Is comparison the thief of joy?

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”– Theodore Roosevelt

When Corinne, from Everyday Gyann, encouraged readers to write a blog post that agreed or disagreed with this quote, I knew immediately which side I was on.

Not that there are any sides, mind you, since you can also take a “middle path” approach.

However, given I’m an all or nothing type woman, I believe comparison robs us of joy.

Before writing this post, I thought about which personal example I could use to back up my argument.

And the example that immediately came to mind was fashion magazines.

Yep. Fashion magazines.

When I was younger, I was addicted to magazines like Vogue, Elle, and Marie Clare.

These were the fashion bibles I consulted whenever I needed to know what to wear, how to look, and what to buy.

Like a starving castaway who’s stumbled upon a bunch of bananas, I gorged on the information these magazines provided; believing I was more beautiful, savvy, and trendy for following their recommendations.

Yet fashion magazines didn’t just rule my life, they ruled the lives of all my friends as well.

Every afternoon, we would get together to discuss the latest trends and styles.

Coffee cup in hand, we would pass judgement and snicker at anyone who passed in front of us wearing what we deemed to be out of style.

I would come home after these sessions to make lists of what I needed to wear, what make up I had to use, and even what I needed to eat, to look just like the models in the magazines.

The comparisons started off small.

“I could never pull off that look.”
“If only I had her ass.”
“If only I was that thin.”
“If only I had her hair.”

Before I knew it, I was convinced I could never measure up to the women featured on the glossy pages.

My self esteem plummeted.

My self confidence abandoned me and before long, I was suffering from a mild case of depression.

However, this didn’t stop me from browsing through the pages of Glamour, searching for ways to make my waist smaller, my hair shinier, or my lips fuller.

My friends felt the same sense of inadequacy at not being able to measure up to the long-legged models who resembled Barbie.

One afternoon, nana saw me lying listless on my bed; crying because I didn’t have a particular model’s long blonde hair.

“Bella, what’s wrong?”

“Nana, I’m not beautiful and that makes me sad.”

“Who told you that you’re not beautiful?”

“No one. I just know.”

Just then, nana spotted a magazine peeking out from under my bed.

“Have you been comparing yourself to the women in these magazines?”

“I’ll never be as beautiful as them.”

“You silly girl. You do yourself a disservice when you compare yourself to others. You are who you are for a reason. There is no else like you. You are unique. Enough said. Now go get cleaned up.”

As soon as I got up from the bed, nana picked up the pile of magazines and deposited them in the trash.

It was the last time I looked at a fashion magazine while nana was alive.

Fast forward I don’t know how many years and fashion magazines still have the same effect on me.

The minute I start looking at the leggy models with the perfect hair, I revert to making comparisons and before long, the joy has been sucked out of my day.

The other day I came across an online article that stated,  “A 1995 study found that three minutes spent looking at models in a fashion magazine caused 70% of women to feel depressed, guilty, and ashamed.

Could these feelings be attributed to women comparing themselves to the air brushed models that grace the covers of these magazines but have been Photoshopped to within an inch of their lives?

I believe the answer is yes.

In comparing ourselves to women whose appearance has been modified by software, we are setting ourselves up to feel inadequate; frustrated by our inability to resemble such perfection.

I think it’s time we stop comparing ourselves to others and start appreciating our own beauty, talent, and uniqueness.

In the words of nana, “there’s no one like you,” and that alone should make us feel extraordinary.

Do you find comparison robs you of joy?

Today I’m linking up to the Comparison Blog Hop on Dangerous Linda and Everyday Gyaan.

112 thoughts on “Is comparison the thief of joy?

    1. Heather, thank you! I wish I did my own graphics! I actually borrowed these from Corinne. You can see them on her blog if you click on her link. :)

  1. I am with your Nana. I would have like to have met her. I think all women live through this period and hopefully they have a Nana or a mom, like mine, that sets us straight early. I remember doing the same thing in my twenties and remember whining about it to my mom. She about smacked me. She said similar to what your Nana said. I’ve never looked back. I am what I am. Comparing our precious self to another is not possible. There is no way to compare to people and dong so is only inviting unnecessary pain. Honest and thoughtful, Bella. Thanks much for sharing with us. Your words speak too all of us that have traveled this road at one time or another.

    1. Brenda, your words are like a splash of warm sun on this otherwise freezing day. Thank you, sister. I’m so happy you like the post! And I’m happy that your mom set you straight early in life. I wholeheartedly agree–where would we be without these role models? You’re spot on in saying comparison only invites pain. I couldn’t agree more! You are beautiful just the way you are! :)

  2. I loved this post Bella, and I agree with Nana. Everyone is unique, and everyone has his own beauty, but that doesn’t mean that i never compared myself to others. I still do even though in a different way.
    I never looked at fashion magazine or compared myself physically to others. I sometimes “wished” i had a beautiful voice like my youngest sister or could dance like my other sister, but not to the point i get depressed.
    What makes me sad is when i compare the “love” i had in my life to what others have, and i have spent all these years trying to understand what made me so “unlovable”.
    I always dream of having a friend who can love me just as much as others love each others.

