Jealousy. Body envy. Girl hate. The green-eyed monster.
Call it what you will, but one thing’s for sure: it’s a sure-fire way to make you feel inferior, unhappy and insecure. And, unfortunately in female culture, jealousy and insecurity not only runs rampant — it’s socially acceptable. And it’s bad for us on an individual and a collective scale.
If you’ve ever:
- Found yourself scrolling through Instagram and paused longer than usual to examine the figure in someone’s selfie while thinking, “Man, I wish I had her body. What a bitch!”; or
- Started hating the new girl at work even though she’s perfectly lovely, intelligent, competent and makes your job easier — purely because she’s got a bangin’ bod; or
- Caught yourself internally shaming and judging other women (in magazines, on TV and even your life) by making assumptions about their diets, lifestyles and sex lives based on their appearance; or
- Felt yourself giving other women the up-and-down, head-to-toe stare of disapproval as you walk past them on the street;
… those are all prime examples of body insecurity in action.
So why does it happen?
When we feel insecure about ourselves in any capacity, if we’re not ready to fully confront those feelings and aren’t sure how to deal with them (or, worse, feel completely paralyzed by them), we often project that out into the world and all over other people instead.
Is it fair?
Are our snap judgements of other women usually accurate?
Does it benefit us in any way?
Not at all.
But do we all find ourselves doing it from time to time?
It’s part of human nature. You’ve probably heard the adage that the things we hate in others are usually elements within ourselves that we hate on some level. This theory definitely seems true when we find ourselves jealous, hateful or envious of someone who possesses attributes we wish we had.
It’s a normal reaction if you’re struggling with self-esteem and body image.
Just because it’s a common reaction doesn’t mean that we should give ourselves a free pass to go around glaring at other women, needlessly critiquing selfies or propagating girl hate. After all, we know that we’re all worth much more than our bodies. We can all play a role in shifting the culture by making sure to keep ourselves in check.
Jealousy feeds negative thinking, and when we insult other women, we’re indirectly insulting ourselves.
Try these four ways to stop comparing your body to other women:
1. Meet yourself.
Think about all the harsh criticisms you give others and how these affect you. Chances are, those criticisms are stopping you from focusing on what’s going right in your life. Let’s shift that inner dialogue from negativity to gratitude. Grab a pen of paper and make a list of all the things that you LOVE about your body. No matter how insignificant you think those positive thoughts are, write them down.
Maybe you’ve always loved your bellybutton. Or maybe you love the way your strong legs give you the strength to run around with your kids. Or maybe you’ve always loved the femininity of your hands.
Write it all down, and read those list of positive attributes as if you were reading them about a stranger. Meet yourself – the version of yourself that you feel positive about.
2. Pause all verbal comments.
When you’re in a group situation or chatting with friends, it’s important not to participate in any negative and judgemental dialogue. You know what I mean: gossiping, bitchy discussions of other women, obsessing over celebrities. It all suggests that it’s OK to judge other women for their appearance and judge ourselves similarly.
Instead, be the bigger person and make a stand. If a friend makes a judgmental comment, stick up for the person in question with a neutral statement. Try something like, “As long as she’s happy, that’s what matters.”
Then, redirect the conversation to something else. As women, we have so much to offer the world and we owe it to ALL OF US not to use our time to dissect each other’s appearances.
3. Diversify where you find beauty and inspiration.
As you go about your day, stop and examine the sources that fuel your negativity and comparisons: women in magazines, on social media or even friends and family. Note the way your internal dialogue starts jumping from judgment to judgment, and take note of how automatically those nasty thoughts kick in.
Those negative thoughts have likely become habit. It’s time to forge a new habit and counteract that negativity with positivity. Make yourself notice something positive about everyone that you usually judge. Perhaps they seem super confident in themselves, or you might admire their sense of fashion. Whenever you feel those negative appearance-based thoughts popping up, counteract them with something positive. It might feel awkward at first, but with time and repetition, it will become second nature.
4. Seek outside help.
Stopping the negative talk about other women and reframing your internal dialogue can be incredibly helpful. But if you find yourself struggling with these activities or if you feel that you have some deeply rooted body image issues, consider talking to a therapist. Contrary to the pop culture depiction, therapy isn’t all about “Lay down on the red couch while I psychoanalyze you and tell you everything that you’re doing wrong.” It’s a safe space that allows you to verbalize your feelings in a judgement-free zone, and where you can learn strategies to help you live a happier life.
Some final reminders:
- One woman’s beauty, brilliance or sheer awesomeness doesn’t take anything away from your own.
- Complimenting another woman (whether it’s in your head as you walk by, or out loud to them!) helps you feel awesome about yourself, too.
- Hating other women won’t make you feel better about yourself.
- You deserve to be able to acknowledge and appreciate other women, as well as yourself!