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Women being harsh rather than supportive - a personal observation

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Old 10-11-2011, 02:46 AM   #1
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Default Women being harsh rather than supportive - a personal observation

The 'Evil Motiviations' thread got me to thinking about weight loss and female competition. I get a lot of catty comments by female relatives who are much small than I am. Case and point - my cousin, Jenny, is a size 5. I am a size 14/16. I'm not even "a threat" to her regarding getting men's attention. So why does she make snide remarks about my weight? My aunt, who has lost a lot of weight and looks wonderful, gets on my case about my weight all the time.

I don't get it. I may understand if I was near their size and they might get catty because of some sort of unspoken competion, but why be rude and catty to women who obviously are A LOT bigger than you?

Got any theories about this one? I'm all ears.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:54 AM   #2
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Maybe it makes them feel better about what insecurities they have if they make fun of you. Maybe they're jealous that you're making positive changes in your life. Who knows!

I do think that women in general spend a lot of time judging themselves and those around them, regardless of comparative weight/size/height/skin color/other factor.
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Old 10-11-2011, 03:03 AM   #3
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I don't know the whys. But I agree with you. I think it's threatening for many women to see other women succeeding in becoming thinner.

I have seen "Evil Motivations" threads on the general weight loss support (with responses mostly from people considered overweight) and on the featherweights board (with responses mostly from people who are a healthy BMI). Both have a lot of the same competitiveness and cattiness you discuss: being excited about being the thinnest in the room, trying to be thinner than the hot cousin/sister, etc.

I have no problem with vain motivations, like wearing a bikini, buying lingerie, etc. But catty, competitive motivations about being smaller/hotter/more attractive than other people I don't think are a healthy or sustainable way to fuel self-confidence and self-respect that are needed on a weight-loss journey.

My sister has always been the "pretty" one of the two of us, about 20 lbs lighter than I am. I spent most of my life trying to compete with her aesthetically, and realized (finally) in the last year it's a really terrible thing to do to our relationship. I try now to separate my weight loss from her appearances. I'd love to lose a few more pounds, but it finally has nothing to do with her, her appearance, or her weight.

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Old 10-11-2011, 05:04 AM   #4
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This is how I see it..

I think it makes them feel guilty. They feel guilty because you are actaully taking control and being healthy. I think they feel like you will or are judging them when you eventually become healthy/skinny/thin or what ever you want to call it.

I think in the end it is about how they feel about themselves and then they unintentionally take it out on you.
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indiblue View Post
I don't know the whys. But I agree with you.

I have seen "Evil Motivations" threads on the general weight loss support (with responses mostly from people considered overweight) and on the featherweights board (with responses mostly from people who are a healthy BMI). Both have a lot of the same competitiveness and cattiness you discuss: being excited about being the thinnest in the room, trying to be thinner than the hot cousin/sister, etc.

I have no problem with vain motivations, like wearing a bikini, buying lingerie, etc. But catty, competitive motivations about being smaller/hotter/more attractive than other people I don't think are a healthy or sustainable way to fuel self-confidence and self-respect that are needed on a weight-loss journey.
When I was reading that thread I was thinking how some people are losing weight just to become the skinny mean girl that so many people complain about in other threads. I do wonder how many of those people have always been overweight and still think skinny = hottness, happiness, no problems, easy life etc. If they really think losing weight is going to translate into being the hottest person in the room or automatically winning all the catty female competitions, they are in for a rude awakening.

As for the catty-ness - I think some people lose weight and then want to change the world by making everyone else lose weight. lol They have good intentions but are going about it the wrong way.
Others are the type of people who have "evil motivations" and want to be the skinniest in the room and your weight loss is threatening that.
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Old 10-11-2011, 05:26 AM   #6
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I will admit to wanting to feel prettier than my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend or something similar....

When I was much younger and VERY overweight, 14 or so, I remember wanting to be skinnier and prettier than my sister. But she was also a mean teenager at the time and would call me fat - so I suppose I was feeling vengeful.

I don't have any theories- I hate to say this at the expense of sounding mean, but I think your aunt and cousin are bored, they have nothing better to worry about in life and are narrow-minded. That's it. (I'm sorry - I'm sure they also have good qualities)
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:44 AM   #7
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It's the oppressed turning into the oppressor. This is a common social phenomenon. Women pick on other women all the time--they become societal enforcers. It's amazing how often women want to bring another woman down, especially if she is being successful.

