Imagine this for a moment: You're texting your best friend and she's upset. Her ex-boyfriend has officially moved on to someone else, and even though she's over it and he was a jerk anyway, she can't help but feel a little bothered.
There are screenshots of the new girl, and you know what you're supposed to say to make your best friend feel better.
"You're prettier than her anyway. He's an idiot, and you're way too good for him."
We've all been there or in a similar situation.
Maybe your friend is feeling insecure because her crush seems to maybe like someone else, and it's your job to comfort her. And what is our default when we're in those situations?
We build up our friends by tearing down the other women.
Maybe the other woman is truly awful, but, more often than not, she hasn't truly done anything except exist. She's just living her life, and because a particular guy is interested in her, it's her fault?
But we don't think of it like that. All we know is that our friend needs to be reminded of her value, and we've all been conditioned to believe that our value is dependent on our looks.
In our society, an extraordinarily high importance is placed on women being beautiful. Female celebrities, the ones beloved by all, tend to look similar; statistically, average-sized women are the outliers in Hollywood, which conveys to the rest of us that their bodies aren't the right ones we should aspire to.
Photographs are touched up to eradicate any flaws, the girl who's not conventionally attractive never gets the guy, and it seems as though every ad, no matter what it is they're actually selling, has to sexualize and objectify women.
Our culture has taught us that, as women, the most important thing we can be is beautiful.
This notion is rooted in misogyny and evil men's desires to subjugate women and force them to fit into a specific mold. And complimenting each other by means of comparison with other women plays right into the misogyny.
Women pitted against each other aren't meant to survive, much less grow and thrive. Human beings just aren't made for that; we're supposed to live in harmony, supporting and cheering on one another.
One can't deny that women have been oppressed. Whatever culture, Eastern or Western, evil finds a way to subdue women. If we want to fight against and turn the tide, bringing about true equality, us women must support one another. It's non-negotiable.
And that means supporting the woman threatening your friend's love life and sense of self-worth.
It doesn't mean choosing this other woman over your friend; it means erasing the idea that there even has to besides.
Women don't need to compete with each other for men. They ain't worth it. The right one will be, and you won't need to compete for his attention.
Not to mention, you never need a man's attention to be worth anything anyway. You are already worth so much.
And that's what we need to remind our friends of.
Instead of assuring your friend that she's prettier than this other woman, remind her of all of her good qualities without comparing them to anyone else.
The lame attempt at supporting the ladies in your life with a "you're prettier than her" can be replaced with something more genuine and heartfelt.
"I'm so sorry. This really sucks... She's pretty, but you are, too. You're kind and brilliant and compassionate and hard-working and successful. If he can't appreciate that, then he's not worth it, and you deserve better."
The focus doesn't have to be on the other woman at all!
Harp on all the incredible qualities your friend has without assuring her that this other woman couldn't even hope to be on her level. Keep the focus on your friend, how great she is (which, contrary to what we've been conditioned to believe, goes way beyond her looks), and what she deserves.
Live out "ladies supporting ladies" by supporting all ladies, all the time.