failure I was compared to you.

I’m sorry for all of the little tricks that I pulled to make you feel unwelcome. I’m sorry for the cliques, for the obvious laughter at your expense, for the notes that you weren’t-supposed-to-see-but-yes-of-course-you-were-supposed-to-see. I’m sorry that I’ve allowed these tactics to bleed into my adult life, into workplaces and friendly get-togethers and social media.

I’m sorry that I encouraged you to confide in me, and then treated your secrets like a sort of currency that could buy me higher social standing or else five minutes of some boy’s of attention. It didn’t do me any good anyway – all it did was teach other people that they couldn’t trust me.

I’m sorry for all of this and more. I’m sorry for the ways that I’ve been a bad feminist and a bad friend. I can’t change what I’ve done – all that I can do is apologize and promise to do better.

I’m so sorry.

And I will do better.

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38 Responses to “An Open Apology To All The Girls I’ve Been Mean To”

  1. T. Greenfield April 22, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    Honesty, I love it.

  2. Melissa Fong aka @InternationalMF April 22, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    apology accepted : )

    hah. great post.

  3. himigmeansmelody April 22, 2014 at 2:29 am #

    You said so many things I never knew I wanted to say myself. I feel rebuked somewhat for what I’ve done in the past hahaha… it takes great courage to admit your weaknesses.
    Thank you for sharing this with us. I love your honesty.

  4. LauraALord April 22, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    This had to be extremely difficult to write. Well done. Keep being brave.

  5. swo8 April 22, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    I know your sorry, now is the time to forgive yourself.
    Leslie

  6. Elizabeth Hawksworth April 22, 2014 at 2:44 am #

    I’m sorry, too. I love you. <3 I hope you always know that.

  7. haddayr April 22, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Yeah, I think I officially love you now.

  8. Simplexvita April 22, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    Amazing. This is simply worded and articulated well.

  9. Simplexvita April 22, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    Reblogged this on Simplexvita and commented:
    This is amazing! Relatable in either accepting the apology or writing it. More people need to see this perspective

  10. Vesper April 22, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    As someone who was bullied quite for at least four years during the phases of the ‘adolescent trauma’ secondary/high school time, I can truly appreciate this kind of apology. You are a lovely inspiration. I will keep reading your blog certainly. Read mine if you get a chance. Keep on rocking on.

  11. anawnimiss April 22, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    I’ve been on both sides of the table, and see EXACTLY what you’re saying :-)

  12. Leeron April 22, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I love this!

  13. Abby Boid April 22, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Im sorry too. Must do better. But getting there.

  14. Hannah Renowden April 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    An amazing post! I’ve felt these words both ways.

  15. deweydecimalsbutler April 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    This is beautiful and profound, Belle. Thank you.

  16. justme3362 April 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Reblogged this on icantmakethisshitup and commented:
    This is a message I grapple with every day. As always, belle jar says it much better than I could!

  17. Monique Judge April 22, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on journalista lite and commented:
    [this is good]

  18. Guerino Panfile April 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Girls. How do I raise them to diminish the complex roller coaster?

    • VFGremlins April 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      My dad did it by (try not to gag on how corny this is!) emphasising compassion, and teaching us to try and see other people’s point of view, whether it was our classmate, a media figure, or a homeless person. He challenged us to ask ourselves *why* we reacted the negatively to some things (why is make up bad? Why is calling someone a girl/gay an insult? What’s bad about being those things?), and encouraged us to work towards being who we *wanted* to be, instead of just not being ‘x’. He taught us how to see the people we looked down on as similar to ourselves, and that it was mostly luck that gave us things that made us different. A constant refrain in our house was “It’s not a competition!” He NEVER called us beautiful*, but he said he was proud of me and that he trusted me to do the right thing, and he praised my sister for being considerate and hardworking. He told us to think for ourselves.

      Don’t get me wrong, we had our fights and I still think he’s kind of a curmudgeon sometimes, but it’s hard not to respect a man who taught me I could be awesome without being a jerk about it.

      Good luck!

      *This’ll get commented on, so let me clarify. The standard compliment or endearment my dad had for his kids was not based on physical appearance or gender, and I think that’s important cus a lot of girls grow up hearing “pretty girl” or “beautiful girl” more than any other comment, and kids can be quick to pick up on recognising what things are likely to get them attention or praise and what will get ignored. I’m not saying to tell your kid that they’re ugly or that beautiful is bad, but try hard to not make appearance the only thing that gets your kid positive attention.

  19. carlypuch April 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    LOVE this post. So honest and beautiful. We can all learn from this type of self-reflection

  20. sarah April 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    This is perfect I love that you acknowledge the imaginary competition girls put themselves in with their friends. I have been on both sides of that — the winner & the loser. Neither is fun. Apology accepted.

  21. sland24 April 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    Reblogged this on What 24 Looks Like and commented:
    Amen

  22. tisfortea April 22, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    This is great, honest and very true!

  23. bonneliza April 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I want to read this to my daughters when they get to middle school age, if for no other reason than it gives an inside look into the minds of women everywhere and why it is we do and say the things we do. I’ve certainly done all of the things you apologize for and I have been on the receiving end of many of them. Neither is pleasant.
    “It’s not you, it’s me” really is true and if only we could all be more comfortable talking with and getting to know ourselves rather than projecting our insecurities onto others thereby creating even more insecurity. Beautifully written. Thanks. :)

  24. Rosie April 23, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

  25. mommyincolor April 23, 2014 at 1:54 am #

    I’ve always rejected that whole “girly girl” thing and treated as something girls with nothing else going for themselves. My daughter is a girly girl and I’ve rolled my eyes and sucked my teeth at her love of pink, Barbie dolls, and boy bands. I thought I was teaching her that there ‘s more to women than those things. But she was teaching me that REAL women display their femininty for all to see. For that, I’m sorry to all the girls Ive sneered at and especially to my baby girl…Mama got it wrong this time.

  26. Mel April 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    You teach me and make me think so much.

  27. Kim April 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    This. I love this. Just wonderful.

  28. respectthyselfienyc April 25, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    This is a great point, especially regarding the bit about success. I had a boss once who made a point to NOT make other women’s lives hell just because she had to go through hell to get where she was. A lot of women think they have to make other women work just as hard as they did to fight gender biases, and when we feed into that it can make us all quite miserable! Thanks for sharing your awesomeness :)

  29. babedroughtdesigns April 26, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Reblogged this on BabeDroughtDesigns.

  30. literalnut April 29, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    This is absolute perfection.

  31. mealyworm May 2, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Reblogged this on mealyworm and commented:
    An incredible piece of writing

  32. sammykur May 19, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Standing up for what you belive in when you stand alone is truly a coragouse act,its something that feels unatural until you do it repeatedly,after standing alone seems natural like you have been doing it all your life,but it is a learned behavior and like learning almost all of have many failures along the way-its called just being human

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