Changing the Mean Girls Narrative (or Why I Co-Lead Mamas & Co.)
Many people have asked me why I joined Lianne Kim to lead Mamas & Co. a year ago. I’m an engineer, my small business is primarily B2C rather than B2B, and I had only known Lianne for a year. But my story actually starts before I became an entrepreneur. It starts when I was 10 years old, and the bullying began.
As a kid I was strong-willed and confident with who I was. In other words, I didn’t really try to fit in. I just did me. But I was (and still am) pretty sensitive and emotional. And it turns out, that made me a prime target for my first experience being bullied. I was invited to “friends’” houses and intentionally excluded from activities, or pressured into situations I didn’t want to be in. I was called names. Girls would not-so-subtly whisper things about me, spreading untrue rumours. I was told, indirectly, that I was not good enough for them.
My self confidence took a hit, but I persevered. I don’t remember how they did it, but my parents helped me truly believe that I was good enough. I thought changing schools in grade 7 would give me a clean slate, but the psychological bullying continued - and gosh, can 13-year-olds be cruel.
The thing is, I knew that none of this meant I was any less of a person. I came out of this period of my life stronger for it, but I sure as hell didn’t want to re-live it. As I matured, those days grew more and more distant and I got back the self-confidence I had lost. But my understanding of how girls, and by extension women, treated each other was jaded.
Sadly, it was very difficult for me to trust women. Until I became a mom.
I slowly started to open up and create stronger bonds with women. But part of me remained guarded. Part of me was still remembering those mean girls and was afraid it would happen all over again. I was slow to open up, and slow to trust.
But as I met more new moms in my neighbourhood, I realized that I was not surrounded by mean girls. I was surrounded by strong, supportive women who were fumbling through motherhood just like me. Then, when I was on my second maternity leave, I attended my first Mamas & Co. meetup. I found more women who were there to support one another beyond the sleepless nights and baby-related questions. I had found my tribe.
As I matured as a business owner I started to see some of the mean girl mentality creep back into my life. Luckily, it’s few and far between, but it happens. Passive aggressive posts on Facebook. Talking about someone or their business behind their back. Stating opinion or hearsay as fact. And often, I don’t even think people know they’re doing it.
But for whatever reason, and even if we don’t admit it to ourselves, it seems that we have a hard time watching others succeed. Perhaps it’s because human beings have historically had to deal with scarcity (food, water, shelter) and it’s still embedded deep in our DNA. I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I know that it has to stop.
Female entrepreneurs have the opportunity to lead by example. We have the ability to show our daughters and sons how women can work together. We can show the world what is possible when women are supported by one another, without hesitation. And the women in this community are some of the most amazing and inspiring people I’ve ever met. I know that when we’re part of a tribe that is truly focused on community over competition, we will change the world.
So, why did I join Lianne to co-lead Mamas & Co.? Because I want to change the mean girls narrative. Our members embody this every day. I have skills that I saw could help Lianne, and I wanted to support this community that helped me re-gain my faith in women. We can help spread the message that women can work together and support one another unconditionally. By ending the mean girls narrative in business, it is my hope that we can help our daughters end it in their circles too.