For the majority of my college career, I have spent countless hours volunteering and interning at various rehabilitation hospitals and clinics. As an aspiring physical therapist, I can tell you that there are plenty of inspiring women in the rehabilitation field and I am lucky enough to have learned under their wisdom.
Yet, one particular experience proved to me that even the greatest of female role models are capable of tearing other women down.
Last Tuesday, the Oscars popped up in a conversation between the patients and two physical therapists. Initially, the chatter comprised of which actresses were best dressed. From there, the topic served as a catalyst for merciless judgment.
One senior physical therapist retorted on Sandra Bullock’s “flat hair” and “excessive makeup,” deeming her ridiculous. Another chimed in and commented on Rita Moreno’s outrageous dress and how “idiotic” she looked. At this point, the conversation had taken a sour turn and I couldn’t help but cringe at the blatant hatefulness that came out of these womens’ mouths.
We’re all subject to gossip and it’s an inevitable occurrence in our society. Still, what makes this particular experience infuriating is the fact that these are highly educated women in their field who know better than to instigate negative commentary about women they don’t personally know, let alone at their place of work.
I myself have scrutinized women on screen but this type of behavior is best left behind within the confines of a high school cafeteria table.
I look up to these women. I aspire to be them. They are incredibly talented women who are trusted with the care of multitudes of lives but that image can so easily be shattered with even the slightest of toxicity.
Sadly, if these women are so quick to belittle women on the red carpet, who is to say that they don’t do the same to the very patients that seek their help? Working at a rehabilitation hospital often entails knowing the most personal of information about each patient.
Being a health professional requires working with a patient in their moments of deepest insecurity and pain. Day in and day out, patients entrust the care of their bodies to these women, despite their scars and ailments.
Sadly, if these women are so quick to belittle women on the red carpet, who is to say that they don’t do the same to the very patients that seek their help?
I can’t stress enough the importance of integrity, especially in the field of health care. To be respected requires consistency in character.
This experience was a first for me and it forced me to open my eyes to the reality that even women of power can also be quick to minimize other women of power.
For as long as patriarchy existed, women have been pitted against each other for reasons of exploitation. We’ve been taught to step on one another, to be jealous of one another, and to fight over success with one another.
I think we can all agree that women have made powerful strides in working together, despite their differences. Nurture one another, be a stepping stone to another woman’s success, appreciate this network of women that has much to offer the world.
It’s about time that we learn to deviate from hateful behavior and to set an example to future female professionals.
As I look within the very walls of EC, I see young women well on their way into becoming future teachers, physicians, lawyers, and writers. Yes, the future is female but let’s not forget that this path is not paved through hard work and ambition alone. I believe that behind every successful woman is an example, and that starts with us.