What is it about women and constantly wanting to outdo each other in the looks department?
As the stylist tucked the last curl neatly into place, I gave her a warm smile through the mirror, reached into my purse and paid for the makeover—not forgetting to leave a generous tip for her trouble. The mirror told me my hair looked great, I felt good, I felt confident. Walking out of the salon packed with about seven other women, my confidence began to slowly wane. Was there something wrong? Did I have something in my eyes, or worse, my face? The women all stared strongly at me before quickly returning their faces to their mirrors. Not one of them smiled at me, nor did they compliment my new look. Could I have been mistaken? I thought to myself, perhaps I had misjudged how good the hair made me look; maybe it didn’t fit me at all.
“Aunty you don fiiine!”
The security guard at the entrance of the salon enthused as he took the duplicate of the receipt from me on my way out; I left a tip for him as well while smiling and feeling my confidence slowly return. Okay. Great then, at least someone thinks my hair looks stunning, and the number of cars that stopped to offer me a ride as I patiently waited for a taxi confirmed it too.
So my hair looks great after all? Why then did those women in the salon not utter a word of compliment to me? I mean, I wouldn’t say that’s validating; it doesn’t totally remove from the way I feel about myself but it does go a long way.
What is it about women and constantly wanting to outdo each other in the looks department? I find it incredibly tiring not to mention underwhelming. We need to come to the acceptance that not everyone was intended to be drop dead gorgeous and it is perfectly okay for a beautiful woman to think herself beautiful without getting derided for it by fellow women.
There is a snide competition between women, where we allow other women to be beautiful, to an extent. Other women can be pretty, as long as they’re not too pretty. A woman can be beautiful, but if she’s also smart, organized, rich, and has a great relationship? Forget it. We gossip about her and secretly love seeing her slip up. We alternate between wanting to be her and, well, hating her.
This competitive drive, this need to label – am I beautiful? Am I pretty? How pretty? Where do I fall in the beauty spectrum? – keeps us from honouring our unique beauty. Instead of enjoying our beauty, we act like junior high girls who all have to dress alike, talk alike, and look-alike. It SUCKS!
People constantly say women are their own worst enemies. While I don’t totally agree with that, I’m beginning to see the trend. If you have held back from saying a kind word to a fellow woman by way of a compliment or perhaps have scoffed at someone because they thought themselves beautiful, then you are as guilty of this as the ladies who leave those vicious comments about women on blogs.
This is not in any way to say that the crux of a woman’s beauty lies in her physical appearance alone. No. There are several women who even though they aren’t quite as good-looking as the likes of Angelina Jolie or Keri Hilson, still possess beauty is other areas. While one person is blessed with a face that could melt the heart of an angel, another could have a body that would tempt a Pope (metaphor! Hold your horses, religious bigots!) and yet another could be blessed with wit and intelligence that far belies her age.
I think of how I’ve spent much of my life trying to be someone other than me. Or, a better, improved version of me when I could have spent that time celebrating my gifts. My unique beauty, body, personality?
Something I heard in a movie strikes a chord: “God dwells within you, as you.” I don’t have to change and be more like someone else to be okay. I am perfect, just as I am. I am beautiful, just as I am. I can’t be beautiful if I’m ashamed of who I am and what I like. The most beautiful woman that I can be is me.
As I free myself to be authentically, proudly me, I free other women. As I let my beauty shine, I open up a space for other women to shine. Sometimes, this means giving women permission to be drop dead beautiful—prettier than me—and to love them for it.
This is my take, what’s yours?