    1. Nikki, you are not alone in thinking this. I felt this same way after my divorce. I truly wondered what about me had been deemed “unlovable” by my first husband. Thankfully, after some time I can to realize that I wasn’t the one that was unlovable, he was simply incapable of appreciating someone like me. And that was his loss! I belive you have many friends who embrace, accept and love you just the way you are! Sometimes we feel that this isn’t the case, but it’s only because we might be feeling unlovable when we come to these conclusions. In the meantime, chin up, friend! I for one love having you drop in and your comments always make me either smile or think! :)

    2. thank you so much Bella for your sweet kind words. I really love to read your posts, and all your replies to others too :)
      Have a great week end!!

    3. Nikki, you’re very welcome! I’m very happy you like my posts. Thanks for making my day! Have a great weekend! :)

  3. I agree with you, Bella; comparison does rob me of joy. I have schooled myself to not make comparisons between myself and others, and most of of the time I’m pretty good at it. Sometimes, though, it slices through and can take me down in a millisecond.

    1. Ellen, life does have its little ups and downs, doesn’t it? I find myself suffering from your same affliction. There are days when I’m on top of the world and other days when I feel like road kill. hee hee! I’m glad that most of the time I’m able to laugh off my insecurities and get back on the horse, sort to speak! :)

    1. Jodi, the Next Top Model show has to be the most ridiculous show on television! Well, next to the Bachelor crappy ones, that is! I believe it’s shows like these that continue to fuel women’s insecurities and drive young girls down the path of eating disorders. When will they end? I say, if you’re going to have a show like that, then include all walks of life. Diversity, people! :)

  4. Hi, Bella! ~

    I swore off fashion mags for many years when my kids were at impressionable ages because I didn’t want to set an example for them of superficial values.

    A few years ago, after my kids were all grown up, a friend I admire mentioned a fashion trend she saw in a magazine. I was shocked to learn that she would look at such a thing! When I thought it over, I realized maybe I was being superficial with my ‘all or nothing’ and ‘holier than thou’ approach to reading materials.

    Now, I’ve settled on kind of a middle ground. I love perusing a Vogue Italia once in a while. Personally, it cheers me up rather than depressing me. I enjoy looking at all the eye candy! And it reminds me how physically beautiful I am, and that’s O.K. God created butterflies, too, and they didn’t have to be that pretty!

    Thank you for joining the Comparison Blog Hop! I enjoyed reading your perspective!

    1. Linda, hello and welcome! Thank you for having me on the blog hop! I have a confession–I love Vogue Italia! But then they’re famous for that spread of beautiful curvy women that made the headlines! I think the European versions of some magazines always promote more diversity. I’m sorry, but I feel this is the truth. As you know, Spain is the first countries to prohibit models from participating in shows if their BMI is below a certain amount. As of late, I’ve adopted a rule–if I glanced through a magazine and find myself comparing myself to the women featured, I put it down and do something else. I like that you’ve adopted a middle ground perspective! :)

  5. Comparison is bad, unless it inspires you to create something, which is rare; mostly it’s just bad.

    If the one you compare yourself to is in some way better than you, you feel bad because you’re not as good in that particular thing (say, you can’t sing as well).

    If the one you compare yourself to is in, say, worse conditions than you are (think homeless person, for example), how is that supposed to make you feel good about yourself? You’re not homeless, yay, yippee! No reason for joy there.

    So, comparing yourself to others is a lose-lose situation, unless it inspires you to do something good: not the “I’m going to starve myself almost to death so i look like a Photoshopped plastic girl” ‘inspiration’, but, say, “I’ll start walking and doing 2 or 3 push-ups every day, let’s see how far it gets me”, or, “Hey, this is a great idea for a funny blog post!” or something. But that is rare, compariosn usually just makes us depressed.

    By the way, speaking of models, have you seen Andrej Pejic? He’s a model who wears both male and female clothes (his youthful, androgynous face allows him to do that), Google some of his pics if you have no idea what he looks like. Anyway, while many dresses look really good on him, wtf is the message there, if you’ll pardon my language? That a woman looks best with no breasts and no female hips? And speaking of comparison again,are we supposed to be eternally unhappy because we don’t look like cute young men?

