How many times have you looked at a girl who had meticulously applied her makeup and primped her hair to Victoria’s Secret levels and thought, “She probably has to put in all that work because she’s not naturally beautiful.” How many times have you seen a girl in teeny tiny daisy dukes and a crop top and said, “Yeah but her face isn’t that pretty.” How many times have you cheered up a friend who was cheated on by criticizing how the “other woman” looked?
We live in a society that has systematically raised women to compete with each other. We’re not talking about the good kind of competition either. Competing in athletic events or in an academic or professional environment is good. It helps to elevate our own work and abilities and encourages us to strive to be better and achieve more. But ever since we were old enough to understand the plot of a Disney movie, we’ve understood that the real prize in life was a guy.
As soon as a young girl hits a certain age, the world tells her she’s imperfect and she needs to do a million things to change and improve. Makeup becomes an expensive necessity, hair must be beaten into submission every day, and let’s not forget that you now have to obsess over every single thing you eat because heaven forbid your body gets bigger. The million and one insecurities and concerns a girl has to deal with as she gets older inevitably has an effect on her confidence. Even one of the biggest musical acts in the world, One Direction, had a hit single blatantly saying that the ideal girl is insecure about her looks and has no idea how beautiful she is.
Luckily, we also have people like Tina Fey commenting on this issue. Has there ever been a movie that better depicted the daily struggle of a North American teenage girl than Mean Girls? Who could forget the scene where Cady realizes that in order to be accepted she has to find something about herself to hate. Isn’t that crazy to think about? That we would actually want another girl, another human being, to actively hate something about herself?
Women need to recognize the bad habits we have in order to change them. We say we want girls to be confident but how quick are we to criticize a girl for being arrogant or cocky if we perceive her as having just a little too much confidence for our taste? It’s as if we’re saying, “Be sure of yourself. Believe in yourself. Oh, no. That’s a little too much now, take it easy. It might be time to knock you down a peg or two.” The reason we’re threatened by another woman’s confidence is because we haven’t yet achieved that within ourselves. How dare she feel so great when I’m still feeling so bad?
Humility is a lovely quality.
But it is capable of living alongside confidence. We shouldn’t begrudge someone for living their life seemingly free of society’s unfair restraints. The next time you see a girl wearing something you wouldn’t have the guts to or behaving in a way that seems crazy to you, give her a compliment and be kind. Putting positivity into the world will not only make others feel good, but it’ll make its way back to you eventually. A kinder world benefits everyone.