I am, as always, speaking for myself.
Women are trained to compare themselves to every other female human being on their radar. And let’s not go on and on about Social Media because it’s a matter of upbringing. (If my Education minor is showing, wave hello). Unhappy mothers project their body image and their values onto their daughters as well as parents/guardians/family in general, when talking about their own and other peoples’ bodies.
If “Look, she’s so fat” was a common thing for someone to say in your household, maybe you are more prone to judge other women as a teenager and grown-up. If your mom always plastered her face with make-up, saying she was ugly without it and always tugging on her outfit or inspecting various parts of her body, it will, in a way, transfer to you.
Growing up, I was always asked if I had an eating disorder. First, I was petite, in my teenage years I grew to a 5’9 – I was always skinny, that’s my body type – but healthy, most of the times. When I developed a harmful relationship with food for some time in the past years, noone would really notice.
My mom never really complained about her body, though she did diet. She would explain why she would be hungry and a bit grumpy, losing 10 kilograms and putting them back on, diet, repeat. But nonetheless, I always considered her healthy because she didn’t do crazy crash diets. Also, no food item was ever “special” or “forbidden” in our household. We bought sweet treats and baked cakes when we felt like it, pizza night was a thing, alongside vegetables and fruit from our garden.
We learnt not to point at people who looked differently to what we were used to, even as small children, when we got curious about different bodies. My parents always told us when they thought we looked pretty and never not allowed us to go out in an outfit we chose (“But bring a jacket, honey!”)
You could think that I would be one of the most body-confident people ever. As I was talking about negative influences in your upbringing, this must be the result. How can she be insecure, if she never was criticized early on or shamed for her body?
Because we see other people. We also see other peoples’ envy of other people. And then we start to think about it. “She has a bigger cup size then me, that’s why all the boys look at her.” “She has better clothes, that’s why she’s popular”. “She has nicer hair, brighter eyes or a softer face shape. Her nose is lovely and her thighs are slimmer. That’s why she is more lovable and successful”.
I am not saying that “good looks”, i.e. a standartised belief in beauty, hurts anyone’s career or love life. But it doesn’t work the other way round: Just because I am bigger/more round-faced etc., I can’t be loved or have success.
I recently was jealous of a co-worker, who is more delicate and more feminine than me. These were exactly my thoughts. She always puts on nice make-up, a lot of jewellery, etc. She doesn’t rock the boat that much, she likes to do her work. I thought, she was very popular and liked among our guys. And that stung.
But why would I negate my own sense of femininity and beauty because of her? She has her life and her looks and her way of getting ready in the morning.
And that’s when I thought about a quite universal lesson: You will never be anybody else but YOU.
I don’t like make-up that much. I don’t have a petite nose. I am taller and less curvy. That’s how I was built, it’s genetics and a good portion of personal preference. Why would I put on outfits that I don’t find comfortable or a lot of make-up. All this show, for what? Also, I cannot shut my mouth when I ee something unjust or plain stupid. I will call it out. Simple as that.
NOBODY will truly like you better if you play pretend. Look at yourself in the mirror. This is a very deep and honest feeling. This is the raw material, this is what you have to deal with. No layer of foundation or Gucci bag will make you another person. And you don’t have to be. You already are the most amazing person you can ever be: Yourself.
So stand up straight and tell yourself that you cannot change your looks. If you want to dye your hair, do so. If make-up excites you, put it on. But remember, that under every layer, what remains, is the pure you. So rather learn to love the original than spend your time creating a puppet. It doesn’t do any good, to noone.
So, that’s how I am stopping to be jealous. It’s definitely a process, but a very important one.