    1. Ivana, I like how you label comparison as a lose/lose situation. I’m sure that’s the case for many people. Both of the situations you mention most definitely result in negative feelings. I’ve never heard of Andrej Pejic. I will surely Google his photos. Frankly, I’ve become so accustomed to accepting haute couture models as hyper thin that I don’t bat an eyelash when I see them strutting down the catwalk. I’m glad I don’t have to compare the size of my hips to these models or I’d surely be depressed! :)

  6. Well, Bella, comparing yourself physically to others doesn’t seem too productive, but it seems to me that comparing your work to others’ work (in your chosen field) seems helpful–not just to know your strengths and weaknesses, but to improve yourself.

    1. Jann, I can understand why some people would find that comparing their work to others’ is productive. However, I’ve never found this to be helpful. I believe everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and as such, it defeats the purpose to compare how one writer writes versus how I write, for example. If I define my niche to be humor, it might seem productive to compare myself to other “funny” writers but it might be that they use different strategies. Some might use dialogue, personal scenarios, or a play on words, but the truth is that everyone is different. In copying or emulating someone else’s style, I would lose sight of my own and where would that leave my unique talent? :)

    1. Shary, she was! How I miss nana! I find that if I have to make any comparisons, I find it better to compare myself to earlier versions of myself. It’s during these times that I’m reminded of strengths, perseverance, or optimism I may have had but am now lacking. I think that’s one of the ways I might say “yay” to comparisons! :)

  7. I’m sooo glad your Nana was there to set you straight! I did the same thing when I was a teenager. Then it was the girls in TEEN and SEVENTEEN magazine. I wish my mom had thrown them out but she was always dieting and exercising too.

    I don’t do that at all anymore, not sure when I got wise :-) I do compare other things though, like couples who I think have the happy marriage I wish I had had, or the nice house or taking nice vacations etc…

    1. Michael Ann, I remember Teen and Seventeen! They were the “go to” guides for my sister and I when we were growing up! And I’m afraid they may have been in the pile nana threw out! hee hee! I’m glad you got wise, lady! Good for you! I believe occasionally comparing what one has to what others have is normal. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t do that at least once in our lives! :)

  8. -Bella,

    I. Completely. Agree.

    Society & the Media tell us that we should look like the women in these magazines…. that we must be thin…..that we must be beautiful….

    It’s a farce. It’s a lie. It’s unhealthy.

    But people beleive it. This is the reason we have buliamia, anorexia, and eating disorders.

    We need to teach our little girs that ~~~~THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH~~~~ just as they are…

    Or nothing will change.

    I don’t see this happening. Just look at Toddlers & Tiarras. What a Horrible Disgrace.

    Great piece, sweets. I love your Nana sooo Much. Xx

    1. Kim, love, I’m so glad you agree! You’re so right–there is a strong correlation between body image and eating disorders. The media have a strong influence in socializing us to believe that we have to look and act a certain way. Frankly, I’m sick of marching along, content with the society’s constraints! Like you mention, we have to educate our girls that we are beautiful no matter what our age, size, or shape. And this is not just a curvy revolution! This is a “You’re beautiful just the way you are” revolution. Because that’s another thing–as curvy women, we want others to embrace our chunky selves without judging and criticism us but then we have to also respect a skinny woman’s choice to be skinny. If I’m okay with being fat and expect others to be okay with it, then I too have to be okay with a thin woman choosing to be thin. Don’t you think? Roxy and I are working on a blog post just for you, by the way! Stay tuned! I’m delighted you liked the post! And Kim, nana would have loved you! :)

  9. I think comparison absolutely robs us of joy, but having grown up in a culture where I was constantly compared with others, find it difficult to ignore voices of comparison. This usually has to do with my weight. I am a big person, my father was a big person, and often feel I live in a land of little people (although there are larger people also of course, but I just accept them!) It’s only myself I’m so critical with, and yes, this is a joy robber. Things do improve somewhat with age, but those little voices are always ready to snicker!

    1. Elizabeth, I find that there are some experiences that seem to stay with us forever–both bad and good. You’re so right when you say that growing up in the kind of culture that fosters comparisons leads us down that very road. The process of socialization does that and all we can do is abstain from falling prey to it. This also means making the effort to not be self-critical, which as you know, is easier said than done! All we can do is remind ourselves that we are who we are and there’s a reason for that. Oh, and ignore the little voices that snicker! :)

    1. Kim, would you believe this is one of my favorite movies in the world? My sister bought it for me when it first came out and believe it or not, I laughed my ass off with the mother’s character and the setting because it is so spot on with what a Latina mother and home are like! OMG, I’m chuckling just remembering the scene when they take off their clothes! ha! Thanks so much for sharing the clip with us! And I’m totally checking out that blog post of yours! :)

  10. I still do compare myself to others but because of mental illness , not magazines..I have always wanted to be “normal”what ever that means…I still yearn to be accepted for who I am..for someone to look inside and see I am no different then them…As always…XOXOXOXO

    1. Hello Bongo!I believe your sentiment is shared by many of us. I think we all hope to be accepted unconditionally by those we care about; without judgement. Sadly, however, I’m afraid we won’t be able to have this from everyone who touches our lives. If we’re lucky, though, we can find a few people who will oblige and these will be the individuals who form our net of support; who we can rely on to sustain us during times when the going gets rough. I’m delighted you stopped by! XOXOXO :)

  11. Tell it like it is Bella – you tell it girl! Amen and amen! They’re ALL air-brushed. As if the models’ thighs aren’t slim enough, the photographer has to Photoshop and make them look even MORE emaciated! Like refugees.

