Recently, I came across a video from a popular YouTuber and vegan named Freelee the Banana Girl. She’s ripped, positive, and has that mega-watt smile which seems to be requisite for a YouTube star.
Unfortunately, I didn’t come across the post for any of the aforementioned reasons; I came across it because fellow YouTuber and comedian Jenna Marbles — or more aptly, Jenna’s fall from the “grace” of veganism and gradual weight gain — was the focus of the video.
It’s the Banana Girl’s most popular clip of all time and yet by the time the last few seconds were ticking off, I’d lost all respect for her.
People are innately competitive creatures; competition can breed animosity, this we know to be true. So now I’m begging the question, why is it that women are allowing it to reach a nuclear level? Blasting a “before” picture of Jenna Marbles at a time that she later shared she subsisted primarily on almonds to an “after” picture of her jokingly stuffing a cupcake into her face was not only entirely unnecessary but cruel and harsh.
When rising stars like Iggy Azalea and Ariana Grande meet a level of popularity even remotely comparable to Nicki Minaj, our first instinct is to pit them against each other. We buy into fictional stories of petty behaviors in cheap tabloids when in reality, they’re quite probably happy to have like-minded professionals in their midst.
80s cult classics Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink are prime examples of situations in which women were so mean to one another that you wanted to reach through the TV screen and strangle them. But these classics aren’t our modern reality. It’s no longer cool to be petty. It’s no indication of superiority or status. It’s just like the neon pink 12 lb. prom dresses of majestic times past: trashy and counterproductive.
Here’s the idea as well as the incentive: being hateful isn’t hot. It indicates insecurity and unhappiness. You don’t need to read yet another Cosmo article on “What Men Really Want” to know that what’s most attractive is a woman who can walk into a room and brighten it with her confidence alone.
Females are powerful creatures but the issue seems to be that we undermine that power by allowing the darkest depths of our personalities to rear their heads. In 2010, 35% of adults reported being bullied at work; this at a time that it has never been so important for women to be successful. And our gender largely invented the practice of cyberbullying. We’ve spearheaded implicitly egregious acts like social alienation and indirect harassment. Sadly, because our socialization process is based almost entirely on the build-up of relationships, our abuse is more cerebral and, in turn, more damaging.
Now this is not to say that I don’t have the propensity to exhibit my own fierceness. I’m a territorial person, it’s a curse. But it’s an entirely different behavior to defend one’s loved ones from naysayers than to be a naysayer (even in return to someone else’s original bashing).
Consider our current wrecking ball-riding punching bag, Miley Cyrus.
Agreed, she’s ridiculous. She’s crass. She’s scandalous (which I think is fantastic).
She’s also beautiful, and has a rocking body and serious talent. The fourth ‘Wrecking Ball’ parody I came across on Twitter (which featured a hedgehog and was utterly delicious) inspired within me more amusement than embarrassment.
I may not have made some of the same decisions she has were I in her position. I’m also not a multi-millionaire at age 21, so who’s the real winner here? Still, though, people delight in trashing her at every moment they can.
Dr. Gail Gross, a human behavior and psychology expert, said it best:
… not only are the weak targeted but often a girl that is considered to be too pretty, too smart, too nice and therefore making the other girls feel inferior. In fact, bullies may describe a target as “too full of herself.”
This is a call to end the cattiness that is already becoming a thing of the past. The female population is beginning to realize that there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ll have support from other women that you respect, no matter what. No matter how many ridiculous antics you get into (or do not get into at all) you’re most successful when you feel good about yourself.
There are a million minute things we can do to make this all right. Who better to assuage your concerns that you came on too strong after last night’s fifth jello-and-god-knows-what-else shot than your girls?
Or to tell you to tone your ass down, with love. Whatever is needed.
There will also be nights that all you’ll want to do is stay in, eat s’mores ice cream sandwiches and make awful sangria. And that’s okay too.
That is so wonderfully okay.
Stop being ashamed, and stop shaming. Not every night will be your most dignified. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll regret actions that you take. People are going to say god-awful things about you. Because people suck. But that negativity does little more than to increase your tolerance and to allow you to develop a skin thicker than steel. (I know firsthand. And I can quite honestly say that I’m better for it.)
Because Mean Girls said it best: “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.”
Remember that next time you sense a rush of schadenfreude, whether on line or in real life, especially when it’s one woman against another.