Why Women Compete With Each Other

Katie Sweeney

Whenever I walk into a room full of females I’m not very close with, say at a bridal shower, I feel anxious. My mind fills with questions: Will I get along with these girls? Will they be nice and welcoming or catty and distant? Inevitably, I compare myself to them thinking that certain ladies are more successful or better looking than myself. I know that this sort of thinking isn’t positive, but according to The New York Times “feeling on guard around other ladies is normal for a lot of women,” so I’m not alone.

Women are constantly competing with one another and while most research shows that we “are compelled to level the playing field by any means necessary to make sure we have access to the best genetic material,” author Emily V. Gordon has come up with another theory of female competitiveness. She believes that “we aren’t competing with other women, ultimately, but with ourselves — with how we think of ourselves. For many of us, we look at other women and see, instead, a version of ourselves that is better, prettier, smarter, something more.”

What she’s saying makes perfect sense to me — when I’m comparing myself to women that I don’t know I’m really just imagining that they are better than me. Since I don’t know them, I can’t accurately say if they are better than me or not, so in a way I am competing with myself. It’s an interesting thing to think about and a topic I plan to discuss with girlfriends in the very near future.

Learn more about the competitive nature of females by reading Mean Girls, Meaner Women.

Do you find yourself competing with other women? What are your motives for this? 

Opening image: Todd Barry for Self

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