“Heeeelp meeee!!! I can’t stop comparing myself to others!!!”
Compare and despair.
It happens to every woman at some point…or in many cases, every time they go on Instagram, to WholeFoods, the gym, their child’s school, out with friends, to a beach or in their imagination—so pretty much all the time except sleep. The world can be a self-image beat-down when we feel we can’t stop comparing our body to others.
Comparisons come from our need to self-evaluate: how do I measure up?
We have to look at the bigger cultural picture to understand why we feel this need to evaluate and measure ourselves.
The reason why we compare is because we live in a comparison culture.
Everywhere we go we’re told that we should be something else: we need less wrinkles, smaller waists, fuller hair, stronger nails, cleaner houses etc. etc. It’s a constant barrage of, “how do you measure up?” so it’s no wonder that our default way of thinking is to constantly self-evaluate.
The only reason we evaluate our bodies is because of the ideals that exist.
Imagine a world without media, models, advertisements, a beauty and diet industry…a world without someone telling you that sex appeal is your most important asset and that it comes with a size? “How do you measure up?” would become irrelevant as it relates to our bodies.
Without a standard of beauty, we wouldn’t be thinking that there was anything wrong with us.
The other day I saw a TV ad for tooth whitening strips—this woman was saying she was too embarrassed to be in a photo because of her teeth. After I gave my pug a heart attack from screaming “WTF”, I remembered that when I was a kid tooth-whitening strips didn’t exist. Teeth that didn’t glow like a lunar eclipse were never a mainstream problem. It wasn’t until Proctor and Gamble made it a problem to sell you a solution that we became self-conscious of how unbleached our teeth are. Do you see how crazy this is?
Our need to conform is rooted in our evolution—being rejected from our social group would have meant losing our ability to survive and this was especially true for women. As a result, our brains evolved to give us a hint when we were at risk for being socially rejected by making us experience pain…that same pain you feel when you see women who “check off all the boxes of society’s standard of beauty” and you feel you don’t measure up.
We are biologically wired to want to fit in and avoid the pain of rejection, so of course the obvious way to do that is by living up to the standards that have been placed upon us. But that doesn’t mean we need to buy into it—we can make a conscious choice to limit where we self-evaluate by bucking the system.
Start to be conscious of where this magical thing you are evaluating yourself against is coming from. Who is telling me I should give a shit about these things? Where did this message come from? Why am I letting this corporate machine tell me how I should feel about myself? Question it and see the ridiculousness of it.
I’m not saying you need to grow out your armpit hair and stop wearing makeup (unless you want to), but it’s important to recognize where these messages are coming from and how they are influencing our emotional well-being.
You are so much more than your body and your purpose here is so much bigger than being attractive. Choose to reject the standards and say “I’m not buying it because I’m awesome just the way I am.”
Rebelling against the standards is one way to reinforce this and overcome that persistent need to self-evaluate. The other piece of this is changing our internal dialogue and I’m going to give you a few ways to do that in order to overcome comparisons in next week’s post.