How Dare Kate Be Prettier Than Us!

by Chloe Jeffreys · 22 comments

in You're Kidding Me, Right?

Its_a_girlWe’ve all see it by now, the glorious pictures of the beautiful, dare I say radiant, Duchess of Cambridge standing on the steps of the hospital next to her beaming husband, the future King of England, a mere few hours after giving birth to the angelic Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

Kate, markedly unlike most of the rest of us, is a glow of post-partum perfection in her little yellow dress, with her long, dark, perfectly coiffed tresses blowing in the breeze.

How Dare Kate Be Prettier

And what have I been reading all over the internet? Bitterness. Lots and lots of snarky female bitterness.

Here’s some quotes about Kate taken directly from my Facebook feed:

“I sure didn’t look like that after I had a baby!”

“How gross!”

“How sad!”

“How pathetic.”

“Poor thing.”

Pictures of “real” women just hours after giving birth themselves have been filling up my Facebook feed reminding all of us that yet another woman has gone and made the rest of us feel shitty about ourselves by daring to be who she is.

How dare she!

While I get that it doesn’t seem fair that Kate has a full staff of attendants at the ready to make sure that nary a hair is ever out of place, I am appalled at the backlash against her as though she has somehow betrayed our gender by showing up the rest of us.

Which leads me to one of my ever-constant thoughts about women:

WHY IS EVERY FUCKING THING WE DO A COMPETITION?

and even more disturbing to me:

Why do we take another woman’s success as a personal attack and a personal failure?

Why Does Kate Make Other Women Feel Insecure?

Kate’s ability to look positively stunning only a few hours after birthing her second child says exactly nothing about you or me. That’s her, and good for her. It has nothing to do with us.  Why do we need to take away from her to feel better about ourselves? Why do we even make it about us? Why can’t we just be glad for her good fortune, admire the things about her that are admirable, and GET ON WITH OUR OWN FUCKING LIVES?

I’ve spent a lot of the past couple of years pondering why women do this to each other. Because I don’t think it’s benign. It’s a symptom of the deep sickness within our gender that we need to face and fix if we’re ever going to grow the hell up and get on with the serious business of saving our planet.

One comment I read that really struck me is that Kate needs to “dial that shit back” because she’s “making strangers want to slap [her]”. Why? Why does she need to dial it back? For whom? What is it about her visible perfection that makes the rest of us want to slap her?

Do men ever feel this way? If they do, they certainly keep it to themselves.

brad-pitt-absFor the movie, Troy, Brad Pitt achieved a level of physical perfection that probably bested even the mythical Achilles. Sometimes, for no reason at all, I pop Troy into the DVD player and watch it with the sound off just so I can admire his god-like beauty. But when that movie came out I didn’t see one article anywhere written by a man calling for Pitt to “dial that shit back” because he was making other men want to slap him.

Men flocked to see the perfectly computer-enhanced Gerard Butler meet his heroic defeat at the hands of the Persians in 300 and didn’t feel the need to take up arms on the internet demanding that all that photoshopping of Butler’s abs be removed because (boo-effing-hoo!) it was setting an unrealistic standard of beauty for men that was affecting the self-esteem of boys.Gerard-Butler-abs

Old Spice hasn’t launched a campaign of masculine beauty, and I’ve yet to see some Instagram photo of a guy with a bloated beer belly go viral because FINALLY we’re getting to see what a real man looks like.

Yeah, you can say that it’s because men aren’t judged on their looks that we don’t see that crap, but I say it is deeper than that, and that if anyone is to blame for this bullshit it’s us women. If we want this competition that we all feel we’re in with other women to stop we’re the ones who need to dial this shit back.

Competition and the Biology of Women’s Survival

Human beings are extremely competitive. As a species we’ve competed against every other organism on the planet, and so far we’re winning. But we’re also in a life and death struggle against each other. While men have been busy competing against other men, wild creatures, and the forces of nature for their survival; women’s competition has had a very narrow focus. Specifically, we compete against other women for what we’ve rightly perceived as our single most valuable resource: MEN.

