“Who does she think she is?” I used to have a friend who would say those words almost every time we were out together. I would turn to look at the offender and it was typically a woman who was walking confidently to another table, likely well-dressed and offering a huge smile as she greeted her group. The friend would devolve into picking apart her outfit, hair, laugh–you name it.
What I saw, on the other hand, was confidence overflowing–a woman walking in like she owned the place. After about the 100th time of particular this friend lambasting a total stranger, I responded with, “She thinks she’s amazing. And I think I want what SHE is having.”
The strangers were never perfect. If you looked hard, you likely could find exceptions to the fashion-magazine-ideal of beauty, yet they all had this abstract quality which was viscerally offensive to my friend, who consistently claimed that she was 100% comfortable in her own skin. I decided this couldn’t be limited to just my friend, so I started paying attention, admittedly eavesdropping in restaurants while waiting for Himself or a friend. Far too often, I would hear women criticizing complete strangers in much the same fashion, and it is beyond discouraging.
We all went through middle school, and can attest that it was THE WORST. We never, however, thought we would still be dealing with this at age 30, 40, 50. Sadly, I recently learned that there are psychological studies on the “mean girl” characteristic, and it appears we may have evolved to compete in this way. As mothers, our physical safety prevented us from physical combat to gain power, so we lashed out against those we deemed as threats to our social standing. Let me pause here to share my thoughts on this:
Seriously, ladies, we can do better and we should. If we want to topple the patriarchy, we cannot keep cutting down other women. But I digress…
I recently read Glennon Doyle’s Untamed.
That could almost just sit there by itself, and if you read it, you are nodding YES, GIRL, YES!! I’ve highlighted soooo many nuggets about being a goddamn cheetah, Eve being the first feminist (a theory I did a project on in 1987, by the way. You can check it out HERE). There’s little left UNhighlighted.
For our purposes today, I want to share one a-ha moment from the book.
I have been conditioned to mistrust and dislike strong, confident, happy girls and women. We all have. Studies prove that the more powerful, successful, and happy a man becomes, the more people trust and like him. But the more powerful and happy a woman becomes, the less people like and trust her. So we proclaim: Women are entitled to take their rightful place! Then, when a woman does take her rightful place, our first reaction is: She’s so…entitled. We become people who say of confident women, “I don’t know, I can’t explain it—it’s just something about her. I just don’t like her. I can’t put my finger on why.”
Doyle, Glennon. Untamed (p. 285). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
We have spent our lives being conditioned to think constantly apologizing, living “small,” demurring to others is MOST attractive. We desire the power that comes from being confident, but if WE don’t have it, we often resent anyone else who does. THIS is where mean girls are born. THIS is what breeds gossip, backstabbing, and nastiness.
Here’s the thing, ladies (and any guys reading): dragging someone else down doesn’t improve YOUR status. Frankly, it is a really ugly look. It says to the world “I know I am competing with HER and feel like I’m losing.” The truly confident woman not only believes in herself, but gives ZERO fucks anymore WHAT anyone else thinks. This is precisely WHO SHE THINKS SHE IS.
The queen of this, in my opinion, is Coco Chanel. She played by her own set of rules and was a true DISRUPTOR and total BADASS. I have so many books about her, quotes of her…if we each had just one drop of her attitude, we would be better for it.
Chanel didn’t like the boxes that women were put into whether in fashion or career. She didn’t just break the rules, she made all new ones. She KNEW it was time for real change and that she was the woman to affect the change. That takes some serious cajones, particularly in her era.
This particular quote is perfection. It acknowledges that Chanel knew her notoriety was coveted by many–that she was living rent free in other women’s heads–and she didn’t give it a single moment of her time. Think about that. Can you do it?
Sadly, confidence like this isn’t BORN. It is learned. The good news is that the MOST confident people are also, arguably, the most broken. They have faced numerous challenges (personal, familial, professional) and risen above. They are laser focused on self-improvement. They know that it takes strategy and constant vigilance to keep those negative voices at bay.
They also know that critiquing their peers, unsolicited, makes their own low self-worth apparent to everyone around them. They have empathy and curiosity about the people they meet everyday and make no one feel lower than them. They practice the art of compliment every day. Don’t know what this is? That’s ok, I just made it up.
So how does one get to this place? There are exercises we can do to change our mindset and break the hurt and negative voices of the past. I have developed a system for that with years of training sales teams and styling clients. Is it for you? The best way to find out is to ask for a complimentary assessment. But there are some quick tweaks each of us can do to be TRUE feminists, supporting others, and letting that beauty shine from the inside out.
The most important piece of YOUR confidence is asking yourself “who do I think I am?” Your answer should always be “me. And I am fucking fabulous.”
- Walk tall. Holding your shoulders back indicates confidence.
- Make eye contact and smile as you pass people. Even while wearing masks for the COVID-19 pandemic, a smile shows in your eyes.
- Practice the art of compliment. Find something nice to say to strangers during your daily interactions. Noticing aspects of another, the beauty they exude, makes social interactions more like art appreciation. Plus the giving of compliments make the giver FEEL better–you’ve given someone else a smile.
- Resist the urge to criticize, even under your breath. If you find yourself thinking “who does she think she is” ask yourself WHY it bothers you so much. Do you covet her style? Do you wish you had her confidence? Reframe and be honest about where you feel a lack ,causing this reaction.
- Lean into empathy. Remember everyone has a story, and the scars they bear, like yours, are what makes us all unique and beautiful.
- When observing someone like in number 4, think about what you may admire about their confidence….is it something you can emulate? Maybe it’s time to start asking yourself who you think YOU are, and become her….