End Girl Hate!

A very wise Tina Fey once said "you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores; it just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores." When I first saw Mean Girls at age 11, I thought it was just another funny quote I would later add to my repertoire, but as I found myself venturing into the often turbulent teenage girl world, I revisited this striking idea and realized damn, we need to stop hating on each other.

Walk the halls of your local high school and you won't be hard-pressed to find at least one young girl blasting another with toxic conversation. Or, even easier to find, a girl wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt scoffing at the cheerleaders lined up along the adjacent lockers because they're "so catty" and "airheaded". Both of these occurrences I just described are prime examples of girl hate, and both are just as damaging to our gender as a whole.

Where does girl hate come from, you may ask? My theory is it stems from one core problem: competition. As Darwin once taught us, species' function around survival of the fittest, and this phenomenon is no different when it comes to the special breed of human we've decided to call "the woman". From birth, we're given an ideal standard we're supposed to live up to which requires being not only physically attractive, but demure, yet intelligent, but classy, but not too emotional, but a little sensitive. If you're a girl, think back on the first toys you played with as a child; I guarantee Barbie will make an appearance. She's gorgeous, with boobs past her sculpted chin and a waist so small your five-year-old thumb barely measures up. Then you come to find she's a hard-worker (think President Barbie and Airline Pilot Barbie), smart as a whip (University Barbie, CEO Barbie, and Teacher Barbie), and a devoted wife and mother to Ken and whatever the baby's name is. So that's the ideal archetype you've memorized before you can even spell your own name, and because you're five you think you'll have all that and more when you're a grown-up. Oops, flash forward to ninth grade and surprise! Your boobs are nowhere near as perky as Barbie's, plus you're struggling to pass chemistry, something Pharmacist Barbie never had to deal with. Now that you're older and more aware, you're noticing the actresses on TV or the models you see online don't have these stretch marks you've recently discovered, not to mention they're dating your favorite boy-band member. And as a result of feeling inadequate, it seems most healthy to take these feelings out on girls you know in real life, because at least they're seemingly your equals.

Honestly it's no surprise we want to lash out at each other, we're bred for competition and don't want anyone around us claiming top prize. On an average day, women receive almost countless messages from all angles shouting "you're not good enough!" resulting in us feeling insecure and wanting to have what the girl next door possesses. Many women throw this insecurity into mean messages or adversely a desire to shout from the rooftops how they're "not like other girls". But here's a secret: being "like other girls" isn't a bad thing: if women started to support each other, we might even be taken seriously by men.

Because here's the other piece of the puzzle: all of this girl-on-girl hate sends a lot of men the message that they can join in on the picking apart. When guys see us calling each other "catty" or "slutty", many of them internalize these messages and feel like it's okay for them to say, too. The truth is, it's not okay for anyone to say, no matter how you identify. We're looked at as dramatic or ridiculous because we treat our fellow women in hurtful and degrading ways which comes from our feelings of competition with one another. Well guess what? These aren't the Women's Gymnastics portion of the Olympic Trials; we're not really duking it out for any sort of fancy recognition.

So how do we stop girl hate? I have two pieces of advice: acknowledge your jealousy and acknowledge the differences in everyone. That first tip comes more into play if when you feel a sense of competition that is purely based on "x has this/x does this better than I do/x possesses this quality" type of thinking; let these observations make you better, not bitter. For example, if you see a girl wearing a shirt that shows off her toned stomach, instead of rudely hissing about how "slutty" she looks, privately admit to yourself that you're envious of her well-defined body and make a plan to do some crunches every day. In this scenario, no one gets hurt, no negativity is spread, and you've made steps to improve your own life.* The second tip I listed above comes more into play with those girls that are so adamant about not being the "average" girl. If you ever find yourself feeling this way toward other, more classically feminine women, ask yourself: "Why should I be threatened by her? What is she doing that is actually deteriorating from who I am as a person?" I'd be willing to bet you'll find it difficult to find a legitimate answer. Next, remind yourself how individual differences are what make people--both men and women--each unique and special in a way that should be celebrated. Plus you never know, that cheerleader you're condemning? Maybe she's rushing home to play Call of Duty or watch the latest episode of Sherlock. People are often more complex than you think, and if you allow yourself to assess them in a more dynamic way, they may just surprise you.

So that's my analysis on girl hate. I hope you found this the slightest bit entertaining or enlightening, and while I don't apologize for my feminist rant, I promise I won't make a habit of posting these. Next time I'll publish something a little more light-hearted, friends.

Have a good night and be nice to one another; especially you, ladies.

Lauren

*Of course, this is just a hypothetical situation involving a made-up person that feels envious of another made-up person's body; if you don't feel a desire to have a toned stomach, for example, that is 100% normal. I don't want anyone to be offended here or assume I meant to suggest one body type is superior to others.

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