“One of my High School teachers used to make fun of me because I wore a lot of dresses and skirts. She’d say they were inappropriate, that I was vain, and that I should focus more on my studies (I always did quite well in school, but I guess that was never really her point).
One day, during a break between classes, she got an envelope from her bag and took a picture out: it was a photo of her as a beautiful 19-year-old, wearing a bikini. Then she, a middle-aged mother and wife, turned to the class and asked,”So, who looks better now? Me or Anna?”
One way or another, we’re taught to criticize and humiliate girls from a very young age.
We see everyone else doing it and learn that somehow, establishing that someone else has failed at #fashion, #beauty, or basic #womanhood is supposed to make us feel better about ourselves.
While men do judge other men, yes, and they can be just as harsh, yes - do they do it as often?
Think of the last time a friend asked you whether some girl on her boyfriend’s Facebook is pretty or not.
Or the last time she made a passing comment while watching TV, about how the actress “isn’t even that hot”. I don’t know about you, but the last time I heard that was last night. And the time before that, yesterday morning.
Think of the amount of magazines that pile up in shops everywhere in the world, full of articles like “Best and worst dressed celebs of the week”, “Fashion faux-pas of the rich and famous”, and “Who wore it better” -my old teacher’s favorite, for sure.
Think of how every time a famous woman is photographed without makeup, maybe wearing baggy clothes, or looking a little tired, she’s publicly ostracised and burned at the stake. Suddenly, social commentators pop up everywhere, and think pieces are written about how Angelina must be depressed, Jennifer must get a new wardrobe, and Lena must be so embarrassed of her thighs.
Think of how toxic it is for young girls everywhere who grow up seeing those articles everywhere, listening to that poisonous track on repeat until it’s ingrained in their brains and they, too, start saying things like, “Have you seen what she’s wearing?”, or “She needs to lose weight before she can wear those shorts in public”.
What we need to learn is that another girl’s beauty doesn’t and will never take anything away from ours, and putting her down will do absolutely nothing for us – nor our karma.
We need to change the tune, the record, the whole damn album.
Something I’ve started doing a few years ago is compliment women every chance I get, on anything I can – if their hair looks great, I’ll tell them. If their outfit is on point, I’ll make sure that they know. If I know somebody’s been trying to lose weight, I’ll compliment them as soon as they show the slightest change. I’ve been called indulgent, naive, a softy and a liar.
But do you know how much better my life got since I started thinking of other women as companions, instead of competition?
It’s definitely a long road to go, and since I’m not editor in chief of the Daily Mail or Perez Hilton, I don’t have much power to change things on a global scale – yet. But as consumers, we can stop buying the damn things.
We can stop hate-following pretty girls on Instagram with the sole purpose of judging their every move, and stop caring about whether some random on Facebook is ugly or not. It’s a waste of time.
Time we’re much better off spending reading about people who actually made a positive impact on the world, watching funny movies, playing with a puppy or thinking about what you’ll have for lunch. Anything at all is better than worrying about what some other girl is wearing, I promise.
I’ve long forgiven my high school teacher, because I truly believe she is not a mean woman but rather just an unfortunate victim caught in a much more complex tornado.
What I haven’t forgiven, and won’t forgive anytime soon, is society pitting women against other women, time after time. How boring. How unnecessary. How oh-so-last-year.
So either unfollow that girl on Instagram, or start leaving comments telling her she looks great. Then tell yourself the same thing.”