This same thing happens in other oppressed groups, e.g. racial minorities.

You might just ask them straight out sometime why they are feeling that it's always OK to rag on your weight. See what they say.

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Old 10-11-2011, 08:05 AM   #8
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I don't get the cattiness, but people are always talking about how "good" I am being because I don't go off plan and eat any of the treats we have at work. Even the other people who are working on losing some weight do have treats sometimes - which is fine, everyone's got their own path. But they always compare themselves to me and say they could never do what I do, etc. And that feels a little weird, because it really is just a choice I've made to stick like glue to my plan, it doesn't mean I'm some freak or something!!
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:46 AM   #9
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I don't get any cattiness, and I'm very thankful that I'm not a person who feels any of it either. Not to say that posting something like, "I want to be skinnier and hotter than (fill in the blank)" is just terrible or anything, but it's not what drives me personally. I think it's a lot more healthy to be driven to be the best you can be instead of finding motivation in wanting to one up someone in your life.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:53 AM   #10
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I posted some pretty dang vain, catty, and evil motivations in the Evil Motivations thread, and I am not ashamed of it. I think it would just be plum dishonest to say that I didn't want to be the pretty wife, lol. I spent my entire life slightly overweight and uncomfortable in my own skin. I've lived 2 years on the "thin" side of the fence, and there's absolutely no comparison between the two in regards to quality of life. No, losing weight didn't solve all my problems, and I didn't magically transform into a bikini model or anything. But it gave me an overwhelming amount of confidence and pride. Sure, I'd love to tell you I'm stoic and humble and completely un-vain. But, I'm not. I'm human, and I was raised in American society as a female where pressures to be thin and beautiful and compete with other females is very high. I'm not saying that's necessarily right, but it is what it is. It's just human nature, and it's just how the female human brain works to feel competitive with other females.

BUT, there is a huge difference between having some personal guilty thoughts about "I hope I get hotter than she is" or something, or even revealing them in a funny Evil Motivations thread, and actually taking some of those feelings out on another human being. Because we are human, we have that nasty side of competitive and vain human nature, but we also have conscious thought and the ability for compassion. It's just fact that vain thoughts will float through my head, whether I want them to or not. But I am perfectly capable of not letting those thoughts become actions because I don't want to hurt another person.

That said, I realize and accept the fact that *I* have vain thoughts about my body compared to other peoples' bodies, and I realize and accept that other people have vain thoughts about *MY* body. But it would be crushing if we had to hear all the thoughts about ourselves that floated through peoples' minds. And likewise, it would be downright mean if we acted on our own vain thoughts. Just because a woman feels competitive or has vain thoughts doesn't mean she has any right to act on it. She is also a woman, and has probably felt the sting of cruelty from another girl, and I just don't get how or why girls continue to be so nasty to each other.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBird3 View Post
Case and point - my cousin, Jenny, is a size 5. I am a size 14/16. I'm not even "a threat" to her regarding getting men's attention. So why does she make snide remarks about my weight? My aunt, who has lost a lot of weight and looks wonderful, gets on my case about my weight all the time.
I suspect your aunt is actually trying to help you. Especially since she has lost a lot of weight herself and her daughter is thin, she probably feels she need to step in and take charge and make you see that {she feels} you should lose weight. Of course, she is doing it in a completely wrong-headed fashion. But there are plenty of people, even loving husbands, who think the right way to motivate someone to lose weight is to make them feel bad about being fat (like they weren't already).

It's hard to know where your cousin is coming from without more context. She might just be mean, or she might actually be trying to motivate you too. I'll admit, mean is more likely, but people are pretty clueless about how to change something in other people (answer: almost always, you can't -- it has to come from them. But sometimes you can inspire them, usually through example and encouragement of their own efforts.)
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:12 AM   #12
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Reading the "evil motivations" thread was very troubling. Why do so many women want to be in a competition with one another? Someone who is thin is not automatically better than someone who is not and it makes me wonder about the true personalities of some of those out here to lose weight. You may lose 100 pounds but if it changes you into a bitter, competitive person is it worth it?

