In 2023, a perfect pink storm of events conspired to make this a year in which we could revisit and reclaim our girlish joys: the bubblegum happiness of barbiethe triumphant tours of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, and the return of Aesthetics of the year 2000. A stream of “girl” branded activities graced our social media feeds: girls’ dinner, math girl, and a hot girl walks. We adorned ourselves with bows and friendship bracelets. We were girls together.
The trend has its critics. My fellow reporters Elena Cavender and Chase DiBenedetto chronicled all the ways we girlified our year in a must-read retrospective and were ultimately unimpressed by “thinly veiled consumerism…presented as community building.”
Isabelle Christo and The cup opined that “adult women’s fervent enthusiasm for participating in the veneration of childhood raises a slightly troubling question: What exactly is so unattractive about being an adult woman?” »
The answer is: pretty much everything. Our reproductive rights are being taken away, revenge and deepfake porn remain real threats to bodily autonomy, climate change threatens our survival and many young adults in the United States I can’t pay the rent.
When did all this fun end? That ended, for many of us, some time ago.
Faced with this reality, Cristo notes, childhood is a rather attractive idea. In adolescence, friendships are formed in an instant. We didn’t have to worry about rent or taxes, or whether our image would be posted on the Internet without our consent. We do not yet know who we are and, in this way, we are free.
Cavender and DiBenedetto believe that the obsession with 2023 childhood has failed to forge a meaningful sense of community. But revisiting childhood, I found this year to be one of immense and authentic connection with other women.
The phrase “we were girls together” was shared across the internet this summer after a TikToker posted a video of a inscription on a bench in Central Park which read “For my lifelong best friend, Judy. From Janice. We were girls together.”
“We were girls together, this is killing me inside,” one comment read. “I’m on my knees sobbing,” said another. One user tagged a friend, Lila, and wrote, “This made me think of you. I’m so lucky I got to be a girl with you.”
The first example of the phrase in literature appears to have been in Toni Morrison’s 1973 novel. Sula. The book examines the bond between the main character and her friend Nel, which forms in the halcyon of their youth only to collapse in adulthood due to disagreements over sexual freedom, domestic life, motherhood and marriage. Both women seek comfort in relationships with men but ultimately discover that “a lover (is) not a comrade.” Nothing can replace their childhood bond, and in the book’s final sentences, Nel visits Sula’s grave to mourn their friendship in four words: “We were girls together.”
This year, I was grateful to be a woman and to have been a girl with other women. Our relationship with our femininity is fragile. What we love about being a woman can often turn into what we hate most about ourselves and each other.
The youth trend of 2023 may not create lasting societal change. But I celebrate that this year, when we honored our womanhood by reclaiming our girlish joys, we did it together. In movie theaters and arenas, on kitchen tables and on TikTok feeds, we have embraced each other as we are today and as we were then.