Northampton Press

Friday, April 3, 2020

Another View

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 by The Press in Opinion

Our girlfriends bring something special to our lives

Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz.

Lorelai Gilmore and Sookie St. James.

Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbes.

Dorothy Zbornak, Rose Nylund, Blanche Devereaux and Sophia Petrillo.

Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson and Poussey Washington.

Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone.

Monica Geller, Rachel Green and Phoebe Buffay.

Rhoda Morgenstern and Mary Richards.

You will surely recognize many of these characters names — some old and some new. Television shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Friends” have great female friendships that we, as viewers, can relate to — because what would we ever do without our girlfriends?

What better day to celebrate this special kind of friendship than Sept. 15? Every third Sunday in September is marked as National Women’s Friendship Day.

In a Sept. 19, 2009, HuffPost article titled “On Women’s Friendship Day: Five Ways to Make Yourself a Keeper,” Irene S. Levine, a freelance journalist and psychologist, writes, “The day is intended merely as a reminder of the contributions female friendships play in enhancing our health and emotional well-being at every stage of life.”

Levine continues by quoting Melanie Schild, executive director of Kappa Delta sorority, creator of National Women’s Friendship Day: “Our main goal is to encourage women to recognize the value of female friendship, something that is often taken for granted.”

Sept. 15 happens to be the day our local PBS station, PBS39, is holding a Sesame Street event to honor the program’s 50th anniversary, and my family and I are going with my cousin, who is my best friend, and her daughter. What a perfect day for us to get together!

Relationships with our female friends, and who those friends are, constantly change from the time we’re going through the fun, and sometimes awkward, experiences in high school to when we’re basking in our it’s-finally-here retirement.

But if we’re lucky, sometimes the friends we make early in our life stay with us forever.

For me, during teenage years, a lot of friendships revolved around social interactions — who was going where and with whom — but also included some deep connections.

Then in adulthood, and especially when I became a wife and mother, I depended on my mom friends to help keep me sane. Play dates are not just for the kids!

I think some of the female friendships I currently have are some of the most memorable and most important. Just a couple weeks ago, two of my girlfriends and I did a pottery class together. It was so nice to get out of the house — without a diaper bag — to do something new and fun and to chat about whatever we wanted. I think next time we’ll do a paint and sip!

In my later years, I hope the solid relationships I’ve had in the past and now make for continued great friendships.

I can relate all of my personal experiences to you, but what does science say about female friendships?

In the Aug. 16, 2018, Psychology Today article titled “The Importance of Female Friendships Among Women — Unbreakable Female Bonds Can Solidify Your Happiness,” Kristen Fuller, a physician and clinical mental health writer for Center for Discovery, writes, “The psychology behind strong female friendships is strong. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, women with early-stage breast cancer were four times more likely to die from cancer if they didn’t have very many friends. Those with a larger group of friends with early-stage breast cancer had a much better survival rate. This beneficial effect of friendship was felt whether the friends lived near or far.

“An article published on The New York Times website states that women feel they can count on their friends to pull through for them no matter what they are struggling with in their lives. Women are each other’s emotional support system. From giving advice, being a shoulder to cry on, keeping secrets, lending a listening ear and boosting self-esteem, to developing strong and healthy female friendships is something all women can benefit from,” Fuller said.

Has National Women’s Friendship Day and this column gotten you intrigued to do something with girlfriends? Look into these two events, which are appropriately themed, both occurring in Bethlehem. Queens Crown Queens will take place 1 p.m. Sept. 15 at Coal Lounge & Grill. Women’s Weekend takes place 1 p.m. Sept. 13 and 11 a.m. Sept. 14 and 15 at various shops, restaurants and other venues collectively participating in the event. Both events can be found on Facebook, have a cost and have tickets available online.

I hope you take some time to show your appreciation of and love for your girlfriends in recognition of this special day. Happy National Women’s Friendship Day, ladies.

I leave you with a simple and profound quote from Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter in her documentary “Life Is But a Dream” — “I love my husband, but there’s nothing like a conversation with a woman who understands you. I grow so much from those conversations. I need my sisters.”

Stacey Koch

editorial assistant

Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press