Sorry, I don’t want to be part of your girl squad
And that doesn’t make me a bad feminist
From Taylor Swift to Kylie Jenner ‘squad goals’ has become part of our vocabulary (online and IRL). Celebrities have always been admired for their style, their diets and their exercise routines, but more recently, we have started to look up to celebrities for their ability to come together to create the perfect girl squad. However, unlike fashion and lifestyle, friendships are much more personal. They depend on the people in the group and not every girl squad is a positive place. For a long time I felt guilty about thinking this – because young women are made to think that they are bad feminists for not supporting their sisters unconditionally.
The media is flooded with Taylor Swift and her squad, which includes Karlie Kloss and Selena Gomez. They have become our ultimate squad goals. They have been called feminist icons, simply for being powerful women who have seemingly formed powerful friendships with each other. They support each other, stick up for each other and have endless photographs taken together. However, beneath their desirable, shiny exterior, girl cliques are often filled with competitiveness and exclusion.
The rise of squad goals, has made fitting into a group a key ambition for young women, making those who have trouble fitting in or who just don’t get on in that environment feel guilty and displaced. Swift and her squad are feminist heroes for supporting each other the way they do. However, women do not get along with each other simply through the shared experience of being women. There needs to be more to a friendship than that.
While girl squads can be positive and supportive, we need to end the narrative that girl power is tied up in the idea of girl squads. We can support our sisters in their careers, show solidarity in campaigning to improve issues currently facing women and cherish the positive female friends in our lives. Not being part of a girl squad does not make you a bad feminist. Recognising that girls can be manipulative and spiteful doesn’t make you a bad feminist either, because, guess what, girls are people, and people can be manipulative and spiteful. You shouldn’t feel guilty for bringing these things up as a feminist. Young women are beautiful and powerful and creative, but we shouldn’t feel pressured into joining groups that we are not comfortable in or to still support people who have been mean to us personally.
Girl squads can be a hotbed for jealousy, competitiveness and power play. You’re either in or you’re out and if you’re out, get ready for massive FOMO every weekend. I know I am not the only young woman who feels this way. When I bring it up, my female friends have been able to recount their own negative personal experiences with girl squads. The experience of feeling alienated from girl groups, doesn’t mean you should feel alienated from feminism though. Feminism is firstly a political movement and our personal relationships should not influence our beliefs in that way.
All too often, you can only be in a girl squad and hang out with them if you meet certain criteria, which usually involves changing parts of yourself to fit in. I’m not here for that, and I don’t think you should ever be either. If you have found a squad that lets you be 100 per cent yourself then well done, and that’s really lucky. However, I have not found this to be the case. I have seen other people sacrifice parts of their personality to fit into a clique and I don’t think that is something we should have to do.
I prefer one on one friendships that allow for real connections, where you don’t have to put on a show or be loud or change who you are. Most of my life has been defined by individual friendships rather than group ones. Sometimes we all hang out together but it’s all very looseknit and no one feels left out. It’s much easier to find one person who gets you than to find a whole group who accept you as you are. Many people find that the balance of both works well, but I definitely think you need more in your life than one group of friends. It can become suffocating to be doing the same things with the same people everyday. Let a girl live! The successful careers of each member of Taylor Swift’s squad would suggest that being part of a girl squad still allows you to be independent, but a lot of the time, cliques do absolutely everything together. I like to be on my own. I enjoy my own company. I love being around people as well, but not all the time. I don’t ever want to feel trapped with people who make me feel uncomfortable or left out.
I don’t need your girl squad, I’d rather just go for a coffee on my own, thank you.