by Christy Stewart
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A few years ago, I sat amongst a lovely group of church women whom I hardly knew and listened in as they engaged in the same kind of conversation almost every group of women have when they sit down to share a meal together, the ‘fat talk.’ You know how it goes, girls, “Oh I really shouldn’t be eating this …” or “I just can’t seem to lose the last ____ (fill in the blank) pounds after the baby …” or any other explanation of what we are doing to lose weight. One woman spoke up about a new book she had read on the topic, addressing the way we think about food. All of the ladies listened in, hoping to find the new secret to weight loss. “How are we supposed to think about food?” I asked. For up until now I had kept quiet, knowing my place as the lightest woman at the table. “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell us?!” the woman snapped back. Stunned, I gulped down the food in my mouth before I choked on her words. What just happened?
For all of the women who have found themselves standing in the same awkward place, wondering what they’ve done to cause the nails to come out in their female counterparts, I have comprised a list of the top ten things that make women threatening to other women. Pay attention and remember: any one of these things can have you on the outskirts of female companionship. Any combination of these qualities can make you a double or even triple threat. If you have all ten, I hate you, too!
You don’t have to believe it to be true. If the women around you think you’re prettier than them, your fate is sealed. The prettier you are, the more threatened the women around you will feel. Your mere presence makes them feel like an ogre standing next to you. If they are single, they will see you as the competition. If they are married, they will see you as the seductive temptress desiring to steal their man away. My advice? Short of bodily mutation (subtle joke, not a suggestion) there is not much you can do other than play it down. V-necks and mini-skirts will only make your problems worse.
It’s okay to be smart, so long as the people around you aren’t reaching for a dictionary to translate your last sentence. The bigger the words, the smaller your audience feels. Until you really know the people around you, keep the conversation light and the mood lighter. Most people just want to have fun. For you brainiacs out there, deep conversation is fun, so long as you realize that your debate on “Relational Holiness: An Integrative Paradigm for our Time,” is alienating the people around you!
3. Hard Work Ethic
Whether you are the stay-at-home mom who cooks every meal from scratch with organic ingredients grown in your own garden or the professional woman who performs every task above and beyond the call of duty, your “good, better, best, never let it rest” attitude is making everyone else look bad. I know what you’re thinking: those lazy, half-mast, bare-minimum bums need to rise to the occasion or just let it go. Unfortunately, the only thing they want to see go is you.
4. Mean Girls
These are the women who try to bond by putting other women (outside of the group) down, aka gossip. They are judgmental, critical, and/or cold. If she’ll do it to them, she’ll do it to you, so watch out! The most critical people are often the people who have been the most criticized. Take pity on her, but don’t get too close, she bites!
My grandma used to say, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” Well, don’t. Misery loves company, and if the woman’s name is Misery, she’ll hate you. It’s okay to know who you are and to like who you are as long as you aren’t in love with who you are. When you walk into a room, does your presence say, “Here I am!” or “There you are?” Like yourself, but love others, or they will hate you.
6. Dress to Impress
To some women, a pair of high heels is just as good as fish net stockings and a tramp stamp. Don’t ask me why, but they strike fear in the ‘soles’ of all your flip-flopping, ballet flatty, tennis shoe sporting friends. Whether or not you ever stopped liking to play ‘dress up,’ the women around you won’t care. They will question your motivation until their own insecurity eats both them and you alive. Know the dress code and don’t over-do it. There is a thin line between flashy and trashy. Once the women perceive that you’ve out-dressed them, the only line you will be crossing is the one marked “enemy territory.”
It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, you are skinnier than someone else. The thinner you are, the easier you are to dismiss. It’s not because you are so small that they can’t see you, it’s because they are ignoring you. The heavier woman is prone to think that the thinner woman just doesn’t know what it is like. She is less likely to be vulnerable with you, fearing your judgment of her. She is less likely to invite you to the pool with her family, because she doesn’t want her husband to see you in a swimsuit, sorry. Don’t want to gain weight to fit in? Wear baggier clothing.
8. Strong Personality
This kind of woman has an opinion on everything, and she’s not afraid to share it. She always has an answer; it just may not be the right one. She could be far left or far right, extreme spiritually, or extreme hippy, but she can be extremely annoying. If you are a ‘black-or-white’ person, realize that most of the world operates in shades of grey.
You know that girl who always has to win? The one who will use your heart as a stepping stool to the top? Well, she may win the game, but she will lose her friends in the process. And what good is victory when you have no one to share it with? With guys, winning and losing is a part of establishing relationship. With women, the only winners are those who make you feel like one.
The wealthier you are, the more out of touch you may be with ‘real people’ problems, leaving you with a bunch of fake friends. Women connect over their weaknesses as much as their strengths. Your ginormous mansion, and your luxury automobile may be overwhelming to even the most down-to-earth ladies. Unfortunately, even if you can hide your car in the garage, you can’t hide your Gucci purse or your designer jeans. Money talks, and in this case, it may be saying, “I’m too good for you.”
There is a difference between feeling threatened and feeling intimidated. The difference is fear. When a woman feels threatened, she is afraid that you will take (or try to take) away something she has (her man, her confidence, her best friend, the role she has established in her group, etc.) or wants (like a promotion, her future boyfriend, etc.). In any case, these threatening feelings always stem from our own insecurity. We don’t fear the things we are secure in. When a beautiful woman walks in the room, we may be intimidated, we may be jealous, but we won’t feel threatened unless we are insecure about our own looks or our own marriage (if we are in a room full of married couples). Threat (along with the insecurity it stems from) brings out the worst in us. We shut down, lash out, or ice out the threat factor, when we let insecurity get the best of us.
Before the ‘intimidated’ fall into a state of self-righteousness (thinking we are better than the "threatened" girls, we're not), let me state that everyone has insecurities. To move from threatened to intimidated we merely recognize those insecurities for what they are, using those feelings to motivate us towards change, or towards the seemingly ‘perfect woman’ to find out what she has to offer. Who knows, maybe she’ll rub some of that ‘perfection’ off on you.
To the threatening women out there, let me offer you my solemn condolences. It’s tough being alone. I guess you have your striking beauty and outstanding IQ as a consolation prize? All jokes aside, I share these insights in hopes that you will move forward with a newfound awareness, that you will practice humbleness, kindness, and gentleness with the women around you. Go the extra mile to prove that you are more than a pretty face, that your life is not as perfect as it seems, and that you need friends, too. Your attackers strike out of fear, despising parts of themselves more than they could ever despise you.