Throughout history a woman’s ability to get and hold onto a man of substance was (and still by and large is) her best chance for ensuring her survival and the survival of her offspring. One reason women haven’t been as successful in business and politics as men is because women aren’t programmed to compete in the same way men are.

Men are programmed to win; women are programmed to defeat other women.

Women and Other Women

As dependent as we are upon men, we’re as dependent–if not more dependent–upon other women for the survival of ourselves and our children. Women cannot biologically afford to alienate other women while at the same time defeating them which is why we’re so damned sneaky about the competition, pretending it isn’t happening even when it most obviously is.

It’s critical to survival for a woman to win a man who will protect and feed her and her children, but a woman forced to go pee on her own on the Serengeti is less likely to come back alive than the woman who has friends who like her enough to risk going out to pee with her. In this way, biology has forced women to develop subtle and manipulative interpersonal techniques that allow them to simultaneously compete against and defeat other women while at the same time winning them as friends.

Kate Middleton smartly beat out all of the competition and married the most eligible bachelor in her kingdom. Every little girl knows that you can’t do any better than to get the prince to fall in love with you, and she did it. But the skills and craft she used to win Prince William’s heart are the very same things that make other women hate her guts and want to slap her.

These comments about Kate show the dark underbelly of womanity, and how we’re constantly being forced onto that tight-rope of being perfect enough to win the prince, but not too perfect lest the rest of the bitches want to slap us.

Kate Doesn’t Owe You and Me Anything

Had Kate walked out in a house robe and slippers with greasy hair and bags under her eyes maybe some of us would feel better about ourselves, but would Kate have felt good about herself? Should she have sacrificed her own happiness just so the rest of us wouldn’t feel like shit in her shadow? Why do we feel she owes us that? Why are we making her ability to look great about us at all?

This bitter snarkfest shows our underlying feelings that somehow our success depends upon another woman’s failure. This is one reason we women revel in other women’s failures, be they fashion or otherwise. We glory in another woman’s catastrophes because we think it makes us feel better about our own small and meaningless lives. And that’s sick. And we really ought to dial that shit back if we ever want to grow the fuck up.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Iris Sandkuhler May 10, 2015 at 4:25 am

Thank you so much for writing this down and reminding me that I’m a feminist. This is one of my pet peeves akin to the one where your best friend disappears after finding a guy then reappears after things go wrong, i.e. she considers you lower priority to catching & keeping a man.

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Magnolia May 8, 2015 at 2:43 pm

I can honestly say with no fingers crossed behind my back that I no longer look at other women and feel jealousy, insecurity, or resentment.

I just spent the entire day with a woman who is an Ivy league educated physician, has been a prominent face on television ALL OVER THE FUCKING PLACE, and did not feel the least bit diminished in her presence.

Don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad it did. I didn’t feel the least bit intimidated by her at all.

I wish this on every woman.

Magnolia

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Laura B. May 8, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Kudos to you! Mags!!!
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Becky Ann Luschei May 9, 2015 at 6:59 am

Way to go, Magnolia! Good old fashioned maturity caught up with you!

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CM May 6, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Yes! You nailed it. I’ve always been dismayed when I have read or heard women say they hate other women. I’m lucky…almost all of my closest friends are women and I have had some of them since childhood. It’s a blessing. I find my women friends to be my circle of life. Even when I was married for 13 years. My ex never got it, but he confessed he was jealous he didn’t have the same kind of friendships with men. With women, the real-deal-friendship is priceless. I don’t know what it is that makes women hate each other…maybe the more beautiful, the more threatened? In the past, I have let go of women friends who see me, or other women, as a threat. With these women, I’ve had to be super careful around their husbands because I’m single. And I don’t flirt with married men. EVER. My great women friends are not afraid of me being friends with their husbands and I have so much respect for that. And they respect me for the same. We have integrity, love each other, and my friendships with their husbands only confirms the bonds us women friends have. I feel so grateful. Thanks for writing about a sensitive, but very real issue.

