The X Factor and, more specifically, Danni and/or Cheryl, got me thinking.
Place two women side by side and the rivalry’s instinctive. Before the competition’s even started, the odds are against the female contestants, and the battle lines have been drawn between the female judges –
We are, by far, the less supportive more suspicious gender. We can’t help but think in terms of comparisons and competitions –
The physical is an obvious starting point. Most of the time, we get beyond that. Sometimes, we get stuck. It’s not surprising that women have far more body image issues than men when we’ve become so hyper-critical and super judgemental -
My plummet into anorexia was full of comparing – ‘I’m bigger than she is’ – and competing – ‘I’ll be thinner than she is’. It was characterised by feelings of inadequacy and inferiority and not quite stacking up.
Weight is one of the only variables in the appearance categories that you have any say over. You can, mistakenly, assume that changing your size will give you the edge: interpreting the situation as a competition is a common error.
The moment you slip into competitor mode, the landscape changes. For a start, a losing position is created; and then, developing a relationship is never easy when you’re hung up on the pecking order….
It’s no wonder that we’ve a reputation for bitchiness and sniping.
It seems difficult to view other women without introducing some sort of comparison. It seems hard not to consider the women we encounter as a kind of threat (at least at first) – and the women we see as a standard to live up to.
Working out where we are in relation to others is a pretty normal part of the human experience. We learn who we are and how we position ourselves in the world through comparison and contrast. This is fine when you’ve got some inner confidence to hold your balance; it’s not so fine when you succumb to the green-eyed monster or end up feeling like you’re never quite good enough.
At first, my anorexia was a seriously flawed attempt to climb the social ladder. Later, it was a complete opt out. In both instances, it was a response to the difficult dynamics of being a woman –
There’s probably some evolutionary story about female competition. It’s possibly linked to the fact that we’ve kind of occupied the position of male trophy and a lot’s been riding on the fact that someone out there finds us attractive – over everyone else. So, I’m not sure that it’s anything to worry about or anything to change –
It’s just that, in a photographed and publicised and pressurised society, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by the competition and it’s harder to feel comfortable with where we are
- as watching the struggle try and resolve itself on Saturday night TV is showing.
Tags: Body Image