    I wish I could’ve known your Nana. Every time I read about her I feel jealous that she wasn’t MY Nana. Just so you understand, I never knew my grandparents; they all died before I was born. But Nana was perfect for you. No wonder you are confident and brilliant today. All that love…

    My magazine was Cosmo. Always made a bee-line to the stand to grab the latest issue so I could pore over the articles on how to snag a man’s heart, how to look sexier, how to cheat right, and so on…

    We’ve come a long way baby!

    1. Debra, sweetheart, thank you for your support! And ain’t that the truth, that these sisters are all phony? Puuleaasse! No one has poreless skin! No one! You had me chuckling hard at your comment of the emaciated thighs! bwhahaha! I seriously don’t understand why an already thin woman would have to be further retouched. Really? Ridiculous if you ask me. As a result, we’re left with models that looks like plastic mannequins. Even the beautiful Adele has been photographed three sizes smaller on her cover of Vogue. Yes, she did lose a little weight after her throat troubles but the cinched Barbie waist on the March 2012 Vogue cover? I don’t think so. I mean, we saw her curvy beautiful self on the Grammy’s and she didn’t look like the plastic version Vogue wants to feed us. My question is, why would you have to Photoshop a woman as gorgeous as that? It’s crazy, I tell you! Your comment about nana and how I turned out made me weepy. Thank you, sister! I do believe growing up with nana helped form my character and made me strong. She was the perfect role model who taught me the importance of accepting myself unconditionally. Cosmo? Really? Baby, we have come a long way! Hallelujah! hee hee! :)

  12. Bella, for me it wasn’t so much the fashion magazines. It used to be the comparison of grades between sisters, cousins and friends. I hated that, but didn’t know enough that that wasn’t how things were supposed to be. Later on, it was the comparison of popularity amongst friends and boys. Had to laugh at that, because the behaviour was so … juvenile. Then it was the comparison of jobs. Good grief.

    Comparing does steal joy. So thankfully, I’ve stopped. Mercy on the self!

    1. Claudine, mercy on the self, indeed! I think at the stages you mention, it’s the norm for us to compare. Growing up I know I did it all the time and with the exact demographic you mention. Thankfully, having children changed me. I got sick of other mothers boasting how their child crawled, or took a step, or burped. One day I thought, no more. No more comparing since it’s toxic. I’ve never looked back. :)

  13. Bella.. comparison exists even in the yoga world… yes very much. One just needs to see the kind of clothing that exists! Your Nanna was an admirable and smart woman…

    1. Savira, even in yoga? I thought people in this demographic would rise above that! Interesting. The clothing defintely has to do with it! hee hee! You’re so right about nana! :)

  14. I stopped comparing myself in school itself…I was way too thin…and whatever I did, I just couldn’t put on weight…and so I could not dress like others too as some clothes did not suit me at all.

    1. Hello Janaki! Can I make a confession? Growing up, there was many a time when I would have traded places with you! Being thin is something I aspired all the time when I was a teen. Not that I was heavy, mind you, but I did long to be think and willowy like the models in the fashion magazines. I also thought thin girls could wear anything! :)

  15. Bella, I’m so glad you did this. You’re always so good at starting discussions, and I love seeing where the dialogue takes us. Well, even at this age in my life, I find I compare myself to others from time to time. The question is, how to get out of the urge to do it? How do you put it to rest? That’s what I’d love to know.

    1. Monica, I love, love the discussions that take place on this wee blog! They make me think, chuckle and sigh. I find that putting up some sort of mental sign, like say, a stop sign, whenever the urge to compare comes on, helps stop me from doing just that. I’ll be walking and suddenly I’ll see a leggy blond with a gorgeous tiny Maltese and I’ll look down at what I’m wearing and “STOP” sign! Bam! Just like that, the comparison is halted! :)

  16. Bella – Of course I have thoughts on your post…it is so thought provoking. I think body image is an area that many women need to work on and I am certainly one of them. Just today I was looking at old pictures of myself and I find I looked positively skinny there but I always thought I was overweight. Oh how our minds can fool us and how vulnerable we are to comparing our bodies with others. I’ve never been in to fashion magazines but I think my issues came from within and were reinforced by some ‘gentle’ messages from my mom. As the years went on my body caught up with my mind!! Now I’m claiming both back…….
    I can see what media and peer pressure is doing to many youngsters these days – so much time, money and effort on looking ‘good’ when all they have to do is be themselves because they’re already beautiful.
    Thank you for adding so much to the Blog Hop, sweetie. ♥

