Ever since I was young, I have noticed that no matter how harsh men are on women, we are our own worst enemies. I have heard so many whispered insults, backhanded compliments and rumours, all from the mouths of women and aimed at their fellow sisters. The question is... why? Why do some women feel such a need to put down other women? Is it jealousy, or insecurity, or just what we have been taught to do our whole lives?
Honestly, I believe it's a mixture, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. We are taught from a young age that as women, we are all in a competition with one another and this competition is based mainly on how we look and act. Whether it’s in the earliest of school days, (I remember the unspoken competition of who could look better in school uniform, or get away with the most make up) or growing up and realising that it follows you into adulthood when you see the girls in the office raising their eyebrows at your Tesco pencil skirt. There is always a feeling within us that no matter how hard we try there will always be either someone better, or someone to tell you that you aren’t good enough.
I’m guilty of it myself. In my teens I used to sit on park benches, copying my friends by dishing out insults under my breath at the women walking past. Never men, it just never occurred to us. We weren’t especially mean hearted, or naughty children and I would have never have done it to anyone’s face, but there was a self-satisfied feeling you would get when you saw someone fatter, or less stylish than you. If one of my school friends or (as I grew up) colleagues, posted a revealing or “sexy” picture on Facebook, my first reaction would be to call them arrogant, conceited, in-love with themselves. I was intensely jealous, though I didn’t realise at the time, most of the girls who had managed to escape the competition, who had decided that they were going to hold themselves to their own standards.
Eventually I started educating myself, and realised that we are taught to put down other women. Tabloids and glossy magazines do it daily, telling us to lose weight, eat less and how best to grab the attention of men. It’s often the women who reject the “girls need to be thin pretty and quiet” trope that receive the hardest time from the media, for even daring to break the status quo. Look at Tina Fey, Amber Rose, Jenny Beavan (who despite winning an Oscar became better known for being called a “bag lady” by her supposed friend, Steven Fry)
Take Kim Kardashian, this is the ultimate example of what I'm talking about. Kim receives more hate from women than most celebrities, and she handles it with class. Now, I'm sure some of you may be thinking "Kim makes women look bad" or "she's just plastic, and slutty" but this is exactly what I'm referring too. Kim Kardashian was a VICTIM, yes, a victim of revenge porn. Her ex leaked their sex tape after they broke up, and Kim was devastated. She spent a long time and a lot of money making sure that it was taken off the web. She then decided to make sure that nobody would remember her as the "sex tape slut" and became a business woman, with multiple hair, make up, and clothing lines. A working mother, and devoted wife, and believe it or not, a feminist.
She constantly hits back at body shamers, with her break the Internet photo shoot and unashamed nude pictures on all social media platforms. She sends the message "I don't care what you think. This makes me happy and I'm proud of my body." If all women were as self confident as Kim, we wouldn't be having this conversation to begin with. I used to hate the Kardashians too, just like I was taught to by society and the media. But I realised I was jealous of her beauty, her wealth, and her confidence.
The only way we can even begin to end the competition, the lifelong pageant we are all a part of, is to make the conscious decision every day to be better. When you meet a new woman, make your first thought “what a great smile” or “what a unique style,” not, “wow her teeth are crooked” or “she needs to get her eyebrows done” (again, I’m guilty of this too). We have to unlearn the internalised misogyny that has told us we need to put other girls down to make ourselves look better. Stop slagging off Kim Kardashian, and start realising that as women, we are all in this together. All of us are beautiful and unique. Whether you’ve got legs like Giselle, or a belly like Buddha, eyebrows on fleek, or thin pencilled on lines, it’s irrelevant. Bring each other up, and love one another.
There's no shame in admitting you were wrong once, but there is pride in realising you've grown.