I'm not going to stand up here and say I don't have those thoughts that I'd like to be the "skinny" one, but I try to stop myself from acting holier than thou about it. I struggled with my weight for my entire life—for me to turn into those people that made elementary school and middle school **** for me would just be going against everything I believe in and everything I vowed to fight against as a teacher.

These competitions as adults; feeling "better" than another woman because you're skinny? This is how bullying starts. Children pick up on this behavior and think it's ok and soon the cycle continues into another generation. For anyone who is "different," school soon becomes a living **** that they can't figure out how to escape from.

I was there. I was the overweight kid that was excluded and picked on. I cried myself to sleep at night wishing that I could just be skinny like the other girls and that I would have friends. So many girls felt they were "better" than me because they were skinny and I was not. They weren't any better than me at all—society just put them on a pedestal because they were the "ideal" and I was not.

I'm a teacher now and I vow to not let this behavior pass through my classroom door. I WILL NOT turn into those girls. I WILL NOT let any of my students act that way. I am determined to stop the cycle in any way I can and ensure that another girl or boy isn't crying themselves to sleep just wishing that they were skinny and like the other kids.

I'm modeling good behavior. I'm showing kids the best that I can that it's not about how you look—we're ALL BEAUTIFUL AND WE ALL MATTER.


I apologize for the long post, but this really hits a sore spot with me.

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Old 10-11-2011, 09:30 AM   #13
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We're all human. When you have someone in your life who has always put you down, or to whom you have always played second fiddle, it's only natural to fantasize about just once being on the other side of that.

I think Megan hit the nail on the head. There's no harm in harboring that kind of fantasy or even confessing it here. The difference lies in how we conduct ourselves. I will give the benefit of the doubt, and guess that most people who say "oooh, just once I'd like to show her!" will not go so far as to actually do anything mean or harmful once they reach their goals. It's just a fantasy, a natural, normal way of dealing with a lifetime of putdowns.
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:52 AM   #14
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I tend to think that both women and men are biologically driven to attract the opposite sex, whether we're in a relationship or not. It's the preening peacock thing. Competition for mates is natural and normal.

I'll say this: I'm a lot more likely to carefully choose what I am going to wear and how I apply my makeup or fix my hair if I know other attractive women are going to be at the event I am attending, especially if desirable males will be there (and I am happily married!). It's instinct, I think. BUT if it's just some of my guy-pals hanging out with us casually, they see me in ratty tees and a pony tail. If they'll be bringing along their girlfriends/wives, I am more likely to take an extra step to look nicer.

Some of this is BECAUSE women are catty. I don't want their girlfriends sitting there thinking, "Geez, banananutmuffin sure is letting herself go these days" and then snicker about me behind my back.

But I truly believe a lot of it has to do with an innate drive to compete for sexual mates.

That said, men are just as catty as women. Hubby always talks about how one girl we know has gained a lot of weight over the last year and looks "fat." Personally, I think she still looks good, and I say so. But he's pretty hard on her.

Come to think of it, I am also more likely to care about my appearance if we are going somewhere where there will be a person there who usually compliments me. Both one of my guy pals and my BIL often remark on how good I look after I lose some weight. So if we'll be seeing them, I take an extra interest in my appearance. Obviously, this is pure vanity. Not sure if it counts as catty or not.

Age is a factor, too. (But again, that's related to biology to certain extent, as well as maturity.) As I've gotten older, my eye toward other women is less critical. If a woman gains a few pounds, I think she still looks good. In my younger years, I would have been a harsher critic (in my mind).

Actual cattiness toward someone--as in, making comments to the person that are critical or harsh--is different from the biological imperative to compete. Instead, I tend to think that's more about low self esteem. Unless the words are from love and consideration (e.g. "I'm concerned about your health"), then telling someone they are unattractive is merely mean spirited pettiness.
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Old 10-11-2011, 10:11 AM   #15
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As someone who posted in the evil motivation thread, just because I want to be skinnier than my mom or anyone else does not mean I would turn into a mean skinny girl. I'd never throw it in anyone's face or use my weight loss as a means to hurt someone's feelings. It's just a secret desire that I thought was safe to share here. But would I like my mom to eat her own words, since she always had mean spirited comments of her own about my weight? You're damn right I would.

The cattiness and the need for women to bring other women down is a side effect from all of us being raised in a patriarchy that encourages it. We're all programmed to be this way for our own survival (either literal survival or sexual survival).
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