Girls must fight insecurity and jealousy, not each other

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Girls must fight insecurity and jealousy, not each other

A few days ago, I was speaking to a friend in class when she mentioned another girl who we both know.

 

As my friend admiringly commented on her flawless skin, her soaring grades, and her forever-sunny disposition, I distinctly remember thinking, “Well, she’s not that great,” and trying to find a flaw of her’s to pick at.

 

When I could not, I left the conversation feeling inexplicably inadequate and, I will admit it, annoyed.

 

That girl has never wronged me. In fact, we joke around in class and help each other with homework on a daily basis. She and I are friends, good friends, yet I resented her–and all because she was an incredible person.

 

More specifically, because she was an incredible girl.

 

This is a prominent example of the animosity and natural jealousy that has been fostered between young teenage girls, one I did not realize I had participated in from possibly as young as elementary school.

 

Since then, I have realized that the friction so many women experience with other women is not just “catty” or “overdramatic” behavior. It is something much more.

 

This issue is coming from a place of insecurity and inferiority that our society consistently ignores at best and encourages at worst.

 

Growing up a girl in this world means shouldering an immense amount of pressure to look and act a certain way and young girls pick up on this very fast. They are bred for survival in a world where men can “rate” their physical attractiveness on a two-dimensional numerical scale, where their desirability lies in their dress size and where, over and over, they are told to look pretty and play nice or they won’t be liked.

 

This is where the heart of the problem lies: so many girls seek validation not from themselves, but from others. “Do they think I’m pretty?” and “Am I good enough for them?” are some the most common questions girls viciously and obsessively impose onto themselves.

 

Naturally, this need to impress translates into a feral competition amongst girls.

 

As a racial minority whose parents are first-generation immigrants, I was extremely sheltered and barely spoke English as a child. I spent the better half of my childhood feeling culturally isolated and like I was somehow always five frustrating steps behind other girls.

 

So naturally, my envy transformed into an ugly and unwarranted resentment towards them.

 

We cannot do this to one another.

 

When we talk behind our best friend’s back, or trade dirty bathroom secrets, or ostracize a girl we secretly feel inferior to, we are shooting down our own comrades. We are trying scale an impossible and demeaning pyramid, and instead of helping our companions, we are ripping them down.

 

As a girl, I know firsthand how crippling it can be on days where my body feels like it is the most important thing about me, where scrolling through another girl’s Instagram is disheartening enough to make me want to never leave my bed, but those days are not mine alone to shoulder. As Melissa Newman-Evans said in her poem 9 Things I Would Like to Tell to Every Teenage Girl, “you need to hold up your sisters…and everyone is your sister.”

 

It is so easy to forget that every girl is familiar with the feeling of inadequacy at some point or another, even the ones we perceive to be perfect.

 

What I felt sitting there and listening to my friend talk about somebody else’s talents was not anger but, instead, an irrational fear that somehow, I was failing in the face of another girl’s success. I have felt this way on more than one occasion and it is something I have actively fought and continue to fight today.

 

Follow Kelly Wei @kellylinwei

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