Why Healthy Relationships With Women Matter

Women thrive in the presence of other thriving women. Always use your power to empower!

Aeriel Murphy-Leonard

Women make the world go around! It’s true……just ask your mother. My success at Michigan was due partly to the wonderful women that surrounded me and kept me uplifted when I was experiencing lows. But to be honest I didn’t really value my relationships with women until I started graduate school. In undergrad I was consumed with doing well in school, starting programs for students of color, and being a well rounded student. And even though I love my sorority sisters and valued our sisterhood, school was always my number one priority. But that all changed in Michigan when I met my now best friends Autumn Bullard and Ciara Sivels. Autumn was my first friend at Michigan and I needed her more than I knew at the time. When I was struggling..she was there. When I needed a shoulder to lean on…..she was there. She was there to celebrate every happy moment in my life. My story with Ciara is similar. During my first year of graduate school, I lost nearly 100 lbs which resulted in a variety of confidence issues and insecurities. Ciara always encouraged me to love and respect my body and pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone when shopping. Ciara’s building was also across the street from mine which meant when we needed a moment to vent about our PhD programs we would congregate in my lab and let whoever and whatever have it. Like Autumn, Ciara has been there for all my special moments and just like then I can call her and she will be there for me.  I cared (still care) deeply for them and they matter(ed) a lot to me.

As other woman of color, they understood all of the obstacles and challenges I faced and from day one I could lean on them for every thing. I don’t mean to go on a rant about them but those relationships taught me the importance of healthy relationships with women and uplifting each other. From there I developed and nurtured other relationships with women from different backgrounds and cultures and learned so many things, from traveling all the way to India to witness my friend Tasha get married to teaching women in Africa…these women and experiences have helped shape my life into what it is today.

Relationships with women should not and don’t have to be toxic. In a male-dominated world we all need each other to survive in this world. This is more important for women of color who lack the allies and advocates that other groups may have. Society has made us believe that we have to compete with each other and that there’s only room for one “super woman” at a time but that is not true. Women thrive in the presence of other thriving women. We easily feed off of each other’s energy and when we collaborate only great things can happen. I constantly encourage my nineteen year old niece to not fall in the trap of viewing female relationships as a burden but to nurture positive relationships with women and also realizing that disagreements should not lead to an enemy.


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