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‘Noping Out’ Is the New ‘Having It All’

No one likes archaic social obligations and unpaid emotional labor. But are enough of us saying no to them?

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There’s nothing wrong with throwing a friend a bridal shower—or packing a school lunch, or organizing the office happy hour. In fact, these are all lovely things to do. Until they’re all at once.

Women have been conditioned to give all they can and to be all things at once—a perfect parent, a doting friend, an ideal daughter. This can be overwhelming, especially as we try to juggle all the other responsibilities life throws at us.

At Glamour, we believe that women can and should be empowered to say no when they feel overwhelmed, and should not feel guilty when they do. We recently shone a spotlight on the often-unspoken challenges women face when it comes to being a bridesmaid, diving into the financial strain, the emotional toll it exacts, and the unspoken societal expectations and personal boundaries that have burdened women for far too long. Or what about something as simple as making a packed lunch? A task that generally falls to mothers and brings its own set of challenges, especially as Instagram is awash with intricate lunches that could make even the most artistic of moms feel like a failure. Burnout is real, and it has some very serious implications for our mental, physical and emotional health.

Whether it’s saying no to brides, your kids, your family, or your coworkers, consider this Pocket Collection a rallying cry for all the women out there facing similar challenges. It’s time to own our power by challenging the norm. And it all starts with a simple “no.”

Image by WeAre/Getty Images

How to Say No to Being a Bridesmaid—Or Yes With Conditions

Jenny Singer

“Saying no is already challenging. Jenny Singer really hits the note of how frequently women are pressured into accepting certain roles without fully grasping the financial and emotional strain they can impose. It's a strong reminder that it's entirely acceptable to establish boundaries and decline when the commitment doesn't match your own needs and limitations.” -Ruhama Wolle

Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble Baths and Pedicures—I Have to Set Boundaries

Ashley Jackson

RW: “Dealing with the stresses of the environment around us begs the question: How do we cope? Self-care in 2023 seems to be a radical act: saying no, standing up for yourself, setting boundaries. It’s not only about pedicures and bubble baths. This article gives examples of how exterior stress can add to migraines, and how to deal with it.”

The Best Holiday Gift? Keeping Your Mouth Shut About My Body

Danielle Sinay

RW: “Emotional labor doesn’t just come in the form of stressing over an event or feeling obligated to spend money you don’t want to, it also shows up in how other people perceive you. As the holidays approach, this story is a reminder to ‘well-intentioned’ aunts or uncles to leave our bodies alone. Body-shaming costs an emotional toll on people who are simply living their lives, especially while enjoying our favorite foods like turkey or pie.”

We Don’t: the Bridesmaid Burnout

Hannah Whitaker

RW: “The burnout is real. Traditionally, a bride’s only expectation of the bridal party was to show up on the day and smile for the camera. But today, the role of bridesmaid has expanded to mean (and cost!) so much more. This collection of stories deep-dives into the emotional weight of being a key part of a friend’s special day, and gives real advice on how to navigate these sometimes tense waters.”

11 Bridesmaids Share Their Most Cringeworthy Wedding Horror Stories

Stephanie McNeal

RW: “I appreciate these bridesmaids’ confessions because whether or not you've been a bridesmaid or a bride yourself, these stories offer a humorous and relatable take on the sometimes chaotic nature of weddings. It’s a must-read for anyone who can relate to emotional obligation in their social circles…and needs a good laugh.”

Why I Retired From Packing Lunch

Virginia Sole-Smith
Burnt Toast

RW: “I don’t know another group of people who have to deal with more emotional labor than parents. This piece gives a controversial look at how one mom decided to reduce the mental load of being a mom with one small act of rebellion.”

Goodbye to the ‘Office Mom’

Jessica Grose
The New York Times

RW: “The idea of being “voluntold” to do something hit home hard. Of course we want to work in a place where it’s normal to help a colleague or mentor a junior employee, but this “extra 20 percent” of work usually falls squarely on the back of women. Jessica Grose captures what it’s like to be the “office mom” and feeling stalled professionally for not taking on invisible tasks in the office.”

Ruhama Wolle

Ruhama Wolle is Glamour's Special Project Editor. She gained recognition for spearheading the transformative #ShareTheMicNow campaign in 2020, amplifying the voices of Black women amidst global unrest over racial injustice. She continues to lead impactful projects like College Women of the Year and has contributed to notable editorial features, including the ASME award-winning project 28 Days advocating for a national paid leave policy.