Having spent a long weekend with one of the most beautiful girls I know, I started to think about our friendship, how it has changed over the years and the impact of having friends who, despite their individuality, are no doubt conventionally beautiful.
My friends are all gorgeous, inside and out, but, like everyone, they have things about themselves they don’t like. My physical hang-ups have mainly revolved around my body: not being thin enough; being unable to get rid of my stretch-marks, cellulite etc. Now that I’m 26, the lines around my eyes are a reminder that I’m getting older; I don’t leave the house without my concealer.
There is not a single friend who I haven’t compared myself to. I have a round face with full cheeks so the moment I’m next to somebody whose face is more defined, I begin to feel like a chipmunk. Before being written off as a narcissist, I aim to explore what it is that makes many of us women feel discontent with what we have and who we are; our constant need to self improve and be “the best” amid our troop. Indeed, you will have to bare with me, bare with me, the way I bare myself after a night out and three makeup wipes.
An insecure woman can make a very dangerous friend. Which is a shame considering we’re all full of insecurities. I remember being 14 and telling my friends I wouldn’t be joining them at the arcade because that way they’d have less competition to deal with. It’s shameful, but at the time I was fueled with rivalry and self-doubt. I remember being vain and angry; insecure; wanting to prove some kind of point to the world (the world being me because that’s who it revolved around).
Quite recently, I had an awkward encounter with a friend who before a night out kept comparing our features. She went on tell me how good she was feeling about herself and then asked if I was feeling good too, which made me question what her deal was. Was she feeling good about herself? Or was she trying to make me feel bad about myself?
Perhaps she genuinely wanted me to feel good, without wishing to dish out a compliment. Whatever it was, it was a situation I analysed immediately due to my own female knowing. This is a friend who usually rocks out in sweats, with so much intelligence and typically against female objectification. The whole episode surprised me, but I’ve used it as an example to highlight how girls sometimes set themselves apart rather than sticking together. Based on our human complexity, it’s hard to stay awake in a society which celebrates disillusioned exteriors.
When I first visited my German friend, aged 17, I recall how alien it felt for me to receive little admiration. I can pathetically admit that prior to this trip, the majority of self-gratification I received stemmed from being “pretty”. I soon learnt how it felt to feel inadequate; invisible next to somebody regarded “physically better”.
In hindsight, this trip was a big lesson for me. I was finally able to empathise with girls who never feel physically good enough, who are constantly compared and belittled themselves based on not fitting an aestethic mold. It was a wake up call to invest energy into other areas, to reevaluate my substance and stop being so goddam pathetic.
Thanks to the learning, I transformed what was a superficial friendship and realised the corners it had left to explore. In recent years, on the occasions where my friend and I go out, it is no longer about the people around us; our eyes stay focused on eachother because the leers of strangers are irrelevant. We appreciate our true beauty: our humor, consideration, trust and sisterhood. Truth is you can’t always be everyones cup of tea and who gives a fuck? Do you want to be someones trophy? Or do you want to be seen as a whole?
I find men often act as the catalysts for female friends to turn against each other. There have been countless times I’ve witnessed guys throwing shallow & empty compliments at one female whilst ignoring the other. What they are doing is basically saying only one friend is worth engaging with, whilst the other is fine being ignored. It’s an unfortunate truth that humans can be fickle, we judge with our eyes before understanding what we’re looking for. It might be true that we can’t help who we’re physically attracted to, but we can definitely find a more considerate way to connect with strangers.
I recall nights out, you know, the “fun before the fun”, when my friends and I have transformed from “girls-next-door” to “girls-on-fleek”. We could spend a good solid hour gaping in front of the mirror, with a familiar feeling of angst in the air. The elephant in the room, our egos, are never acknowledged. It can be a painful and strained grooming ritual; I feel sad that our strategy to confidence-build requires so much irrelevant effort.
We are all special and unique in our own way – no stranger should be able to dictate whether we’re good enough. When faced with that familiar stab of competitiveness, I now talk about it and laugh it off – there’s just so much more to life. Forget about how you appear to others and dress up for yourself – leaving your ego at the door. We are far from a perfect species and never will be, but we can certainly boost the confidence of those we love on levels more profound than just surface.