    1. Corinne, I was looking forward to your thoughts on my post. I admit I was a little anxious writing this post and I was looking forward to your approval. Thank you! I’m relieved you thought it though provoking. I really wanted to write in my usual style but with the degree of formality this subject of conversation demands. I know what you mean about looking at old photos and thinking, I was thin then! Ironically, it’s like you say, we thought we were heavy then! I’d give an arm and a leg to look how I did when I was 17, a time when I wished I was stick thin. That never happened because coming from Latina stock, a big butt and curvy hips were the “catch of the day”! hee hee! Peer pressure and the media have detrimental effects on our youngsters. Young people want to follow an ideal that is unrealistic and this in turn leads to eating disorders and mental illness. If only we could all accept ourselves the way we are! Thank you for having me on the blog hop, friend! :)

  17. What a wise woman your ‘nana’ was. Yes we do loose ourselves in magazines by comparing. We can never measure up to what a computer has done for these women. Unfortunately, our society places so much importance on women being beautiful and sexy, that our young generation faces this at a greater depth than we ever imagined. Instead, they should be encouraging our young women to accept themselves for who they are and focus on their strengths. This was a great post! Thanks for joining in. First time to your site, I believe ☺

    1. Hello Mary! And thank you for enhancing this post with your comment! I believe we have to encourage young girls to place value on their intelligence, compassion, level of kindness, rather than just on their physicality. However, like you mention, this is quite the difficult feat considering the media’s influence. I grew up thinking models were real and that I was flawed. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way in realizing that what we see, isn’t really what we see. I’m delighted you liked the post and I believe you’ve visited before but it’s been a while. Welcome back! :)

  18. Hi Bella. :-) Beauty and fashion magazines, as well as America’s Next Top Model, were my favorite guilty pleasures. But I stopped because I always felt bad about myself the moment I start flipping through the magazine’s pages or see a skinny lady wear a dress I know won’t look good on me. It’s really liberating once I stopped comparing myself to those models and just focus on my self.

    “there’s no one like you” — I like these words that your Nana said. I’ll keep them by heart whenever I feel insecurity creeping in. Take care and God bless! :-)

    1. Irene, hello and welcome! I’m sorry to read that you too have been a victim of feeling poorly after browsing through these magazines. I’ve never watched America’s Next Top Model and for that, I’m glad. I felt the same way you did when I started comparing myself to the women wearing certain clothes. It left me feeling quite discontent with my body, my looks, my hair, everything. Fortunately, we have reminders like nana’s teachings that serve as a mantra to keep us focused on what really matters. Many blessings to you as well! :)

    1. Blue, Thanks so much for including me! I’ll be honest and say I’m running a slow ship with the computer sharing situation. Nevertheless, I’m honred you included me in your list! :)

  19. So correct! Comparisons are such a wrong thing. I have seen people having miserable days just because they started comparing themselves to someone else.

    But can it be avoided? I don’t think so. We’ll just have to live on with it. I guess everyone just needs somebody else to tell them how amazing they themselves are.

    Great post! :)

    1. Sanchari, if only we were all lucky to have someone tells us we’re special! I think that until that happens, we’re perfectly suited to remind ourselves how beautiful we are! It’s not about being narcissistic, but instead, valuing our talents and many attributes. I’m so happy you like the post! And sadly, I quite agree with you–we’re bound to find ourselves in circumstances when we’re tempted to compare ourselves to others. I guess that means we’re going to have to develop stronger will power! hee hee! :)

  20. Bella, your Nana was so very wise! She had such a good head on her shoulders. We’re taught that we’re all equal, but it’s obvious to us (from a very young age) that we’re not. Some are thinnner, some are richer, some are more popular. It is what it is. We can only be the very best “we” possible and grow to appreciate our uniqueness. No two snowflakes are identical; no identical twins are identical. Therefore, we aren’t just like anybody else in the whole world — how cool is that?!

    1. Debbie, I think that really cool! I love, love the uniqueness we’re born with. Nana was in a league of her own, friend. Have I mentioned I loved her more than both my parents combined? I did. I did! I love your encouragement of being the best we can possibly be. I believe we can do this by trying to reach our full potential and striving for excellence. In the meantime, not being like anyone else is enough for me! :)

  21. Comparison and ‘Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader’, belong in the same category. There’s no way to win. If you know the right answers, or feel as good as ______, then you are only smarter than a fifth grader or a panty model or whatever else you filled the blank with. And if you aren’t, whoa! Hand me the prozac.

