The Power of Female Companionship

Last Friday, I watched from our carefully positioned half-circle sideline amongst the rest of the wedding party as my best friend got married. It was a quick, beautiful ceremony that brought about many mixed emotions from within me. I was one of two maids of honor and that was alright with me, especially since neither one of us live in the same state as the bride. My own husband was there to support me in the audience, as well as two of my other best friends – one being my college friend that had introduced me to the bride 6 years ago, and the other was a coworker from a past job that I had introduced to the other two girls. My spectator friends, as well as the stunning bride standing before me in the mist of saying her vows, made up three out of my four bridesmaids that had been my support team at my wedding just one year ago this April.

As the night progressed and the bride got pulled in every which direction (as what tends to happen on one’s wedding night), the other maid of honor and I stuck together like glue and tried to calm each other’s apprehensiveness about our duel wedding speech that we had yet to carry out. When the time came, we were able to compose ourselves and put on a successful presentation with references from the movie Bridesmaids that the women in the crowd thankfully understood (and afterwards commended us for on our great performance). By the end of the night, Maid of Honor 1 and I had formed a thick bond and I had made a new female friend for life. It was hard to say our goodbyes the next day.

My new friend and I bonding–and having a blast!

The whole experience of connecting with my new female friend as well as my old ones all in the same night and context got me thinking about the power of female companionship. Like many other girls out there, growing up I didn’t have too many great girlfriends. I was always interested in the sports that the boys were doing and wanted to be just like my brother. Although I had dolls when I was little, as a preteen I traded them in for a dirt bike, a snowboard, and other things of such nature. It wasn’t until middle school that I began to make some close girl friends. Along with my mom, these girls encouraged me to start “dressing like a girl” and trade in my baggy clothing for more form-fitting, trendy outfits. To this day, I am still thankful to them for it!

Women can benefit from female friendships in many ways. A recent study from UCLA found that female companionship can help relieve stress. Prior to the study it was believed that when a member of either sex is stressed, they release hormones that cause the body to respond with a fight or flight reaction. This study found that when a woman is stressed, the hormone oxytocin is released, which shields the fight or flight mechanism and instead encourages them to “tend and befriend” or take care of and be around other women. More oxytocin is released at this time, which produces a calming effect that only occurs in women. The “tend and befriend” notion may be the justification for why women consistently outlive men.

In addition to being stress-relievers, there are many other health benefits of female companionship. Other studies have found that having friends reduces our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. Researchers have also found that women with the most female friends lived significantly longer than those without strong female relationships.

Female camaraderie can also be uplifting in other ways. By spending time with other women, we can create situations in which the male-dominated culture empowers us instead of bringing us down. Through female friendships, we can teach ourselves to be skeptical of the messages the media is sending us about how women should look and act. Together we can learn to not make assumptions based on stereotypes. The way a woman dresses, does her hair and makeup, or talks shouldn’t affect her ability to be a really great friend. Since I’ve made an active effort to look past these things, I’ve made some great female friends that I otherwise would have missed out on. My female friendships have helped shape me into the strong, confident, self-worthy woman that I am today.

What are your thoughts on female friendship? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Originally from Massachusetts, Lora came out to coLORAdo for college and decided she had found her permanent home (who can blame her since her name is in the state name)! She loves the outdoors and exploring all it has to offer by way of her favorite activities which include snowboarding, ATVing, hiking, and camping. Recently married, Lora lives with her husband and 2 dogs and hopes to expand her happy little family in the near future.

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