Let me begin with a question. As a woman, to what extent do you truly support your female friends? We all want to say we support them 150 percent, but is that really true? For some of you, maybe it is! And that's fantastic. But for a majority of women, that may not be the case.
Raise your hand if a friend has ever told you exciting news—successful news—and you've faked a smile and said congratulations while something in your chest sunk to your stomach. Raise your hand if a friend has ever gotten a better grade than you, and instead of being excited for them, you felt worse about yourself. Raise your hand if you've ever felt bad just looking at a friend because you feel she's more beautiful than you. You get the idea.
Which leads me to the one thing most of us could improve upon:
Supporting other women.
Growing up as females, we're constantly being told what we're not. There are forces all around us that point to our imperfections. As a society, that's what we're focused on. Rather than seeing the good in ourselves, it's easy to wallow in what we find wrong with ourselves. These tendencies only increase when someone tells you to your face that you should "look/be more like so-and-so." It's happened to me, and I'm sure it's happened to you. At a certain point, we can't help but compare ourselves to others. And that's a problem. Because not only does it drown our self-esteems—it turns us against each other.
And admittedly, it's tough to be truly supportive when we're constantly jealous of one another. Not to mention, we're so much harder on other women than we are on men. Society calls women fat, ugly, slutty, stupid. Rather than fight back by empowering one another, we use those same words to put each other down. It's seen in our everyday lives, in movies, television shows and books.
But perhaps most commonly, we see it in advertisements that represent the "perfect" woman—someone who is thin, smart and successful. We've all wanted to be that woman at one point or another. We've all looked in the mirror and wished that our waists and thighs weren't so wide, our skin weren't so blemished, our noses weren't so big. We're being subtly (or not so subtly) told to compare ourselves to that woman on the screen. It's not a bad strategy for companies, really. They're implying, "If you buy this product, you'll look like this beautiful, perfect woman!" And we bite their bait.
But, really, what is the definition of beautiful? What is perfect? They're not objective words. Beauty and perfection are entirely subjective. We may wish we were the woman on the screen, but in reality, that woman likely feels imperfect, too! If she saw you on the street, she might think you're perfect.
The truth is, we're all fighting our own battles. We're all trying to be accepted. That's all it is—a desire to feel accepted. One woman's success does not mean you won't be successful. We waste so much time comparing ourselves to others. Instead, all of that energy could be used to support each other—to be happy for each other. Because a day from now, a week from now, a year from now, you'll be the one with exciting news. And, rather than feel threatened, you'll want your friends to share your excitement.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather feel happy for someone else than unhappy about myself.