    1. bwhahahaha! Oh, Renee! Pass the Prozac my way as well! When that show first aired, I tuned in. I stopped watching as soon as I realized I was NOT as smart as a fifth grader! Now that’s a reminder I don’t need! hee hee! :)

  22. oh dear, your Nana was fabulously wise and love to read your anecdotes about her wisdom!
    But the magazines are not the one and evil responsible for our lack of self esteem!, we live under a terrible pressure!
    And I think we could just see a fashion magazine as a fantastic publication: I’ve read some fantasy literature, but I don’t take it to my Real Life, and I don’t lose my self confidence by not being an elf or a powerful witch!, so I don’t lose my self confidence by not being a photoshoped model, because any of these creatures are Really Existing Creatures!!
    besos & enjoying fantasy

    1. Mrs. Allnut, you’re back! I’m so happy to see your comment! I realize that we’re under a lot of pressure but truly belive that the media adds to that pressure by “enhancing” these models’ looks. We can have good self esteem and self confidence but these can be undermined if we’re told we have to look a certain way to be beautiful. Fortunately, I’m at a point in my life where physicality has taken a back seat to what I consider more important facets of life, but I will confess to feeling some of these older insecurities rise to the surface when I browse through these magazines. I will, however, remember your words and convince myself that they are indeed just fantasy! Besos and enjoying fantasy! :)

  23. I wholeheartedly agree. Comparison is my worst enemy. I am always doing it, and not just when I look at fashion magazines. I do it at the grocery store, restaurants, work. I think, “Ooh, that’s a great outfit. Too bad I could never wear it,” or, “I wonder if I’m fatter or skinnier than her.” It’s a sickness. And while I’m relatively happy with myself, there are always moments when I wish I could be thinner, taller, have thicker hair, have more fashionable clothes, make more money, have more time to spend with friends, etc., etc., etc. Comparison doesn’t do me any good, that’s for sure.

    1. Oh Laura, it’s a curse, I tell you. And you’re right–comparison does carry over to our regular lives. Last night I was telling the Significant Other that I believe the reason we feel like we’re upstaged at times is because we allow ego to get in the way. Perhaps if this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t be upset for not looking a certain way? What do you think? In the meantime, lets continue to go to the place that reminds us we’re happy with ourselves! :)

  24. Nana was a very intelligent and caring person. I am glad that you had her in your life. When I was in my teens and having babies, the one that bothered me, I got severely jealous as a matter of fact were the girls of Charlies Angels. I look at it now and you know I think” What in the world was I worried about.” I was so not like them I guess, I was not trendy, skinny or on their kind of adventure. I am so glad I finally found my self confidence and love me as I am. I am glad that you have too!

    1. Hello Daisy! Yes, Farrah Fawcett did nothing to improve our self esteem! hee hee! I think it’s human nature to want to be more adventurous, especially as we get older. I don’t know about you, but like I wrote in a previous blog post, oftentimes we reach a certain age and are left to wonder if life is passing us by. We wonder if we’ve lived enough, gone on enough adventures, looked as good as we should have, and so forth. Nevertheless, I’m grateful we’ve reached that stage where we’re more embracing of ourselves! :)

  25. Bella, Your Nana was a very wise and sweet lady. We torture ourselves by comparing ourselves with others. Accepting our strengths and weaknesses and working on becoming better and stronger beings is the way to go.Great post, Bella.

    1. Sulekha, you are a wise woman as well. I’m with you one hundred percent–lets stop the torture and work more toward becoming stronger human beings! In doing so, we’ll be able to fight the insecurities that plague us on a day-to-day basis. Thank you for the reminder! :)

  26. Do you guys really buy those fashion magazines?, I’ve never bought one in my life. The only times I have contact with the magazines are when I am in a doctor’s waiting room. The models are too skinny for my liking, so I never felt bad comparing them to myself.

    1. Luchi, hello and welcome! Nowadays, I rarely buy fashion magazines, however, when I visit Spain in the summer, I do buy the foreign Vogue and Elle. I’m so glad you’ve never compared yourself to the emaciated models. You’ve saved yourself a lot of grief. Good for you! :)

    1. Adriene, hello and welcome! I totally agree with you. Society pressures us to look a certain way and as time passes, its demands keep growing and we keep trying to meet its expectations. Fashion magazines are guilty of promoting stereotypes of beauty and we’re silly to buy into the whole shebang. I think you’re right–we should stop buying them. Maybe then we could take back our power! :)

  27. Hi Bella,

    There are few women I know that don’t feel this same visceral angst. It’s the natural byproduct of being held up against an unrealistic ideal. Photoshop, indeed. It’s better when you get older because you have the tools to dissemble the message and messenger. I feel bad for younger women because as a teen it was, and is, unbearable. Hence, the escalating rate of eating disorders amongst women today and the billion dollar beauty industry as women struggle to keep up and define themselves against a fake ideal SMH. Three cheers for consumerism.

