As I stared at the screen, images flickering, I didn’t feel
empowered. When I saw the word written proudly under celebrity Instagrams, I
didn’t experience a zip of glee. And as the hashtag grew to covering friends
social media accounts, I felt uncomfortable, not satisfied.
You see, I don’t like #squads.
Introduced to us on mainstream media from Taylor Swift and her squad of Victoria Secret models on that video, following a year in counting adorning Instagrammed photos, #squad and #squadgoals has skyrocketed.
Squads are the newest way of being cliquey without anyone calling you out and saying “hey, you’re being cliquey”.
When Bad Blood debuted, I hated it. Instead of girl empowerment I was expecting, all I could see was girl hate. Aesthetically beautiful Victoria Secret models helped Regina George Taylor Swift take down her Arch Nemesis to the delight of the media. She was applauded for taking down another girl and walking with her #squad through the desert as explosions go off and they all look oh-so-hot-and-glamorous. Selena Gomez wasn’t Cady Heron and everything was solved to a peaceful end – she was Janice and there was no forgiveness on either side. Taylor Swift stayed Queen Bee.
Squads don’t symbolise girl power. Squad is a word to its core that screams EXCLUSIVITY. It’s a hair flick away from the High School Queens; think Quinn from Glee in her Cheerios outfit publicly shamming Rachel Berry.
Squad is a big fat YOU WISH YOU WERE US. There’s no empowerment, just lots of secret smiles and glances to you making you feel left out. There’s no girl to girl love. By having Taylor Swift in a boob tube and short skirt while Selena (or Arsyn as her character is called. You know, like poison?) is in a ruffled, high necked PVC blouse and skater skirt. It makes us automatically see Catastrophe as the sexy
girl and Ayrsn as the less cool friend, so when Ayrsn betrays her, we start thinking “hey, maybe she’s jealous of Taylor Catastrophe”. Yeah, already there’s got to be some girl on
girl competition between two friends, because when isn’t there?
Is that girl power?
I think not.
#Squad is the newest “you cant sit with us”. It’s being left out of games in Primary School or not being invited to sleepovers at 14. It’s the backhanded compliment, a giggle with a subtle middle finger no one notices. It’s a feeling of not being good enough, not worthy enough, to be in this Godlike elite group. You would be #blessed to be in this #squad, because after all they’re #squadgoals. But you aren’t and that’s what makes it sweeter for
the squad and bitter for you, because you’re sitting on the other side of the fence.
Dissecting exactly why I hate squads of the #squadgoals movement is hard. It feels like a kickback to every other girl, like if I publicly say ‘no I don’t like squads’ I’m somehow a girl hater. I’m pushing back ‘girl power’ when I don’t see or feel the empowerment. I watched Bad Blood and I was very aware how unskinny and very brunette I was. Instead of gleeful
excitement and empowerment, there was only a feeling of excessiveness and a hollow feeling of being well, left out. Bad Blood brought squads into our mainstream language and then dictated how exactly a squad should be. Look at any of the gossip stories so many magazines now publish (Vogue, I’m looking at you) and you see how todays celebs and Insta-models have their #squads spoken about like they’re the cool kids in school. What happened to celebrating women in general? Why do I have to be leggy and blonde to be praised for being badass? Since when did what a girl look like make her more badass than the woman sitting in an office designing the next thing for NASA or the medical field?
Why do girls have to been in aesthetically pleasing crews to be valued highly, and publically?
And why does there have to be misogyny when it comes to girl squads, because there’s an idea girl can’t compete unless it’s between other girls?
Which is why we’ve got #squadgoals as a way of weighing up each group of women and deciding who’s best; so similar to the magazine polls of ‘who wore it best?’
It seems I’m not the only one against the Instagram beloved hashtag. Tweeting about the hope of #squad dying in 2016 and women tweet back sharing a similar wish. The slim and whiteness of T Swizzle’s squad carries a conversation of how damaging it would be as a young girl right now. There’s the message of being valued or part of a squad; you’ve got to be white, thin and blonde. Or atleast in Taylor Swifts crew. *It should be noted Zendaya is part of the squad who goes on to fight Selena, but that doesn’t stick in people’s
minds.* Then there’s the ‘your friends are shit compared to mine ha ha ha’. You know, that this-girl-is-better-than-you thing?
Squads might sound cool and get you a few Insta likes, but girl empowerment isn’t about segregating women into groups. We’re to stand together against everything telling us to hate each other, fight between each other and pass over for approval of a
‘higher power’. Girls don’t just stab each other in the back or fight between each other.
We’ve got bigger things to do with our time, because we are smart and awesome and super cool.
Without the hashtag of #squad. We’re friendly.
Let’s not reintroduce the Mean Girls mentality. Regina got hit by a bus before she saw the light, so I think we can skip that step.
With that, I say thanks but no thanks. I’m happier to be in an all-inclusive girl gang that promotes girl support and power, than squads pitted against each other.
That gang? It’s me and the rest of girls around the world.
All my love,
Want to send an email? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org