Her hair is always shiny. It’s long, but not too long, and never has split ends. It’s that dark, warm chestnut color that seems to be infinitely deep, with the halos of light that reflect off of it every few inches. It seems to move in one solid sheet, rippling and flowing and always falling perfectly over her shoulder. She smiles when she looks up at you, taking a small handful of that hair and flipping it to the side. It’s put together, but never fussy.
She has a good job, and you’re never quite sure what it is, but you know that it’s important. It’s for something like a non-profit, or a think tank, or something she refers to as a “firm.” (And you aren’t even sure what a “firm” really means.) She works long hours, and does her job, but she never seems too tired. When she takes the train to work, and back home again, she has her leather ballet flats on — but when she gets to the office, she puts on her heels. She wears pencil skirts and cardigans in bright colors and actually needs the ‘professional’ wear at J.Crew and Banana Republic that you want but would never have real use for.
On nights out, she is sexy, but never aggressive about it. She wears the kind of little black dresses that make your miniskirt or low-cut blouse feel at once too much and not enough. When she sits down, she smoothes that dress underneath her and crosses her legs, letting one heel balance off the tip of her foot. She leans forward and runs a finger around the rim of her wine glass, laughing, her collar bones lifting up the delicate straps of her dress. When she dances, it’s fun and charming but never vulgar. Men love her, and they’ve never said it in front of you, but you know that they have thought it: “She is the kind of girl I could marry.”
She probably has one of those good C names — Camille, Claire, Chloe — and when she writes it, it’s in this elegant cursive that never feels stuffy. And you wish that you could hate her, that you could channel every bit of your insecurity and imperfection into disliking her. You want to call her “beige” and “neutral” and “the safe choice,” and imagine that men prefer her because she is boring and reminds them of their mother. But she is kind, and warm, and treats everyone with respect and sincerity. You can’t hate her, because she is wonderful, and as much as you don’t want to admit that any one woman could be all the things she is, there she is.
But sometimes, when she is sipping her iced coffee or adjusting her elegant stud earrings or telling you about some very adult, put-together problem (can’t find the right shade of sofa cover, messed up Excel sheets at work), you wonder why you are so jealous of her in the first place. Is it because she has it all so frustratingly together? It can’t be. She has to be human somewhere, she has to cry and fail and mess up her eyeliner and eat a whole sleeve of Oreos while watching House Hunters from time to time.
Maybe it’s because she is the woman you were always taught to be, the one who has everything you should be having, but never to excess. Her sexy is a delicate collar bone or a long, smooth back, and never grinding to Jason Derulo with a vodka cran in her hand. Her work is long hours in a rewarding office with competent colleagues, not slogging it out in another internship with the hope of obtaining a cubicle. Her love is going to the museum on Sundays and always calling each other back, not waiting for a text message from the guy with the tattoo you met at the dive bar. And her having it reminds you that it’s possible, and that it’s simply you who can’t have it.
And all the things you do have — your sense of humor, your tenacity, your warmth — are nothing in the face of her shiny-haired womanhood. Even when you share some of her qualities, without the whole package, you’re unable to see it. She will always be the yardstick against which you measure yourself, and always come up short on. And sometimes you wonder what life would have been like if you hadn’t been given such a clear picture of “what a woman should be.” Would you still be so jealous of her? Would her crisp white shirts seem as much an indictment of your sloppiness? Or would you just be happy to be you, double vodka cranberry and all?