There is no one right way to be a woman.

There are some women in this world who cannot imagine anything more rewarding than motherhood. Women whose happy ending involves that devoted husband, that stable home, that white picket fence. Women who would prefer to stay at home and take care of their kids than go out and work. Women who identify with the terms ‘wife and mother’, ‘stay-at-home mom’, and ‘housewife’, without any qualms or objections.

And then there are women in this world who don’t want any of that. Women who never really saw themselves as mothers, never really wanted any of that. Women who could not imagine anything more rewarding than their career. Women who never felt the need to attach themselves to a single partner for their entire lives, who were perfectly content with their own love for themselves and their passions.

And then there are women in this world who fell somewhere in between these two spectrums. Women who want both the career and the family. Women who want the children, but not the husband. Women who knew that the white picket fence was never an option for them, but worked their ass off all their life to get as close to it as possible.

All of these women, every single one of them, are valid.

There are some women in this world who enjoy wearing make-up, and dresses, and high heels. There are some women in this world who enjoy going fresh-faced, wearing oversized sweaters or yoga pants. All of these women are valid.

There are some women in this world who enjoy going out to party every single weekend. There are some women in this world who would honestly rather die, and spend their free time with a book, a cat, and some hot cocoa. All of these women are valid.

There are women who wear mini skirts, women who wear hijabs, women who kiss boys, women who kiss girls, women who kiss everybody, women who play video games, women who do make-up tutorials online, women who sing, dance, play baseball, tell jokes, get tattooed, get pierced, shave their armpits, don’t shave their armpits, shave their head, grow their hair long, do every goddamn thing that this world has to offer, and Jesus Christ – can I stop now?

My point is, there are a lot of different kinds of women out there. And all of these different kinds of women enjoy different things. And. All. Of. These. Women. Are. Valid.

Why am I saying this?

Because we as a society have this tendency to get really, really judgemental when it comes to the behaviour of other people – particularly, it seems, with women. And we all have our own reasons for doing so.

I’ve heard this judgement presented in the obviously-old-fashioned-sexist way, wherein it’s super obvious. The old mentality of, “well, she’s a girl. She shouldn’t be doing that.” This idea that women are supposed to procreate, like that’s the whole purpose to their existence (it isn’t. Trust me; people don’t have purposes to their existence, unless they’re purposes that the individual themselves has decided on and says – like an artist saying “I feel like I was meant to paint”). This idea that women are supposed to be attracted to men, and they’re supposed to cater to their every whim and need as though their husbands are children that can’t take care of themselves.

I’ve heard this judgement presented in the case of slut-shaming, where groups of people will get together and whisper about how that girl over there should really be wearing more. I mean, why doesn’t she respect herself more, am I right? (Here’s a thought: maybe she isn’t the one not respecting her. Maybe she wore it because she knows she can, and she feels good in it, and your criticisms of her choice aren’t helping anyone).

I’ve heard this judgement presented in the case of upholding a phony, restrictive definition of feminism, wherein a woman can’t wear make-up, shave her armpits, be in a relationship with a man, or wear high-heels without being a ‘slave to the patriarchy’ (and, yes, I know that there is a larger discussion that can be had here, about how women are encouraged to do these particular things by the patriarchy. But at the same time, if she’s aware of the discussion and still chooses to do it, then isn’t that her choice? Shouldn’t her choice be respected, as a full-grown woman capable of thinking for herself?).

I’ve even heard this judgement presented as a way for women to distance themselves from “other women”. To say that they aren’t like “other girls”; they like beer and sports and trucks, not all of that stupid, vapid stuff that “other girls” are into (question: why is it that only traditionally feminine pass times are dismissed as stupid and vapid? And why are we automatically assuming that all other girls are into the same stuff?).

There are probably hundreds of other ways that this habit of judging women for their behaviour is presented, because it is so deeply engrained in our society that we do it all the time, even if we know that we shouldn’t.

And we shouldn’t. We really shouldn’t. Because there is no one right way to be a woman. There is no wrong way to be a woman. As long as you identify as a woman, then you are valid, and you deserve to be treated as valid.

We spend too much time and energy and judgement; telling other people the right and wrong way to live, even if the ways that they live don’t actually hurt us in the long run. We become offended merely because of the way that the other has chosen to exist. And that isn’t fair to anybody. It most certainly isn’t fair to the women who knows how she wants to live, who knows exactly what makes her feel comfortable and happy, and yet is constantly judged and told she is wrong for doing so.

Women are intelligent and rational beings, with the ability to choose what is best for them. And women should be treated as such, whether that be in the case of a larger life decision, like whether or not to have children, or a smaller life decision, like what clothes they decide to wear that day. Either way, these are her choices to make, her life that she is leading. And we should all seek to empower her, to help her become the best person that she can be. Not tear her down and tell her how to live.

Women, we need to support our sisters. We need to help each other to live our best lives, and we need to do it together.

And there are so many ways that we can do this. All we have to do is change our judgement.

Instead of saying, “look at what she’s wearing”, we can say, “you look nice today!”

Instead of saying, “I’m not like other girls”, we can say, “oh, I’m into this thing!”

Instead of giving a judgement, we can give a compliment. Because while not every woman is the same, every woman deserves to be complimented.

Support women who do not often receive support. Love women who do not feel loved. Because our life choices, our hobbies, our clothes – none of that make us worthy of dismissal.