Whip It! is currently struggling at the box office, which is disappointing for several reasons, most notably because we need more films that depict women bonding over something that doesn't involve a wedding ring or a pair of shoes.
Whenever female friendships are portrayed on the big screen, they usually fall into to the straight woman/wacky best friend pattern, or the sassy girlfriends crew, or the underminer best friend plot line which basically presents female friendships as time bombs that stand in the one of one's career or eventually happy ending with a man. It's a shame, really, as a more honest depiction of female friendships—particularly the difficulty many of us have in making friends as we get older—could be quite interesting to watch.
Rachel Dickinson of Smithsonian.com notes that roller derby, currently in the spotlight once again due to Barrymore's film, is popular with women not only for the athletic and theatrical elements, but because it provides a "a kind of athletic sisterhood that's tough to find once you leave high school or college."
And she's right: the insta-friend factor (or, at the very least, insta-acquaintance factor) that comes along with organized sports, or dorm floors, or various extracurricular activities is hard to replicate after school comes to an end, and roller derby, open to active women of all ages, provides that type of bonding experience. Roller derby, I suspect, is not only popular because of the thrill it brings, or the exercise and empowerment it provides, but also, if even just a little bit, because it offers a chance to make friends, which, for some of us anyway, is harder to do as you get older.
I have moved three times in the past five years, and most of my college friends are scattered around the country. I am a terribly shy person, and organized activities at school always provided a kind of structure that made it much easier for me to make friends, as there were set goals that everyone shared and people involved were generally like-minded. But now that I'm older, I find it harder to push myself to show up to anything if I don't have a friend to tag along with. It's a pretty frustrating cycle for the socially anxious among us: when you're new in town, you look to such activities to try to meet people, but at the same time, it's so hard to show up alone. However, pushing myself to do so has paid off, in that I've met many lovely people as a result. I'm not going to lie though; it's tough.
Often enough I feel like a complete weirdo for getting as nervous as I do over such things, but at the same time, I don't think there's anything incredibly unusual about this, as many of my friends, also displaced to new towns filled with strangers thanks to various job offers and the whims of life, have gone through similar experiences. Perhaps if there were more films like Whip It! which celebrated the love, empowerment, and support of female friendships instead of sassy zingers and man-trappin' trips, those of us who find ourselves hesitating would all be a little less afraid to just get out there and jump in.
So what do you think, commenters? Do you find it harder to make friends as you get older? And what steps do you take to meet new people?