One of the most vivid memories I have from high school was when I was shopping for prom dresses with a good friend. What started as a bonding experience quickly turned into something much more isolating.
We had completely different bodies. She was tall, thin, and had no hips, and I was shorter with decent-sized thighs. In high school we would bring in a bunch of dresses and trade off trying them all on. Most dress styles were tailored for the body type my friend inhabited, and because of this, she looked “better” in the dresses than I did. Needless to say, my attitude level dropped a few points below annoyed, and I walked out of the mall that day with a new-found dislike for my body, and for my friend.
Why do we hold one body type above all others? Why do we let the fact that people come in different shapes come in between us? That bitter day, years ago, was in part due to women’s magazines. Not only do they allow these body comparisons, women’s magazines encourage readers to pick apart how different women look in the same dress.
This notion has entire sections in magazines devoted to it. The section has gone by many names, but on the Us Weekly web site, it is called “Who Wore It Best?” This section features photos of two or three celebrities wearing the same thing. Sometimes it’s a jacket or a blouse, but most of the time it’s a dress. In the online version, visitors are encouraged to click on the celebrity they think looks the best.
Letting ourselves look at other women this way can seep into our everyday lives. We may start to compare ourselves to others around us, whether it’s the women on TV or a friend in the changing room next to us. This outlook can foster a kind of body competition between women, distracting us from more pertinent issues, such as positive relationships with the people around you or doing well in school or at work.
There is always something that we can find to be envious of — the way that woman can pull off that spunky haircut, or that other woman’s long eyelashes, or maybe the way she can fill out her blouse. What would happen if we stopped being envious of these things and started admiring them? What if we knew that when we said “you look great” that it wouldn’t take anything away from our own beauty?
My challenge to you is to do just that; notice when you may feel jealous or envious and turn it into a compliment for that woman. It is also just as important to recognize the uniqueness and beauty in yourself. Our relationships with other women and our own bodies are too important to fall apart over dress sizes.
If you want to let Us Weekly know how you feel about the “Who Wore It Best” section, you can contact them through their web site.