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CM May 6, 2015 at 11:49 pm

Oops. I meant to connect my post with Kate Middleton. I hope she has some genuine women friends who support who she is and are friends without “abnormal” jealousy. She looks gorgeous to me – and yes – me and a zillion other women would love to have her beauty and status; nevertheless, at 52, I realize I have it good. (I had my glory days, though my bank account doesn’t show for it!…I’m smarter now and would have done a few things differently -20/20.) At this point in my life, I just need to wake up each morning and be grateful for what I have. I’m a lucky woman who had a beautiful son at 42 (he is a GREAT kid and my friends agree!) This is after trying for years to get pregnant while raising step kids and being married to a man who didn’t really want any more kids. We all have our stories – even beautiful Kate Middleton. I wish her nothing but the best. No more bashing against her please!!

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Becky Ann Luschei May 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Well put, Chloe! I’m a bunch different from the typical woman in that I’ve never felt catty toward anyone! Why? That’s another story but it is simply that I’ve never been focused on the exterior of other people because I see what’s inside. I’ve always been that way. For the most part, all of whom I’ve seen are pretty darned beautiful in there. I’ve only seen four of five ugly folks. But, I have seen some of those comments you cite in your piece, and I had to chuckle to myself because society has made most women ultra focused on exterior features in comparison to themselves. I tried to be a little like that but it just didn’t make sense to me. I felt if everyone looked the same in the same exact physical standards of how boring this world would be! Anyway, once again, I loved the tone you took with writing this piece. I got a good giggle from it!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, Becky Ann. It really means a lot to me that you’ve understood what I’m saying.

Just as I have my strengths, there is always something in someone else that is better, prettier, wiser, whateverer, than me. And it is a joy to bask in another woman’s innate or earned treasures with her, or at least I find it so. When we stop needing others to fail in order to feel like we’ve succeeded then we’ll know what freedom really is.

And you are right that there are very few bad apples in this world. And I really don’t think they spoil the whole batch either. They generally make their own lives miserable, and that really is too bad for them.
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Becky Ann Luschei May 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Well, yes and no on the bad apples only affecting themselves. They do get to others but it is the other’s choice whether to allow themselves to be affected by negative people.

Yes, there will always be someone who seems better than you in your character strengths, with the operative term being “seems.” The deep question there is are they really ‘better than us?’ It boils down to perception which is easily influenced by outside factors; most typically emotion and ego. On the other hand, that perception can work for us in that it sets a bar for us to strive to. Here we have a great illustration of negative versus positive and the choice we make with that regard.

Wow! A “Red Square” moment. Dontcha just love those?

Pull up a bottle o’ wine and a bowl and let’s really discuss this, right? I just love the tone of your writing. It’s very well grounded. Y’all take care, y’here?

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annie May 6, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Once again you’ve nailed it! If the focus of ones life is on the outer package and the expression of that is judgemental snarkiness, that’s pretty sad, shallow, and rather appalling. Of course it’s great to feel and look good, but the wear and tear on the human psyche when one lives in judgement land, either of one’s self or others, must be a joyless existence. I’m pretty sure I looked absolutely wonderful after I had my babies, not because my hair was perfect or I was well rested or had the perfect outfit on. I don’t remember brushing my hair, I was beyond exhausted, and nothing fit. But I’d just given birth and felt utterly beautiful and fully powerful. That’s how Kate looked in the photos. Her body just did something that connects her with every mother throughout human history and THAT is the true beauty.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Hi Annie!! So good to see you.

What is that saying about judging my insides against another person’s outsides? We cannot know anything truly about the Duchess of Cambridge’s life. It certainly looks both enviable and daunting from the outside.

I for one cannot imagine having to get up and go to work a mere few hours after giving birth! And people forget that that’s what she’s doing: working. Being a Duchess is a job for her. It’s one she signed onto, and it’s one that has some perks for sure, but let’s give a sister a break and let her know that we all see that she’s doing a mighty fine job, probably better than most of us could pull off.
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rodalena May 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Spot. Effing. On.

