I had a very close-knit group of friends in middle school and throughout most of high school. We went everywhere and did everything together, if we could help it. We were popular and got a lot of attention. We felt more than important and no one could tell us otherwise. Time went by, and as everyone started sprouting into their own person and reaping the benefits of puberty, things changed. There was no more of the genuine innocence that covered our friendships, but new-found tension and jealousy, and it got worse every day it seemed.
Black women, from my experience, compete, compare and undermine one another so much that it seems like that’s just how we interact with each other. These days, it’s women who relax their hair versus women who are natural. They begin comparing themselves to other women on social media, and that leads to trying to conform to what the media says is the “ more attractive” look.
Have you ever walked down the street and passed a black woman giving you the stink eye and you don’t even know her? Have you ever had someone dislike you for no reason at all? Yeah, I think that’s happened to every black girl at least once in our lives. But why?
Most people would say that it’s just how black women are; we have that permanent RBF and we can constantly come off as those “unfriendly black hotties” as Mean Girls references.
But is it something deeper than that?
Society and black culture have put black women up against each other for years, as far back as I can remember actually. In relationships, black women can establish a sense of competition if their partner is unfaithful, makes them jealous, or just flat out leaves for someone “better”. You feel inadequate and that you have something to prove, so you walk around thinking that you have to be better than every black woman that you come across.
We constantly hear things like, “I like women with big butts, big breasts, long hair” etc. Sometimes you can find yourself trying to conform to those standards of what certain black men want, and it becomes a race to be the “best of the bunch”. I exhausted myself for years trying to be everyone around me, but me. I didn’t think I was good enough if I didn’t wear the best clothes, have really long hair, be it relaxed or natural. It’s crazy to think of how other women can go from being your friend to a foe because of issues with comparison and constant competition.
Luckily, it seems as though we’re turning into a different direction where black women, comparison and competition are concerned. We have people like Beyoncé, Issa Rae and Taraji P. Henson acknowledging that other black women are talented without any other catty message behind it. It’s becoming a lot easier to navigate without feeling “guarded” or not good enough amongst a group of black women, in real life or on any social media platform.
Though there still are, and will probably always be, the black women that can’t seem to realize their own magic, but there are more and more examples every day about what it means to cherish the black women around you versus trying to be in competition with them.