We, as women, are each other’s biggest critics. We are constantly competing with other women and finding ways to tear them down. We say the woman eating the salad knows she needs to eat a cheeseburger and the woman eating the cheeseburger knows she needs to eat a salad. The stay at home mom is lazy and doesn’t want to work and the working mother doesn’t love her children enough to stay at home. The woman that likes to party has a problem and the woman that doesn’t drink isn’t any fun. The woman saving herself for marriage is a prude, but the woman that has had sex is a slut. If you’re beautiful, you’re trying too hard, but god forbid you’ve gained weight, because then we all know you’ve just let yourself go. When do we stop? I know there are exceptions to every rule and not every woman does this, but we don’t even realize we do it. I am certainly not the exception. I am guilty as well.
It’s everywhere. From watching women in cat-fights on the Bachelor, The Bad Girl’s Club, and any Housewives of Whatever City all the way to songs like, “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls, “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” by Me’shell Ndegeocello and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take my Man)” by Loretta Lynn. It’s across the board, it’s not race specific or location specific.
I watched a woman walk into the gym this morning in running shorts. They were the kind of running shorts I always try on and suddenly find everything wrong with my body in. My fat thighs, my cellulite, way too short (me and the shorts), and what if I bust a seam sitting down? Ask yourself what you think the woman entering the gym looked like. Tall? Thin? Runner? That’s my first thought. (Don’t try to play devil’s advocate either, I googled “Female Running Shorts” just to see what the images are. It’s a consensus.) Well, like me, the woman entering the gym didn’t look like any of those google images. She had full, shapely thighs. She had cellulite. She was average height. She walked, not ran, on the treadmill. I watched another tall, thin, toned, aesthetically beautiful woman give her the nastiest look when she saw her. It was that, “Why are you wearing that?” look. It was that, “Those are too short for you” look. It was that, “Oh honey, someone should have stopped you” look. It was that critical, nasty, judgmental look that so many of us struggling with body image issues have seen – whether from someone else or when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror.
Most woman that don’t have body image issues don’t notice other’s judgmental looks. Why? Because they don’t care. They easily brush off rude comments because those people don’t matter. It’s the incessant, constant ugliness that begins to wear those women down. The women struggling with body image issues typically don’t go out on a limb and buy something that they even think someone might judge them in because it only takes one time to shut that thought down. The women trying to make a change and build their confidence. We tear them down, too. And we don’t even realize it. This woman walking into the gym, she didn’t give two fucks about the woman with the disgusted looked on her face. She looked at her and smiled. Like a boss. But how many times can you do that before it starts to wear you down? And why should you have to?
I then watched the same tall, thin, toned judgmental woman awkwardly try and cover herself up in the locker room. I watched her struggle to pull her panties up with one hand as she tried to keep her towel wrapped around her. I watched her put her bra on over her towel and then take her towel off. I watched her scrutinize herself in the mirror, sucking her stomach in and out, pushing on different parts of her body. What I was suddenly looking at was a very insecure woman that had her own body image issues.
When I try clothes on I will ask whomever I’m with or the attendant if I’m alone, “Would you judge me if you saw me wearing this on the street?” I don’t even consider how confident I feel, if I like the way I look in it, do I feel confident? My first concern is will other women judge me. Guess what guys, it doesn’t fucking matter. I’m now realizing this.
People who like themselves like other people. People who feel good about themselves want to make others feel good. We, as women, have to do better. We, as women, need to stop being so critical and ugly toward other women. We need to respect each other and help build each other up. It is our job, as women, to do this.
Over the last month or so I’ve noticed a change in myself. I’ve noticed myself not judging people as much. I’ve noticed myself cheering other people on and wanting to help other women, but I’ve also noticed that I like myself more. Perhaps the first step is ourselves.