You've probably heard the term "girl code" thrown around quite a lot in pop culture, and perhaps in your own life as well. Everyone knows that "girl code" states that you can't date a serious ex of your pal (seriously - no matter how cute his smile is) but there's so much more to women supporting women than not pulling a Regina George and snatching up your bud's crush. The problem with "girl code" is that it almost exclusively refers to the rules of female friendship in relation to guys and romantic entanglements, and that's hardly the best use for this term. I say it's time to reinvent what girl code means and put these rules first and foremost in our brain - because it really is time that all women start having one another's backs.
1. Don't body shame anyone... including yourself.
Would you ever tell your best friend that the new skirt she bought makes her look fat? Of course not. So don't do it to yourself in front of your friends, either. Dissing your own body perpetuates a cycle of self-abuse that can be toxic - not to mention catching. Don't fall down a shame spiral and take your friends with you - instead, pledge to focus on not only the things you love about your friends, but also yourself.
2. Delete the word "slut" from your vocabulary.
So maybe you heard some rumors about a classmate's R-rated after school activities. It can be easy to throw around hurtful words like "slut" (even as a joke) but every time you use those terms you're also saying that it's okay for women to be shamed for having a sexual past. You may not make the same choices as another woman, but at the end of the day so-called "slut-shaming" hurts all women - not just the person being teased. Women deserve just as much agency over their own bodies as guys do and ostracizing women who make certain choices reinforces antiquated ideas about what's acceptable for women.
3. Don't compete with other girls simply because they're women.
As the wise Tina Fey noted in her memoir Bossypants, "You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone." Unfortunately, our society loves pitting women against one another (like, say, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston) and sometimes that makes us target in on other female competitors instead of seeing the overall picture. If you're running for class President against three candidates, you're not trying to beat the other woman in the race - you're trying to win the election because you would make the best candidate. Don't lose focus of your individuality or let other people peg you against someone else simply because you both happen to be girls.
4. Be critical of rules that hurt women.
Does your school dress code let guys wear pretty much anything they want but polices girl's clothing because it can be considered a "distraction?" That's sexist BS and you do not need to put up with it. Under this new girl code, all girls should be critical of rules and laws that put down women - it's one way for women to support each other on a larger scale.
Girl code shouldn't just apply to your friendships - it should apply to all women, around the world. These small rules encourage women to be better to one another, and for the world to be better to women.