Friday, September 28, 2007

Jealousy and the negativity that surrounds us

Why is it that women (maybe men too...) are raised to look at the world negatively? Why are we taught to be jealous and competitive of other women? Not consciously, of course! It's not like we get into home ec and we're brainwashed into seeing our sisters as the enemy, but it seems we're gradually taught to compare ourselves to other women in so many ways. We use other women as the scale to judge ourselves - all the better if we're standing on them at the time.

We judge based on a purse, a haircut or the colour of lipstick. Even the cars we drive. I've been guilty of it myself and consciously changing such ingrained behaviour is difficult at best. Standing at the bus stop, I automatically assume the girl with the pink purse worships Paris Hilton (could it be she just likes pink?). Sure, it could be true once in awhile, but even if it is, does that mean she should be automatically dismissed?

Why is it that people making choices I wouldn't are automatically bad or less than me? And I know it isn't just me. I've overheard women on the train, in coffee shops, at curling and in the gym. In order to feel good about ourselves, we must push down those around us.

What causes this? My theory this morning is "modesty." Many women are raised to not brag. To think well of yourself means that you're egotistical - a horrible affliction for a woman. Sure, taken to an extreme, ego and confidence is a bad thing. Take a look at hollywood. Then again, hollywood is this bizarre world filtered to us through the media and the spin they'd like to put on things at the time.

In order to be proper, modest girls; we should not crow about what is good about us. It's even worse for those who are unpopular. They start to feel unworthy. I know I did. Why bother taking the time to do my hair in the morning, wear make-up or find fashionable clothes? In the end, I'm still the same person and it won't change how people see me. At least not in my home town.

So we find ways to make ourselves feel better. Rather than saying good things about ourselves and appearing vain, we take other women down. If we point out their shortcomings (OMG! A pink purse!!! Or, heaven forbid, white after labour day!!!) we clearly stand out as superior without actually saying anything about ourselves. Out loud. We leave it for others to infer.

Over time, this creates a downward spiral. In our heads we find something wrong with every woman. She's too thin - eating disorder. God, how much time does she spend getting ready in the morning???? Why on earth would anyone pierce THAT??

In reality, what business is it of ours? I know I've had women look me up and down when they get on the elevator in the morning. Sheesh people. The runners get me through my walks to and from the train. I have appropriate shoes at work. But does it matter? Should I receive raised eyebrows because I wear runners at 8am? Is it really worthy of that?

The hardest thing is recognizing that we're doing this and consciously changing the behaviour. I've started stopping myself mid-negativity (dear god, where did all of our negativity come from???) and changing the thought. "Why? What does that get me?" If I'm jealous that the woman looks better, then I take that bit of information and look at making changes to myself to improve. Do I want her purse? Her shoes? A better gym schedule? Maybe a different haircut? Maybe just the confidence to walk out the door not worried that the world is judging me and finding every flaw.


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