Why us gals must stick together now more than ever

Online bullying is everywhere — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are incredible women in the UAE lifting each other up, and why this women-supporting-women trend is here to stay
Why us gals must stick together now more than ever
Danae Mercer

Caroline Flack died last month.

It’s the same month that self love activist and actress Jameela Jamil has been raked through the coals by online trolls. The same 30 days that Meghan and Harry announced they were leaving the UK due to tabloid media. The same six months that South Korea declared it would look into cyberbullying after the second death of a K-pop star.

It’s a trend that echoes into the fame of TikTok stars (just go into the comments of Charli D’Amelio or Alex French to see just how brutal bullying can be).

These are all horrible things, and painful, tragic things — many of them caused by an online space where men and women rip each other apart.

It’s something I can understand, if only a bit. I was covered in a tabloid recently and the comments were viscous. At first, reading them alongside a girlfriend, it all seemed a bit pointed (like hey, hangups around my thighs), but funny. Only then, going through new ones by myself on my balcony, they snapped. Burned. Prickled. Stuck. I stopped allowing myself to read.

Online bullying needs to stop — but that seems obvious. Of course it is bad. Of course ripping each other down is destructive. Of course there are people on the other side of that screen. Of course, of course, and of course.

So even as we fight that fight, even as we battle against the lowest, darkest parts of ourselves and of the internet, I want to give a shoutout to women doing the opposite.

I want to look at women lifting other women. Women empowering women. Girls cheering on girls. Gals giving that glow up all around.

There are many in the region. UAE-based Vicki Jane Matheson is a charity marathoner, running races across Dubai and RAK with different empowerment-focused goals. Modibodi UAE, a period panty that helps with leaks, focuses on giving women an environmental friendly feminine option. The website uses women of all shapes and sizes. Nannette Wicker-Essick, a Dubai mom, helps empower mothers of children of determination to be the best advocate for their children. Cassie Destino, another UAE mom, works to help women through and across infertility. There are curvy college-aged models (just check out Ameni Esseibi) campaigning for all bodies of all sizes to be accepted, and eco-conscious local companies like Fyne (jewellery) and Tribe (interiors) that are focusing on supporting grassroots female communities. Espand by Maz, which is just about to launch, empowers nomadic Afghani women by using local materials. It’s made in the UAE. It’s focused on helping females.

“For the last two years we have sponsored one little girl in a place where discrimination is rife. This little girl will be given the opportunity to break free from poverty and thrive in a space where she can learn and grow,” explains Jo England, Tribe founder. The teenager is now looking forward to college.

Together, these companies, these individuals, they are changing the narrative.

It’s not about breaking each other down.

It’s all about, in their own big or small or personal way, lifting other women up.

“I reject the stereotype that women always tear each other down, because I see the opposite happen every day,” says Marlo Narch. Narch, an American based in Dubai, has set up an online community of women from around the world.

“They say negativity spreads like wildfire. But all you need is one person to reject the negativity by spreading positivity. It propagates just as rapidly.”

The spread is happening globally.

Body positive activist Sarah Nicole Landry (@thebirdspapaya) just hit one million followers on Instagram. I Weigh, the radically inclusive Instagram account, sits at the same. Feminist, an account focused on supporting other women, has now reached 3.2 million.

There are thousands, millions of women rallying around each other, shouting to lift one another up, focused on all things empowerment.

It’s an incredible thing to see.

So in weeks like this, months like this, where sometimes the bad noise can cancel out the great strides, I hope we can remember all that makes us human.

That we continue to lift each other up, empowering one another. Because ultimately, women are so much, much stronger together. And females empowering other females is a wonderful thing to see.