How female friendships can save us, from ennui, anxiety and worse

They are the most important relationship a woman will have in her life

Not too many years ago, when one of my girlfriends and I were both gloriously unemployed, we found an unusual and yet fulfilling activity to keep ourselves busy. We would go for the 11am show at the cinemas, and watch anything that was on offer. Now, if you have ever been to a matinee (interestingly, matinee comes from the French ‘matin’ for morning), you’ll know what a chick fest it is. The seats are lined with women who have just finished their household chores, arguing with their maids and mothers-in-law, dropped their tots to montessori, and are sneaking a little time out for themselves.

My friend and I got addicted to this convention. We began to dress up, put on a string of pearls and a nice shirt every time we went to the morning movies. It became our self-care routine. We loved the idea of a women’s-only space, where the girls would just come to hang out with each other, between the gnawing attention-seeking of quotidian life. It became our ‘zero period’.

I suspect much of Galentine’s Day has to do with this, too. Forget Women’s Day, where men are meant to celebrate the women in their lives. Women would rather celebrate themselves and each other. So, each year on February 13, just a day ahead of St Valentine’s Day—that icky, chocolatey, teddy bear-wasting day of red hearts—women are putting each other ahead of the men and celebrating their gal gang. Hence, Galentine’s Day.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Raima Sen as friends in Chokher Bali | Instagram@real_weaverstory Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Raima Sen as friends in Chokher Bali | Instagram@real_weaverstory

Women have come to realise that female friendships can save us. From ennui. From bad decisions. From anxiety, and worse. They really are the most important relationship a woman will have in her life. Women are each other’s safe space, a place free of judgment, a place of ease, security, escape, and refuge. A Harvard study has shown that the most successful women are those with a close inner circle of friends.

So yes, some of us celebrated Galentine’s Day. With a brunch, a glass of Cab Sauv, or a girl’s-only movie night. Everyone dressed up. Wore red lips and gold hoops. And raised a toast to relationships that only give, and don’t take.

The girl in us is being celebrated in fashion too. Miu Miu at Paris Fashion Week and Simone Rocha at London sent their models down wearing bows and ribbons. Satin bows, pussybow shirts, and gift-wrap style frocks were everywhere. John Galliano dressed his models with porcelain doll makeup. It’s almost appropriate, fashion is asking women to not dress the way men would sexualise them, but to dress for a time in their lives before the men came along.

I am not yet sure how commercial Galentine’s Day will be. Unlike Valentine’s Day, girls don’t give each other gifts, they give each other their time, an ear, and unconditional support. But I’m sure in this age of monetising everything, companies will come up with ways of marketing this day of sisterhood. Marketing specialists call it the ‘celebration economy’: celebrate a day and make money by making it consumer-friendly.

Etsy has launched a Galentine’s Day sale already. And Cosmopolitan magazine has listed a whole set of products to gift your girlfriends on Galentine’s Day. Some restaurants are throwing Galentine’s Day parties or dinners, I am told. Though it’s still largely an American trend that’s waiting to be cottoned on to by the rest of the world. Besides, it still is Valentine’s Day that seems to be getting people to spend.

But women are known to be the bigger consumer base as compared to men. From lipsticks to fashion to cars, it’s the ladies that are driving retail. And that itself is the real reason to celebrate.