No matter what the trigger might be — I think we all go to a judgemental place inside ourselves sometimes. We can’t help our knee jerk reactions to certain things.
However, what’s important is to figure out WHY. Where are the feelings stemming from? While I understand that we aren’t going to mesh with everyone, because of personalities, differing opinions or otherwise, there are certain crimes we commit against our peers that require a closer look.
For me, it started with having a friend in my life who would call me on my shit, and help me get to the bottom of why instead of immediately participating in the bashing session. It was the first time someone has stopped me in my tracks before I went “there.”
We NEED to hold each other accountable to be better. There’s a reason Tina Fey wrote this quote into the movies Mean Girls:
CRIME #1: JEALOUSY
Admiration is healthy and motivating. Jealousy is your brain’s way of telling you something important.
Humour me, but I’m pretty sure it was this article in Cosmo that made me re-think jealousy. It’s worth reading.
Pay attention to envy. Sometimes it can remind you of your values/goals and how you’ve strayed from them. Sometimes it’s a sign that you’re putting money on the wrong stock and sometimes you just need a gentle remember that just because someone else shines doesn’t mean you can’t too.
I was jealous of people who appeared to be living their lives unafraid of what people think, and freely expressing themselves. Essentially, anyone who was confident and owning their life without fear.
WHY? Because I was scared of everything, most of all what people thought of me. I had always wanted to truly feel that way about myself but it never came naturally, so I put on an act of being confident without actually being able to walk the talk. This forced me to confront the fact that I had to dig deep and do the work to really and truly start accepting myself.
Ask yourself why, and keep asking variations of why until you drill to the core of why you feel the need to be jealous of someone’s vacation photos on Instagram, their new apartment or your co-workers promotion. It might be about as ugly as a colonoscopy, but knowing you don’t have cancer is worth the excessive amount of laxatives and discomfort.
Ok maybe that metaphor was a bit of stretch, but basically it’s an opportunity to look within yourself and maybe make some changes.
CRIME #2: FEELING “FEMASCULATED” AND PUTTING OTHER WOMEN ON THE PERFECT PEDESTAL
Feeling femasculated is a term I first learned from the book F*CKED by Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson. The writer describes it as feeling like you aren’t feminine enough, sexual enough or hot enough. Hutchinson talks about her boyfriends’ girlfriend before they met (who was a pornstar), and says feeling this way has the ability to turn us into “ugly mean-girls.”
This is harmful for so many reasons, but most of all because we end up feeling like we don’t measure up when we build pedestals. It might lead to wanting to “cut that person down to size” and “who does she think she is?” thinking.
Usually, if not always, it’s about you — not them.
No matter what anybody says or does on Instagram, nobody is perfect nor are they claiming to be. That ‘perfect’ descriptor is something we put on people, usually on social media especially. Straight up, it’s not a healthy form of admiration because it’s not BASED IN REALITY.
Want to know the best way to immediately deconstruct the pedestal? Get to know someone and ask them out for coffee. Realize that they are also human, like you, and that they have feelings, flaws and baggage too. Realize there’s nothing wrong with the fact that you aren’t them, because you’re you. And you are enough in every way.
While putting someone on a pedestal might your initial reaction, it takes effort to look beyond that and unpack your thinking. It’s the only worthwhile way to work through this sort of reaction, especially when you are in an Instagram vortex feeling like garbage.
CRIME #3: SLUT-SHAMING
This one is very near and dear to my heart because it is something I’ve realized over time that I’m SO NOT FUCKING DOWN WITH Y’ALL.
Not long ago, I found a note a friend of mine wrote me in high school, and it went something like this:
Is it true you like ______? Because I heard a rumour you do, and apparently you said it was ok because your boyfriend doesn’t go to our high school. Is it true? If it is, I don’t think you’re slutty, but other people might.
For the record, no I didn’t. I cried in my parents basement after I read that as a 24-year-old because I think it so perfectly encapsulates how slut-shaming starts young.
Here’s the thing: it’s healthy to check in with our friends and ask how they are feeling about their relationships and sex lives, especially if we think they might not be happy. But it should be coming from a place of empathy, caring and non-judgement.
It’s not helpful to use those conversations to feel superior about ourselves.
Like lots of other women, I dealt with crippling body image problems for most of life that still haunt me to this day. So when I used to see other woman freely loving and accepting their bodies and expressing their sexuality, instead of being like FUCK YA YOU GO GIRL – I silently judged. I was rude. I spit out monologues to my boyfriend at the time after scrolling through my social feeds.
And you know what? It didn’t make me feel any better about myself. In fact, it made me feel like shit.
In my mind, slut-shaming is twofold: not only do we need to stop shaming each other for what we choose to do with our bodies, but we also need to stand up to those who try to shame us and put us in our place.
Because believe me, people will try (and some will succeed). Society has conditioned us from the dawn of time to believe that as women we need to be pure, demure and monogamous. Those expectations create pressure, and pressure creates shame. That’s one fucked up physics equation.
I think more than ever there are so many amazing female role models who refuse to take that shame, and shut it down.
Want to see a woman who refuses to be shamed? Watch Spike Lee’s reboot of She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix. Or the two women who host Guys We Fucked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast. There is an entire chapter of the book they wrote (the one I mentioned earlier) devoted to shame, and how prevalent it is in North American culture when it comes to sex.
My final note on this subject: just because you wouldn’t do something or something isn’t your cup of tea sexually doesn’t give you the right to look down on anyone else that has different preferences. Playing it fast and loose with our personal opinions has the ability to hurt other people — be careful and considerate. Nobody likes feeling judged, especially not your friends.
Please feel free to share this with your pals and spread the love.