The husband and I had a date night last night, and like the majority of our date nights, we found ourselves wandering the aisles of Target. (We’re a pretty crazy couple.) As we meander along, a couple of women meet us at an aisle and one woman stops, completely looks me up and down and gives a nice little leer. She turns the corner and as I pass, she stops to turn around and assess my outfit again and then whispers to her friend.
Not too uncommon a scene is it, ladies? However, my husband noticed it and found it odd. “Did you see that? What was her problem?” I explained to him that this is pretty standard. Part of being a girl means dealing with mean girls. Girls who mock your outfit with their eyes and whisper comments to their friends. Girls who give backhanded compliments or purposefully compliment everyone BUT you. All ways to try to make you feel smaller.
Who knows what this lady had an issue with. Perhaps she thought I was overdressed for Target (granted, I am usually overdressed compared to most people), and felt awkward in her own yoga pants and t-shirt.
Maybe she hated my clothes, my shoes, or my hair. Maybe she got me confused with some girl she despised back in high school. Who knows? And while I wish I could say it didn’t bother me, it did. It always does.
As we continued to discuss girl on girl meanness, Brent asked me an interesting question: what bothers me more, when men make rude or inappropriate comments based on how I or other women look, or when women act like this toward one another? And while in my fantasy world I imagine a life without either, I’ve got to say, the rude men are fewer and far between in my experience. Yeah there are plenty of creeps in the world who want to “compliment” you in the checkout line at Walmart (has a guy ever had success doing this?), or yell at you from the car window as they drive past (again, the point?), but I know a lot, a TON actually, of really great men in the world. Men who respect women, who value them as humans and not objects and who, though they can appreciate the beauty of women, don’t feel the need to comment to strangers on their appearance in any manner.
Unfortunately, mean girls run rampant. In fact, you probably know at least a few. The girl who has a snide comment about everyone, the one just waiting to knock someone down a peg or two just to feel better about themselves, and the one who sits around with her friends discussing how she can’t believe how a certain co-worker has really “let themself go”. The one who rolls her eyes to her friends as you turn away. You know her. And if her words and actions aren’t hurting you directly, you may just be terrified to disagree with her in fear she might turn on you next. And it’s easy to get caught up in the conversation. Before you know it, you’re saying things you might not normally say. And maybe that person will never hear you or know what you said, but what if they did? How would that make you feel? How would I feel if every negative thing I’ve said out loud was heard by those people? Definitely not very proud.
From the girl in sixth grade who let me know how sad she felt for me (in front of a big group of girls at a sleepover) because I was so flat-chested and probably didn’t need a bra, to the girls who comment on my posts that they really don’t like any of the outfits I put together (Cool, don’t read my site!), life is full of these precious “gems”.
Also unfortunate, the fact that we can’t really stop her. Sure, we can stop the conversation she tries to have with us where she’s full of gossip and little bits of snark. But at the end of the day all we can really do is make sure we AREN’T her. That means no snickering at the girl in the too tight sweater or the shoes you think are hideous. No negative commenting on someone’s FB photos, and that includes celebrities. Seriously, how is it ever OK to say some of the things I’ve read online about anybody?? Just because someone has a public presence, whether they’re a local news anchor or a multi-billion dollar musician, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. If you wouldn’t say something directly to someone’s face, don’t write it down just to hide under the anonymity of the Internet. (And if you would say it to someone’s face, well, you’ve got a special set of issues I just don’t have time for right now.)
We’ve all got different interests, talents, tastes, etc. and that’s what makes our world so interesting. It’s fine to have differences in opinion when it comes to style- it’s a very personal thing. I may absolutely hate the dress you have on, but do I have any place AT ALL to let you know that? Nope. And if you hate my outfit? That’s totally fine!
We live in a world so full of opinions. Opinions on a healthy diet, parenting, politics, not to mention the talk shows and gossip magazines quick to point out not only who wore it best, but who looked awful and who has cellulite. Opinions are fine, but they’re just that, opinions. And if you haven’t been asked for yours, perhaps keep it to yourself!
How about instead of a world of female competition and comparison we just support each other and agree to disagree? What kind of world would that be? Let’s change the conversation, shall we?!
And to the girl from the sixth grade sleepover, we both know I more than made up for it a couple of years later. So there. :)