I do not feel good about these messages. I want other women to feel loved and supported by me, not intimidated and envious. The latter are very negative emotions; I want women to feel good when they are around me.
When I was in middle school, I felt envy a lot. I was a nerd who loved reading and was excited about algebra. The cool girls were always laughing and the boys looked at them and they had right clothes and makeup. I hated feeling jealous of how they looked and what they had. I decided, at around age 14, that I needed to figure out how to feel good about myself, which I couldn’t do if I was busy envying someone else. So I paid attention to what I envied, and I either made a plan to get it (or be it) or I dismissed it as something lovely, but not for me.
I have tried, consciously and consistently, since middle school, to pay attention to my envy.
I do sometimes envy women I see. I envy toned, fit bodies. So I practice yoga three times a week and I eat healthy, small portions. I’d love to be more fit than I am, but that would require me to work out more, which I choose not to do. So when I see a woman with sculpted biceps, I admire them and move on. I also envy woman authors. I’d love to take one of the ideas in my head and turn it into a book, but that would require me to make time in each day to write, and I choose not to do that at this point in my life. So when I articles about women authors, such as Anna Quindlen or Anita Shreve or Sue Monk Kidd, I bow my head with respect and I move on.
When I envy a woman in a movie or magazine, a celebrity, I remind myself that she isn’t real. She’s an airbrushed, managed, created version of what some corporate man thinks a woman should be. There’s nothing to envy there because what she looks or acts like isn’t attainable.
When I envy the Facebook posts, twitter feeds, Instagram images or other on-line versions of the women I know, I quickly remind myself that these are curated, polished glimpses into peoples’ lives, and are there for my entertainment. If I admire a specific outfit, or look, or home décor, I can buy those things myself, or at least some inexpensive version of them.
If I spend my time envying other women, that takes away time I could be spending loving my own life. Envy shrivels when I realize that I may not have it all, but I have everything I want. Maybe that’s something to envy, but anyone can have it – self-love is free.