Establishing strong social connections is essential to good mental and physical health. From BFFs to gym buddies or even ‘work besties’, friendships come in a variety of forms with each relationship tailored to suit individual lifestyles and needs. Female friendships, in particular, play a huge role in the lives of women everywhere. Whether it comes down to biological wiring or simple compatibility, the power of the girl squad cannot be underestimated.
The ’tend and befriend’ hypothesis, for instance, is the biological response of many women to stressful situations, where the hormone oxytocin is released and, when it interacts with estrogen, produces a calming effect. According to psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada, this leads women “to nurture those around them and reach out to others, often other women.” It’s literally written in our DNA. More importantly, empathy can be a powerful bonding tool, and this could be the explanation for the evolution of the modern girl squad. Because who gets you better than your best girlfriend, right?
Fostering friendships of any kind has a multitude of health benefits, from combating loneliness and depression to aiding in longer life expectancy. According to a study, “people with strong social relationships have a 50% greater chance of living longer than those with weaker ties.” With seemingly endless methods of communication, we are living in a hyperconnected society, and yet somehow, we have lost the sense of interconnectivity. Social media can be a powerful tool for connection, but even with the ability to check in on family and friends who live all over the world, there is a figurative drought when it comes to deeper relationships. Offleash’d aims to bridge this divide by creating a community where friendships are forged not just on shared interests but on complementary personality traits.
“Complementary” is often misconstrued for “homogeneity”, or the state of sameness. In truth, it speaks more to a harmonious blending of qualities that enhance each other. Girl squads and friend groups are the best examples of complementary relationships, as they are not just built on the gathering of like-minded individuals, but on the beautiful blending of differences. By bringing together people from varied backgrounds with differing points of view, more well-rounded relationships can be formed. Respect for the thoughts, feelings, and rights of others even if they differ from our own is what drives our society and our relationships with each other forward.
As December 1 is National Women Support Women Day, Offleash’d is committed to supporting the power of female friendship and the rights of women everywhere. The current humanitarian crisis of women in Iran has been a harsh reminder that not all women have the freedoms that many take for granted. While the Iranian Women’s Rights Movement has been active in the fight for women’s rights since its inception in 1910, the Iranian Revolution in 1979 further curtailed women’s freedom of speech and bodily autonomy, making it that much harder for the women of Iran to have a voice in their own country.
With the tragic death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of morality police in September 2022, the world united in the plight of Iranian women and the need to support those who can’t speak for themselves. Iranian-American writer Negar Esfandiari urges people to use their platforms to help amplify Iranian voices - “We can’t just raise awareness when big news breaks; we have to keep consistently sharing information.” This can be as simple as following Iranian journalists and activists like Masih Alinejad or donating to organizations such as the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Iranian American Women Foundation. (Before making financial donations of any kind, be sure to do your research and verify the organization to avoid charity scams.)
Every person deserves to be heard, and Offleash’d stands with those whose voices have been silenced.