A friend of mine threw a costume party recently and I bought an outfit online to wear (dumb move). When it arrive and I tried it on, it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t gonna work. So, I offered it to a sweet friend of mine who I thought it would flatter better than me. She came over to try it on and looked like a goddess/model in it. And, while I was happy to help her out, a dark corner of my mind thought, “great… you’ve just fueled your competition” – as if I’m in a race with her to see who can look the cutest at this party. Almost as if she is the enemy. Ridiculous.
What is my DAMAGE? What is ALL of our issue(s)?
Because y’all KNOW it’s not just me who has these undesirable thoughts creep in…
Women are competitive. Everyone knows this.
But just because it’s a universally understood thing doesn’t make it ok. It’s NOT ok!
It hurts us as a gender.
It hurts friendships – even if you truly love the person you’re ‘up against,’ this sense of rivalry is divisive.
This happens in the most deceptively subtle ways… oftentimes I think men don’t even pick up on those nuanced jabs we throw each other in conversation. But, we know. Women – no matter how sweet your face and tone are… if you use your words or implications to even slightly tarnish another woman’s reputation – you’re doing something wrong. I think we so often justify those little barbs by denying our true motives. We feel threatened. So, we attack FIRST.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the last few months. Being single on the dating scene exaggerates any existing insecurities or fears that feed into the feminist competition. “Why is she getting more dates than I am?” “Why did that guy message HER on OKCupid, but not me?” “Why don’t they serve brown rice at the upscale sushi place?” Ok… so some rogue questions sneak into my emotional inner dialogue. Sue me.
And it occurs to me, that – like SO many ‘bad’ things in this life – the root of this struggle is – fear.
We fear that another woman will be better than us.
We fear she will…
- get the affections of men more than we will
- succeed in her endeavors more than we will
- make us look bad/worse by being more beautiful/skilled/witty/etc.
- be happier
And this happens in every arena:
- Working moms vs. Stay-At-Home-Moms
- Single women vs. Married women
- Blondes vs. Brunettes
- Extroverts vs. Introverts
- Athletes vs. Academics
And on and on it goes…
In the physical realm alone, there are SO many ways to beat out the competition if you want to. It starts small – sucking in the tummy and wearing high heels… then to wearing spanx to “smooth the curves” to dying your hair… And then it’s eyelash extensions and vein lasering and electrolysis and hair extenstions and microdermabrasion… and tummy tucks and breast augmentation and nose jobs and ….. I’m out of breath.
And I can’t keep up.
I can’t AFFORD to!… but also – I’m not sure I WANT to. Where does it end?
It’s an endless climb up a seemingly futile ladder…
Just the other night, I was in a conversation about hair removal where I realized two of my friends spend ultimately thousands of dollars on hair removal… do you KNOW how much ice cream that would buy??
How nice would it be if we did the same thing we want men to do with us – assigned each other good motives, encouraged each other, helped each other JUST because we love one another and not just to gain some kind of moral high ground…?
The way it starts – is by identifying the reason behind the fear.
For me – and for anyone who still has hope/optimism – I believe that there is something greater than me at work in my life. I believe that God is “sovereign” (meaning – he is in charge and orchestrates all things). If I REALLY believe that, then I wouldn’t have to try to control my own circumstances SO much. I wouldn’t have to worry that my friend looking smokin’ hot in a dress I gave her, will somehow bring HER the affections of the man God has for ME.
Do I think I can thwart his plans with expensive makeup and shapewear? Ha!
And for those of you who don’t believe the way I do… you must still see the foolishness in trying to control something by way of sabotage… Regardless of religious beliefs, the concept of right & wrong is universal to humanity. So, rather than tear down the competition, why not build up confidence in ourselves?
This is all easier said than done, especially in this ‘cat eat caddy’ world where botox and body-wraps abound.
So, for now, the best thing I can do – is be aware…
For my part, I want to be constantly self-analyzing my thoughts/feelings/motives when it comes to the women in my life. And I have some pretty AMAZING women surrounding me – women who deserve my love and encouragement, not my subconscious hope that they’ll fail in areas that will make me look better.
If we ALL do that… think of the money we’ll save on laser treatments and Keratin rinses?!? Sounds dreamy to me.