September 1st marks the start of International Women’s Friendship Month and today, I am reminded that nothing makes my heart happier than to see women rally around one another.Growing up, I’ll admit I didn’t have a ton of friends who were girls. It wasn’t because I was one of those girls who swore off having female friends due to an allergy to drama and cattiness (although I have come across some girls who share that sentiment). Simply put, when it came to social interaction, guys were my comfort zone. I guess when your only sibling is an older brother and you’re the niece of 9 uncles, becoming “one of the guys” is inevitable, but there was definitely a part of me deep down inside that yearned for sisterhood.
Fortunately for me, when I was 15, I found a trio of kind-hearted girls who, like me, wanted to belong to a band of ladies who’d be there for each other no matter what. Fast-forward ten years later—through family issues, failed romances, and finding ourselves—our girl squad is still intact.
There’s an indescribable bond that forms between female friends IRL. There is a special kind of love, allegiance, and understanding shared between girls that not only helps shape them into the women they will become, but also stirs them to strive for greatness in a world where strong women are now on the rise. We are living in the new era of women. More than ever before, influential images and moments of women standing by each other as a united front are a part of our mainstream media.
Within our society and across the Internet, the term ‘girl squad’ is trending, shining a light on the power of positive female friendships. With so many instances of female solidarity being celebrated within our culture, I beg to ask the question—why aren’t there more novels about positive female friendships, especially in YA?
As of late, there are very few YA novels that focus on young women building meaningful relationships with other young women. More times than not, the handful of YA novels that DO focus on the topic of female friendship depict these friendships in a negative light—with female characters twisted up in moments of jealousy, backstabbing, and viciousness with each other. Yes, in life, even the strongest of female friendships experience their share of sour moments, but it is unfair and unrealistic to have so many YA stories where young women behave terribly towards one another. Stories that portray females as nothing more than bitter rivals or leave out female interaction all together send the message to readers that girls should seek separateness from other girls because true solidarity between females can never be achieved. In this day and age, it is silly for our YA stories to perpetuate the gender stereotype that girls are incapable of being friends with each other. This has to stop.
When I look back at my high school years, my girl squad was the center of my universe. They guided me, empowered me, and were constantly there to remind me of my worth. Female friendships like these do exist in our world and they need more recognition in YA. More moving and powerful stories about girl squads need to be told.
Although we still have a long way to go in regards to this issue, in celebration of International Women’s Friendship Month, I’d like to give a special shout-out to six of my favorite YA stories that recognize the importance of female friendships and prove that women accomplish more when we stand together than we do divided.