Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Female Competitiveness

Recently I read an article written in the New York Times called "Why Women Compete With Each Other" by Emily V Gordon. She has a few different ideas about why women tend to pit themselves against each other. While she goes in depth into a couple different theories, it is the last one that she mentions in passing at the end of the article that really struck a chord with me. Not only is it easy to understand, but it is also something that I believe can be fixed with dedication, self love, and practice.

"We aren’t competing with other women, ultimately, but with ourselves — with how we think of ourselves. For many of us, we look at other women and see, instead, a version of ourselves that is better, prettier, smarter, something more. We don’t see the other woman at all." (Emily Gordon). 

While the other theories she presented seemed interesting, I believe this one is behind a lot of the competition and jealousy feelings we may feel towards other women. And the most ironic part of it all is that it has nothing to do with them. Not really, anyways. It is about our own imperfections, and seeing someone who is better at something can remind us of those imperfections. However, these feeling tend to manifest themselves as jealousy towards another women, which makes it tricky to pinpoint the actual cause.


Another article that relates to this topic is "The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself -- And All The Women Around You" by Elizabeth Gilbert. For women these days, this comparison trap comes in a lot of different forms. It could be career or accomplishment based, a standard of beauty we wish to own, a solid relationship, being socially outgoing, the list goes on and on. I've been a victim of many of them too- wondering if I'm accomplished enough, smart enough, strong enough to continue forging a healthy and happy life. We are bombarded with these standards from multiple sources and have to struggle with them every day. And the tough part is that women can be unconsciously perpetuating this. Women like to make it look easy. That's one of those standards people hold themselves to- being extremely modest when it's not necessary. Women these days are forging a new frontier- working full time jobs, being mothers, continuing their education, juggling their social lives all while making it look easy. But why hide the struggle and work it took to get to where you are now?

Instead of hiding behind the "modesty" shield, I feel like women should begin speaking up about all the hard work it takes to accomplish a myriad of goals. This generation is really pioneering what it looks like to be a modern women. It's important to begin to set examples for the current generation of young girls who want to do it all. While it's not easy, it is possible to be successful at your job, healthy, a good invested parent, a strong friend, and good partner. I don't want women my age to shy away from wanting it all because they think its impossible.

Because in the end, what does that comparison trap and modesty shield really do for you but cause stress for yourself and others? There are plenty of things that I tend to spend a lot of time worrying about that I will never be able to change. I will never be able to tan easily, or have long legs, or be as skinny as a model. If only women could channel similar thoughts like this into constructive things. We can strive to be kinder, more generous and helpful. We can take those negative thoughts and use them to propel us to a better version of ourselves, instead of wasting time worrying about those extra 5 pounds.


It's about accepting yourself for who you are, and loving yourself fully (including your flaws!). If you do indeed fully accept yourself, you empower yourself with the confidence to strive towards being a well rounded world citizen. Instead of wasting time on doubting yourself or stressing out about something you can't change, take that energy and put it into something positive. Share your story with others and don't hide behind the modesty shield. We are all pioneering this new age of being a modern women and we can grow and lean on each other as we make the transition into this new social space.

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