    I, often, feel this same angst when it comes to my writing. I have to snatch myself back from the edge of the trap in order to empower myself but that stems more from insecurity than anything else. For instance, I’m still peeved that I’ve never been Freshly Pressed. The bottom line is we can not allow others to define us or our measure of success.

    So, yes, I agree with you, Teddy and your Nana :). Great post! The message bears repeating.

    1. Coco, I am honored that you agree, sister. I understand what you’re saying and I agree. Like you mention, it’s even harder for younger women because at times they lack the experience to say, enough. Older women are also targeted for wrinkle products, special collagen creams, and so forth, but I want to think we’ve already traveled down the road where looks come second to other things in life. Insecurities, I’m afraid, can rise to the surface for other things other than our looks. In regard to being “fresh pressed,” hang in there. Your writing’s phenomenal and is sure to be noticed sooner or later! :)

  28. When I was growing up, I thought I had the biggest feet of anyone I knew. My mother, bless her heart, said something like, if your feet were smaller, you’d probably topple over. They’re just right for you. Whether or not that was true, I believed her and never let the size of my feet bother me again. I love her for that.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful when our loved ones make our world a happier place to be in simply with their words? Your mom sounds like a very special lady. I want to have more people like her in my life! :)

  29. Crap, sometimes I really hate going from one keyboard to another. (Different computers I mean, don’t know how but I hit enter and I didn’t mean to!)

    I LOVE your blog! Maybe with less posting I can visit more often! :) That would be a great thing. I think.

  30. I love your Nana! And I love this post, as always!

    I’ve had a lot of conversations with my stepdaughter about this very subject. I always tell her not to compare her insides to someone else’s outsides — recently I ran across a very similar quote from Julia Cameron, too.

    I got to the point where I stopped watching Oprah’s makeover shows, because I always felt inadequate afterwards, and that’s just silly. If I want to go to the grocery store in my sweats, who cares? I don’t need to be dressed to the nines to go buy milk.

    Seems to me that if we love ourselves and radiate that joy and confidence, no one’s going to notice if we’re carrying a few extra pounds or have other imperfections. Happiness is the best style we can have!

    1. Nadine, you too are a sage, friend! I love how you say, “…not to compare her insides to someone else’s outsides.” Brilliant! If we had to go to the supermarket dressed to the nines, I’m afraid this little family of mine would starve. Give me sweats or give me death! hee hee! As for Oprah, if I had her money, I’d be giving myself makeovers every day, in the form of full body massages, aromatherapy, and spa treatments–making over my inner beauty, if you will! Seriously, though, you’ve so hit the bull’s eye when you say, “If we love ourselves and radiate confidence, no one’s going to notice if we’re carrying a few extra pounds or have other imperfections.” Amen, sister. With that sentence you have managed to take this post to brand new heights, lady! I couldn’t have said it better myself! Here’s to happiness! :)

  31. Great advice, my period of indulging in fashion magazines was fairly short, I always felt dissatisfied with the contents, wanting more than just images and advertising, to the point where I could browse in a shop and not find one magazine I wished to read, that was kind of sad when facing a long train journey, I always had a book, but something short and interesting that didn’t make me feel down – difficult.

    I’m amazed that so many people feel this way and yet so many magazines are sold, I guess they never publish THAT survey – the one that lets people know the effect it is having on them – should magazines come with a flash warning – ‘May be harmful to your mental health’!

    I finally did find a magazine I like that doesn’t disappoint called ‘Muze’ about culture, literature, arts, photography (its in French), but the rest, fashion and celebrity – not for me.

    1. Claire, Muze sounds like my kind of magazine! I quite enjoy National Geographic and Psychology Today. Those are my go to magazines when I have to go on long train rides. I too have wondered why people keep buying these type magazines when they have such on effect on women. My guess is because they can be helpful in providing make up tips, health trivia, and interviews. I love your idea of magazines having a warning label! I’m all for it! :)

    1. Now you see why I told you how painful it was when my nana passed away? I miss her every day. Do you too have a little Roxy? I’d love to see photos! :)

  32. Hello.
    I agree 100% with your nana. Do you think all these so-called leggy blondes & models are happy? NO! They’re too busy trying to stay thin so they can compete with the next blonde, leggy model who’s trying to compete with the next & so on & so forth…see the vicious cycle? Even though we were all created equal, we are all different. Why would you want to be like everyone else? Without all the makeup & people to dress them, models & all these people in fashion magazines are as plain as day! Just think…you are unique…unless you’re an identical twin, no one else has your DNA makeup…doesn’t that make you feel SPECIAL (smile). Stay away from those magazines & embrace YOU.
    I enjoyed your post.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Andy, hello and welcome! I love it when men make their way to my blog! I think it’s wonderful to hear the opposite gender’s perspective. I think you’re spot on with the comparison of models competing with each other as a vicious cycle. Sadly, it’s the human condition to set off these cycles and before you know it, we’re trapped and either unwilling or uncertain of how to break them. Indeed, why would we want to be like everyone else? I think people who do are following the sheep mentality. At times, people fear breaking the norm and being different. It’s safer to be just like everybody else. I’m all for marching to the sound of our own drums. I will take your advice and embrace me! I feel better already. Thank you for adding to the mix! :)

  33. I can so identify with this Bella. I used to be depressed and wished I were like those models. But today I look at them and appreciate them but say to myself that being voluptuous and curvaceous is also beautiful.