Thanks for this. (I’m re-reading _To Kill a Mockingbird_, and Scout’s observations about the viper’s nest that is the Ladies Missionary Society echo your thoughts. I think this behavior goes waaaay back.)

No wonder some women find the company of men in groups more relaxing than that of women: with men, generally, there is no ugly hidden ulterior motive to compete and destroy one’s companions.

A healthy baby girl was born to two beautiful parents. Can’t we just be happy for them? Why we as a society obsess over if or who did Kate’s hair and makeup is beyond me.

Thanks for a marvelous post.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Thank you for reading. This female behavior is as old as the hills. I’m guessing the minute Eve spit out two daughters it started with which one was the prettier? It’s pointless, not to mention adolescent, to try to make ourselves feel better at another woman’s expense.

I have often joked, but have always been dead serious, that the reason I had so much sex when I was a teenager wasn’t simply because of low self-esteem but because hanging out with boys and having sex was far more fun than hanging out with girls and trying to figure out the bullshit games I hated. With boys you know the rules at the outset, with girls the rules and alliances are always shifting. I can’t keep up with that.

Maybe we can all just call it a draw and do something more valuable with our precious lives now that we don’t live on the Serengeti anymore.
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Laura B. May 6, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Oh, here, here! Chloe – and I completely agree – I knew exactly where I stood, knew the rules, new the game, understood the ropes. Hated hanging out with a gaggle of girls – gave me hives. Sure, I had a couple good, strong girlfriends, but, too many in one space and pack mentality kicked in.

I was with that same group 35 years later, and thought – geeze, NOTHING has changed. Problem is, I had somehow deluded myself into thinking it would be different in the business world. ~smack head on wall~ Nope. Sometimes it still grabs me and spins me around.
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Lauren May 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Thanks so much for articulating my thoughts exactly.
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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Thank you, Lauren.
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Molley@Amotherlife May 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Yes, yes, yes! I honestly felt nothing for or against her. I wouldn’t for one second want to change lives with her. We know absolutely nothing about the before and after of those pictures. This is her job. Smile and wave to the people. Be judged. For all we know she got it that car, said “Get me the fuck home, I need to change my damn maternity pad and my boobs are killing me! Don’t even look at me until I get several hours sleep. Charlotte will be awake again soon to feed and I’m exhausted and starving!”

I wish them nothing but joy and happiness and anyone who is feeling insecure because a Princess looked good after delivery, needs to come back down to reality.
Had she had a complicated birth or caesarian then she would have looked the same but after a week of recuperation first. People need to get lives and stop obsessing over others. *End rant* Didn’t mean to, it just fell out 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Sometimes a rant is just like that, Molley. They have no place to go but out. She looked terrific, but we know nothing about her life otherwise. I hope for her sake that she really did win the marriage competition among her cohort and not only got the future King of England, but got a swell guy who truly loves her and their children, too. That’s the real lottery. Everything else is gravy.
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Laura B. May 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I love this! I was cracking up – MEN don’t get their knickers all bound up because they think they LOOK LIKE the amazing physique wrapped up in Brad Pitt. They don’t see it at all as a one-up-manship – they say, uhh, yup! there I am! Mr. Studly myself!

This topic has been huge lately in my local world. Keep it up, Chloe!

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Chloe Jeffreys May 6, 2015 at 2:15 pm

I agree, Laura. It seems that men look at superheroes and actors like Pitt or Butler and put themselves in their place. Whereas women are more prone to see the more beautiful woman as competition. I think it’s a deep problem that most of us aren’t even aware exists within us. Keep talking about it. Maybe if we name it and claim it we can grow past it.
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Laura B. May 6, 2015 at 5:09 pm

We need to claim it, support each other, quit acting like stupid little play ground brats and grow up. We (women) really gotta learn to stick together. As we fight for equal pay, instead of the .77 of the dollar, we need to do so with arms locked together, NOT how I’ll get .80 and you’ll stay at .77. Oy!

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