The Up and Down


We do it in groups. We do it alone. We do it in public. We do it behind closed doors. We’ve done it to our co-workers, classmates, even strangers on the street. At times it’s been unconscious. Other times, we were well aware. Yes, we’re guilty of sizing up other women. Our eyes almost instinctively travel from the tip of their toes to the top of their heads. We compare our outfits, our bodies, our makeup and our hair.

She thinks she’s so cute.

The thoughts begin. A woman walks into the bar or boardroom, and we’re immediately assessing her appearance. Sometimes it’s as subtle as, “Those jeans do nothing for her.” Or, “Ugh, what was she thinking when she got dressed?” Whether it occurs daily or every so often, many of us put other women down in order to feel better about ourselves. We nitpick and compare, notice others’ flaws as a distraction from our own. There’s the pressure to compete, outperform and even impress other women. But why?

Sometimes we adopt the very same superficial standards that we’re held up to. As a product of our society, it’s hard not to. A woman deemed physically attractive possesses a kind of social control. As a result we feel threatened, making that woman across the room our rival.

We are more than our beauty and our bodies. When we stop the catty remarks and piercing glares, we acknowledge this and empower one another. When we can pay another woman a genuine compliment, we set the tone. We make a deliberate declaration that asserts, “I am not your competition. I am your colleague. I am not your opponent. I am your friend. I am not your adversary. I am an ally.”

But first, the shift must begin within.

-Audra E. Lord

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