    1. Rimly, amen to that, sister! To think curvy and voluptuous women were worshipped once upon a time. Artists like Reuben took “full-figured” to exciting and empowering levels. Then Twiggy made an appearance and chunky women around the globe were devastated. hee hee! I’m glad we’re striving to change that and empower young women to embrace being healthy and fit, not emaciated and dangerously ill. I’m glad you embraced your curvy self, lady! :)

  34. I watched my sister’s obsession with beauty magazines nearly destroy her life. She was constantly ‘on a diet’. And the clothes she bought for herself were always a size too small to give her ‘incentive’. She was a tall, leggy redhead, just slightly on the softly-rounded side. She was beautiful, and sweet and talented. But never happy with herself. She had no self-esteem and went through several marriages. I love my sister. I will NEVER look at a beauty magazine. Ever.

    1. Diane, your sister sounds a lot like my mother and sister–they too buy smallish clothes to motivate them into losing weight. And fail every time. As a result, they end up donating brand new clothes or leave it to stuff their closets till they’re bursting–such a shame, such a waste, in my humble opinion. I think this has to do with our non conformity of accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally. We have to work on that first before we can aspire to have healthy self esteem. Kudos to you for not falling prey to fashion magazines! Good for you, lady! :)

  35. I can’t actually remember a time when I was thin enough to suit my mother. Thankfully it’s been about 9 years since she finally stopped laying into me on that subject whenever the mood struck her. There was a perfect size, a perfect number of pounds, a perfect look, that I never was, and it was embarrassing to her (yes, she informed me of that as well) to have an overweight daughter. THAT (the image in her head) was perfect, ME (her daughter) – not so much. How grateful I would have been to have a Nana like yours to right that soul-sucking, joy-sucking point of view. Sadly, though I have never confirmed this to be true, I think my grandmother may have been a large part of the problem. :-(

    1. LW, I’m so sorry that you grew up listening to such negativity. Hopefully, this hasn’t had long term effects and you can go forward knowing you are beautiful just the way you are! Everyone is special, the shot, the tall, the thin, the fat. We are unique. And whether it’s our sense of humor, our wit, intelligence, or attitude, we leave our mark. It’s a shame your mother and granny couldn’t appreciate you. I truly hope you can see this as their loss. It has nothing to do with your formidable self, sister! :)

  36. Oh yeah, I’m guilty of that, too. Now, it’s fashion blogs I follow and sometimes I can’t help but think if the outfit I’m wearing is as chic or fashionable as this blog’s or that blog’s but then I realize “this is my style. I’m free to express myself by wearing what I want.” Of course, I can’t help but compare, at times, how tall they are and how short I am {I’m just a good 4 inches and 9 feet tall-hehe} or how their hair is so perfectly straight without a strand out of place and mine’s just going haywire, so to speak. Still I know God created me fearfully and wonderfully! That’s a truth I ponder on when I’m tempted to compare! hehehe:)

    1. Yen, that’s the spirit, lady! Unfortunately, we are never going to be short of reasons to compare ourselves to others. Unless, of course, we do what you suggest and that’s to remind ourselves that we are wonderful; in our own unique way, we are a work of art! I visit many fashion blogs and would you believe I never compare myself to these ladies? Perhaps it’s because I see in them a more believable way of dressing and being than in magazines. These ladies inspire me to wear what I want and be who I am, just like you! :)

  37. Btw, I super love this post of yours! So real yet you hit an issue that a lot of us women struggle with every day especially when we bump into fashion magazine covers and wonder “how am I gonna look like her?” hahaha!

    1. Jen, I am delighted you think this! I’m so happy to be able to write about an issue that does affect most of us and create awareness that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can see the media as responsible for trying to trick us into believing these models are real when the reality is they’ve been enhanced. You remember that the next time you ask yourself, “How am I gonna look like her?” :)

  38. your Nana was a very wise woman… I agree that comparison when use to cause harm to self or others will rob you of joy. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed reading and thank you for sharing some of your experience.

    1. Hello Amy! It’s wonderful to see how you’ve taken a middle path approach! Some people are for it, others against it, and some, like you, can see it has pros and cons. For me, it’s always been quite destructive. Hence, I’m against it but I realize everyone’s experience is different. I’m happy you liked the post. Thanks for dropping by! :)

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