I’ve never entertained the idea that “I’m not like other girls” or that I’m somehow above being jealous of other women. I, too, want Beyonce, Dolly Parton, and Sandra Oh to run me over, step on my face, bury me in a shallow grave. My TikTok For You page is a shrine to the genius and beauty of women, and I, a worshipper, pay my respects to the crop tops and witchy wisdom. And as long as there are drunk girls in bar bathrooms, I want to be leaning against a stall, tearfully handing out tampons.
This, at least, is how I think of myself. It does not match my actual behavior. When I see a woman who has something I want—some veneer of personal and professional flawlessness—I feel bitter. I enter a fugue state of pure Googling, plunging down the rabbit hole face-first, salivating with jealousy. I race through her social media to her first post in 2009 (A close-up of a leaf! Who the hell does she think she is??) I download a PDF of the 78-page college thesis, mumbling unintelligibly. I hold my breath, searching for proof that she is—please, god—older than me.
I don’t think my behavior is that special. But I know it has to stop. Cataloguing other women’s gifts and comparing them to my own is a weird retrograde delusion with no utility. It has never brought me a moment of happiness. This habit is a way of looking at the world from a place of incredible smallness, tricking myself into believing that happiness and security are scarce resources, when I could allow them to be infinite.
In 2021, I want to live in that infinite feeling.
I wish internalized misogyny and jealousy were things I could simply let go of, the way I seem to lose Apple headphones by spontaneously releasing them from my hand in the middle of the street. I don’t think it’s going to work that way—I have to radically retrain myself to rejoice over women.
“We’ve been taught to compare,” says Dr. Maria Paredes, the counselor behind the deeply affirming Instagram With_This_Body. Everybody does it, she told me, but women are trained to do it from a young age—think about the fact that we have beauty contests that actually size up and then rank women. The innate need to compare and compete that all humans feel comes from a very primitive part of the brain, she says, an early biological impulse to take, from before we were social beings. For women, there’s a more recent, socialized reason.
“When we look at the evolution of women’s rights, it’s still very young in terms of women having access to resources,” she says. “We still don’t have the same access. Women still dealing with the trauma of not having been given access—that puts us in a place where we’re operating from that place of scarcity and interpreting anyone else as a threat.” But people of all genders do this, she says, “In an individualistic capitalistic society we’re all primed to compete with each other.”
So what can I do? How can I get free from this smallness?
“In order to create more progress for women, women need to recognise their mortality and their DUTY AND OBLIGATION TO GIRLS AND WOMEN OF FUTURE GENERATIONS,” Adina Miles-Sash texted me. Miles-Sash, who goes by Flatbush Girl on social media, is a women’s rights pioneer and influencer in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. I reached out to her because earlier this year I saw her say in an Instagram story that every time she finds herself feeling jealous of another woman’s successes, she forces herself to do something to actively help that woman’s career.
That feels, to me, like reaching my hand into a tank to stroke the hairy legs of a tarantula. But Miles-Sash says tangibly supporting other women is a matter of future-building. To create a better world for our own daughters, she says, we need to not only be comfortable with other women’s successes but actually “go head-on into their wins and shower them with validation and encouragement, and take whatever resources we have at our disposal to give them even a stronger platform and a bigger voice.” Giving money to fundraisers run by women who have better hair and fewer emotional hangups than me? Supporting their work? Actively rooting for their sucess? I shall try these horrible things.
Paredes recommends, of course, therapy. She also says you should seek “Growth-fostering relationships” with other women—”relationships with others where they’re genuinely happy for you and you’re rooting for them. And not only ‘I’m rooting for them if it helps me, or I’m only rooting for them if I’m also experiencing something good.’”
On TikTok, a popular sound called “Internalized Misogyny” has led to a genre of videos mostly by young women doing a version of what Paredes and Miles-Sash and suggest. #InternalizedMisogyny is a series of little exorcisms—self-administered exposure therapy to other women’s beauty and fame, to turn resentment into respect. Can you train yourself to love a woman you once wanted thrown into a ditch? Yes, say the wise TikTokers of Gen Z, by thinking about how hot the woman is.
“I FUCKING HATE THIS BITCH, I WANT HER IN A DITCH” a voice screams, as an image of a famous woman—Lily-Rose Depp, the color pink, Rashida Jones’ character Karen from The Office—appears on the screen. A voiceover sighs, “Okay, internalized misogyny, let’s go,” followed by a montage of gorgeous images of the woman in question, as “WAP” plays. It’s not that learning to accept Emma Watson into your heart is activism. But getting out of the practice of using famous women as emotional punching bags is a step on the road to not hating women in your own life. It’s a way to slowly come around to yourself.
I’m conscious that in my attempt to be less jealous of other women, I seem to be corroborating an old lie—that women are inherently mean and manipulative. (This is obviously untrue—if you’re going to make a generalization, what group is meaner and more manipulative than men?) Worse, I look like I’m giving into the girl-boss feminism trap, that tells us that women who don’t support other women are going to hell (this is, truly, insane—you don’t have to support people of any gender who are cruel or racist or war criminals, or people who say, “Oh, YOU’RE dressed up today” like they’re the dress police.)
My goal is not to stop disliking other women. Disliking people of all genders is a human right that I wouldn’t give up for the world! My goal is to stop disliking other women because they are women. To stop the silliness of being a woman who perpetuates sexism. To end my relationship with the male-sponsored lie that other women are competition. By making other women’s success a priority on par with our own, Miles-Sash says, aren’t spreading “girl power,” but specifically promoting “women’s health and women’s sexuality and women’s arousal and women’s rights to make decisions for their bodies without any conditions or caveats.”
Bingeing insecurity is out, in 2021. Radical praise is in.
Jenny Singer is a staff-writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
The post This Will be the Year I Stop Being Jealous of Other Women appeared first on Glamour.