Libby Mayfield is back to give us her thoughts on the media’s obsession with pitting women against each other.
When it comes to women, if there’s one thing the right-wing media loves more than objectification, it’s pitting girls against each other.
A prime example of how magazines like to do this is through “who wore it better?” features. At best, these are a poor way to fill three square inches of glossy paper, and at worst, they’re another cog in the wheel of the media’s tact to make every woman feel self conscious about her appearance. These features milked and grew the idea of not only having to look good, but having to look different to everyone – plenty of American teen films have the pre-prom/party dilemma scene where the question, “what if she’s wearing the same dress I am?” And of course, if “she” is, disaster breaks loose.
Of course, in these situations, if one can’t look different, they have to at least look better than whoever else is wearing the outfit. This ties into the idea that whatever we wear must look good, else someone will “wear it better” and we’ll be made to feel self conscious over it. I don’t know whatever happened to being able to wear what we liked because it’s comfy or feels nice, but it doesn’t exist in the media’s world.
When they’re not publishing articles in which they reduce successful, talented women to a single image captured at a probably unflattering angle, you’ll see plenty of double page spreads on how so-and-so’s boyfriend has ran off with someone else. Another popular one is where two women have both been seen in public with the same guy on separate occasions, or there’s a piece on an ex-girlfriend and a current girlfriend. And each time, the pairs of women will be compared, not even on their qualities as a person, but on superficial, aesthetic, matters.
Eventually this mindset seeps into the real world and it becomes an everyday thought. Whether it’s picking faults in your crush’s girlfriend, or sitting next to another women whilst waiting for a job interview and noticing she has a scuff on her shoe, these magazines are trying to tailor girls to criticise each other – and it all links back to money.
Magazines are often criticised for photoshopping cover girls into a mythical “ideal”, and runaway models are equally slighted for being too thin, but the fashion industry really struck gold when they realised they could turn any girl against the people they already know – from classmates to a stranger wearing their outfit. If we pick faults in other people, we’re bound to see them in ourselves too. If it’s not a case of, “I look better than her”, it’s, “she looks better than me…so I need to look better”. This drives us to buy new clothes/make up/hair straighteners. The fashion media makes us see flaws in ourselves that don’t exist, so we buy the things we don’t need that they’re selling us.
I’ve even seen girls post on social media outfits they’ve seen others wearing in public with a criticism as the caption. Imagine scrolling through your Twitter and seeing someone you don’t know has posted a photo of you with something like, “ew, what is she wearing?!”. It’s wrong.
It’s not a competition. Compliment other women. If you see someone wearing an outfit you like, tell them, don’t see fault in yourself. And if you see a girl at a party wearing the same dress as you, talk to them and make friends over a cocktail.