Despite the heavy “women supporting women” message in mainstream media and pop culture, young girls and women still seem to struggle with fully adapting this girl-power mentality. Without some serious inner thought and reflection, the road to rot is inevitable. And we are not speaking from a place of stats or buzz-worthy numbers but from personal feelings and experiences.
It sucks when someone is doing something you’ve fought so hard to obtain. It sucks, even more, when they’ve done it so…effortlessly.
“That girl is talented, beautiful, and her smile lights up the entire room…Why aren’t I like her?”
Instead of praising our sisters and looking at their victories as our own, mainstream media has for many decades pushed women against each other. They wanted competition, drama, and some barely passable Television. In other words, they wanted entertainment. And what’s more entertaining than watching two women ruin each other? Or themselves?
Fast forward to 2021, when big female names in the entertainment industry wanted to take matters into their own hands – we have since moved on from the abovementioned toxic narrative. We’ve swapped the Kim K vs. Paris Hilton headline for a much softer and healthier message for younger generations.
Social media is no help either because it’s very easy to fall into this comparison rabbit hole, given every other Instagram girlie is seemingly perfect.
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And as long as your goal is to be “more perfect” than your competition, you are failing at overcoming the struggles of seeking beauty and validation. You are quite literally shoving water into a bottomless well. Nothing will ever be enough because there is no such thing as perfection. No affirmations for women page will save you from such self-hatred.
The goal should be to eliminate perfection out of your mind, body, and soul. And away from your Instagram feeds for that matter too.
Before Anything Else…Why?
Before anything else, we always wondered why so many women felt that way. Threatened, insecure, and envious of either powerful or successful women around them. Where does all of this negativity come from?
A portion of it is due to society’s unrealistic standards of success or beauty, but that’s hardly 20% of it. The rest is completely internal. And in many cases, 100% of it is completely internal. Your one-sided “beef” with one or more women is due to issues you have with your own self, not her. It’s just her successes that provoke all your insecurities until they come bursting out of you.
If you really think about it, we must think very highly of these women we are envious of. Since they are, “everything we are not, but seek to be” – they must be doing something right…right? You’d think we would positively idolize these girls by using them for inspiration for our own improvement, but instead, all we feel is jealousy.
A confident woman isn’t perfect, not in the slightest. A truly confident woman doesn’t even feel the need to seek perfection, because she is okay with not being perfect.
True confidence only comes from within, when you fully accept yourself and seek possible change. This, however, gets very muddy when your “within” is full of self-hate and criticism. And we are more than sure you wouldn’t and haven’t treated anyone else as harshly as you did yourself. In other words, your relationship with amazing women around you will improve when your relationship with yourself does. There’s no other way around it.
In light of this, here we have three short written talks by women who have beaten their complicated relationships with themselves, and hence, with other women too.
“I was mesmerized, I was defeated and I felt horrible” by Natalie
There was this girl I met through mutual friends a while back. Little did I know she’d make me change my whole self-perception, lol. She was very warm-toned, friendly, and had the most gorgeous smile. It was genuinely impossible not to notice it.
I never cared much about my style, especially when I was going to work. It was sweets and hoodies for me, Monday through Friday, comfort over anything. It was comfortable until it wasn’t. When I followed her, let’s call her Jesse, on Instagram – I saw she was nothing like that. Her hair was always styled, makeup was done to perfection, outfits as if she just came out of an NYC-based fashion course.
I was mesmerized.
I began comparing our photos, eyes, makeup…I even began to compare our number of likes. She became my nemesis, and I constantly felt like I needed to one-up her. Truth be told, we’ve only met a couple of times, she wasn’t even that close to me. For all knew, she could have been the most terrible person on Earth, but in my head…she was perfect. She was everything I was failing to be, and more.
I was defeated.
Began changing my style, hair color, and nails. I would even wake up two hours earlier every day to make sure my makeup and outfit were perfect. I changed my outer appearance so much I began to drift away from who I thought I was until I was completely lost.
One day, just out of the blue, I bumped into Jesse while on my way to work. She looked pretty rough, or sad, even. I asked her what’s wrong and she just started crying then and there. She told me she was going through a hard time and just couldn’t find any reason for anything she did.
I felt horrible.
I felt horrible for all the times I was angry and jealous of her because all that time she was going through pain. I got her a coffee, gave her a tissue, and told her everything I myself needed to hear. It was therapeutic for both of us, especially for me.
I didn’t feel any kind of hate for her after that. Nor for any other beautifully “threatening” woman I’ve met later. I kept a few styles and makeup tricks I’ve learned along the way, but I no longer feel the need to beautify every inch of my existence.
Women celebrating women is the only beauty I started seeing. Whatever my flaws are, and even though beauty can still hurt sometimes, I was certain of one thing – I never wanted to feel as horrible as I have that day when I bumped into Jesse. No perfection was ever worth it.
“Prettier” by Billie
In my mother’s words, I was the biggest tomboy when I was a little girl. I wanted to be just like my dad. Played basketball, skated for a couple of years, and generally had a very “boyish” vibe about me.
