An illustration of a white, black and Latina women

I have an Instagram girl crush. (Woman Crush Wednesday, anybody?) Her style is effortless. Her essence is natural. Her smile is generous. She is the type of woman who you want in your circle. 

We’ve never met in person, but her presence on my Instagram feed empowers me. Her wins feel like mine, and I celebrate them like they are. She reminds me of the power women hold in their voices, their grace and their spirit. 

She reminds me of the power women hold in their voices, their grace and their spirit. 

I’m not ashamed to candidly celebrate my girl crush. I’m also not ashamed to admit that it took years of internal work to reach this display of affection. Before she became my girl crush, she was my nemesis and not the Roxane Gay definition of it. 

The best-selling writer often tweets about her numerous anonymous nemesis in such a hilariously relatable manner. The tweets are never really harsh. Petty, but not harsh. 

Gay often reiterates that the rival relationship isn’t one of sabotage. She once advised that it is best to “defeat them through your excellence rather than their failings.” She respects her nemesis and reluctantly gives credit when it is due. I personally got a chuckle from this tweet from March:

“My nemesis (not the primary) has done a truly excellent job reporting through this crisis. I can admit that.”

I couldn’t relate to that. There was a time when my jealousy would grab me by the throat if I even fixed my face to say something nice about my nemesis. Never mind liking a picture on Instagram. When I saw her, I saw all of the reasons why I wasn’t enough. Her successes made me question my own. Why couldn’t I be as radiant as her?

That had everything to do with my perception of myself. I questioned the validity of my own light. So I saw hers as a threat rather than a guide. I was too busy comparing the brightness and frequencies of our individual lights that I failed to see that we both shined. 

I questioned the validity of my own light. So I saw hers as a threat rather than a guide.

My conflict was within myself, not with her. Once I learned to shift my perspective within, what I saw on the outside followed suit. Women like her no longer intimidated me, they inspired me. I learned that I could value all that she was without minimizing all that comprised me. When you believe in the power of your authenticity, it is hard to see someone else’s as a threat.  

In order to become a woman who genuinely celebrates other women, you must learn how to celebrate yourself. Take the time to pour into yourself so that you have more goodness to candidly give to the women in your circle. I believe all women win when we celebrate each other. 

What does women empowering other women look like to you? Why is this so important?

Illustration via Rachel Chung at Yumi in Color

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