Catty competition: Is it natural
By Julie Garcia
May 2, 2006 | The desire to be attractive, to be better
in general, and to belong -- these are not a foreign
notions to grasp for most people. Almost everybody will
experience some form of competitive behavior in their
lifetime. It's a natural part of life. But, is the competition
for women to be prettier, more popular, and more successful
taking a toll on ladies in society as a whole?
There have been a number of books, articles, and even
movies made about the topic as a whole. Obviously, the
sassy, competitive, manipulative role that women have
taken in society is raising some eyebrows.
"I think a lot of the competition with girls continues
throughout adulthood. It's not something that goes away.
Women may hide it better than teenage girls, but the
bitchy behavior from other females continues throughout
adulthood," said Penny Brown, a mother who has raised
two girls through adolescence.
Brown said that when she put her two daughters in
dance lessons when they were younger, she noticed competitive
mothers who would act like they and their daughters
"Girls don't only learn this catty behavior from others
their own age. A lot of their behavior is learned from
their own mothers," Brown said.
Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. It's a book designed for parents to help
their daughters survive cliques, boyfriends, gossip,
and other troubles faced during adolescence. The movie
Mean Girls is based off of it.
Wiseman noted in an interview about her book that
girls take messages from the media and the culture on
how they are supposed to act and carry themselves and
make them into rules. She said girls are the enforcers
of these rules on a daily basis. A lot of girls put
up a front to mask their insecurities Wiseman said.
Wiseman said, "I think a lot of times girls feel really
alone." That doesn't stop them from forming cliques
and creating hierarchies amongst themselves. In fact,
it just might encourage it.
Nicole Lucero, a student majoring in family consumer
human development with a minor in sociology said girls
are taught to be competitive from the womb. She said
in one of her women and gender classes, it was brought
to her attention that women are so busy competing with
each other they are not advancing in the professional
"In the movie Mean Girls, the main girl says
something like, 'this is girl world and in girl world
all of the fights have to be sneaky.' It's so true,"
Lucero said. "Guys don't usually pick up on what we
do, but other girls recognize it. This is because our
fighting isn't to your face and vocal. It's in other
Those other ways might include backstabbing and lying
to get ahead or prove oneself. People might ask themselves,
"What on earth are all of these women competing for?"
Nobody can really specifically define the reasons
why girls compete and quarrel the way they do. One might
suppose each individual woman has her reasons. Some
think the vanity push in the media is one of the main
factors to blame.
"I think in the morning that when girls get dressed,
they don't get dressed for boys. They get dressed for
each other," Lucero said. Lucero said it's like a fashion
show everyday. They're competing with each other on
so many levels -- whether it is with clothing, jewelry,
boys, or make-up, she said. She said it's silly, but
it's part of the American culture.
Society tells people what they have to have in order
to be cool or accepted, Wiseman said.
"The more you think having that stuff is connected
to who you are, the more you're going to sacrifice who
you are in the process," Wiseman said.
Ally Law, a senior at Jordan High School said that
girls need to stop being so selfish. "They're all about
themselves. They don't understand there's a life outside
of their make-up kits. The world is an amazing place.
If girls don't learn to realize it, there's going to
be a definite decline in female education and professional
abilities and an uproar in vanity," Law said.
Whether the competitive, manipulative behavior women
display is caused by social status, the media, or too
much vanity, Wiseman said the most important thing is
for females to understand what their culture is telling
them. She said they need to understand the messages
they're receiving on what the rules are for being a
girl so that society doesn't take advantage of them.
If girls relax and stop trying so hard to be what
society encourages them to be they will be happier
people. They should focus on taking positive risks for
themselves and not try so hard to make decisions based
upon what others think.