It all changed when I hit puberty, all the way to my young adulthood, I’ve really grown to be a classy or even elegant-looking woman. Hair always curled, boots shiny, and bags Prada. I still have my “boyish” interests, and the occasional “John from accounting” outfit, because it’s who I truly am on the inside.
A big contrast from who my mom thought I’d grow up to be. I’ve been seeing this therapist for some time now, and she’s really helped me realize some unanswered questions I’ve had about myself. One of them being, why have I done a complete 180 with my outer appearance. My therapist did slight hypnosis, told me to follow my fear all the way to its core, and not close my eyes to whatever the answer may be. I finally saw the light, and all pieces fell into place.
When I was about 15, I wanted to cut my bangs and dye my hair a sand brown. I found a reference picture and everything, just needed a thumbs up from my mom. But when I’d shown her the picture, all she said was the following:
“Yeah, it would look pretty on you…but what you have now is… prettier”.
And I thought, “prettier”…what a funny word. I was completely oblivious to my thought and mind slowly becoming utterly obsessed with whatever would look, be and feel “prettier” on me, no matter the situation. As if my mother’s words echoed in my head for 10 years.
I found what shade of lipstick, hairstyle, and color palette works best for me, and I’ve stayed in that place for over 6 years.
I even compared myself to every woman I thought was “prettier” than me. I couldn’t stand choosing the less pretty option, for everything I ever did. It was so hard living in that little dollhouse, completely scared of natural, raw, and unfiltered beauty. No women empowerment quotes could save me from the doll dead.
Such a little word that’s created such big trauma for me. To beat it, I started telling my girlfriends that their every choice was the “prettier” choice. Reposted every “prettier” girl, and made sure to let them know they are amazing. I started doing the same for myself too. The word “prettier” has become our internal joke with zero meaning in physical appearance.
With only one life to live, I can safely say I am fully back to rocking men’s clothing, shorter hair, and less makeup. I’ve never felt more like myself, and I think that’s the “prettiest”.
“Law and Order” by Madison
Some time ago, when I was very young and stupid, I worked in a lawyer’s office as a rookie and naive little lawyer. Graduated with the highest grades, followed a textbook example of a “good girl” and always made my parents proud and happy.
The future was looking real bright, and in all honesty, I was a bit cocky in front of my small-town friends. While they were getting married and settling with successful men, I was working for my own money in the same fields as their sleazy lawyer husbands. It was the type of pride I am not really proud of today. It was coming from insecurity, more than from anywhere else.
Two years in, I was still the best female lawyer in my office, but my path was cut short when this new girl joined our team. And honestly, she was the best lawyer I have ever witnessed in court. Not even just the female category but overall. My face was red and my insides envious when I stormed out of that courthouse after seeing her in action for the first time. Later on, all I would ever hear in the office halls were people chatting about how good she was and how amazing her delivery is.
I cried myself to sleep for a while because I was so used to being the best. I was tired of constantly worrying someone would take my place. And when that finally happened, I was broken. I tried one-upping her but failed because my attempts were so forced, and they were coming from all the wrong places. For the first time in my life, I had no new and amazing news to share with my parents over Thanksgiving dinner. I took some time off work to think this through because I was so unhappy. And even if I managed to “defeat her”, a new girl would come and ruin it all over again. It was a never-ending fight, and I have gotten really tired.
After dinner, while I was washing the dishes, my mom came to me to talk. She said it was very visible I was miserable, and that I was too quiet. I didn’t have the dignity to tell her what was going on in my mind. She paused, smiled, and then said: “You know, you don’t always have to be the best for your father and me to be proud. We were and constantly are proud of you.” She saw right through me. And it was hard for me to digest her words because I always thought life was a competition. And I wanted to stop racing.
It was a gradual process, took a lot of time for me to step out of that perfection cage. I worked less and traveled more. I judged less and loved more. Met my husband in between. It was only when I stopped focusing on myself and my flaws that I started noticing the world around me.
And after a while, I completely stopped caring about my “position”, but just focused on being better than my past self. Now, 16 years later, I have my own firm and I make sure to empower every single woman that steps through my door. Because there’s nothing like a room full of amazing lawyers, who just so happen to be amazing women too.
We’re Stronger Together
There’s one painful similarity between Natalie, Billie, and Madison. They all lacked confidence kindness and belief in themselves, which is the only thing that made them so insecure. No matter the women around them. It takes a while for us to get to that place, but it’s so true. Showing vulnerability to your fellow sisters, and getting some back is the best way to relate to one another.
No matter how successful or beautiful you think a girl is, she’s most likely going through the same thing as you. After all, we know you are listening to women empowerment songs, but are you truly hearing them? It all comes from a long, hard, and tiring journey to self-love.
And we are in no way saying you shouldn’t “push yourself” or pursue your ambitions career dreams because you absolutely should! But never for the sake of being better than someone you don’t like and never from a place of insecurity. You should only do so when the wish comes deep within, and with zero outside influence.
On the other hand, beauty is subjective, and it fades. Friendship and sisterhood are passed down from mother to daughter, so in a lot of ways, it’s seemingly forever. And no temporary beauty is more worth it than that.