In one of the funniest stories to come out of Hollywood recently, Heidi Klum reportedly sent Victoria “Skeleton” Beckham a dozen of the decadent Sprinkles cupcakes for her birthday. It gets better: The attached note added that a dozen would be coming every Friday for the rest of the year.
I’ll admit it. I totally laughed at this. The irony is as sweet as, well, a cupcake. But the more I thought about it, the more Mean Girls/Vicious PR Stunt it seemed. I love Heidi Klum (I used to be a Project Runway junkie before I gave up TV) but girlfriend seems to fall totally in the “genetically blessed” department. While Posh, for all of her too-skinny foibles, seems to have to work very hard for her (stick) figure. It seems mighty cruel to throw that in her face for 52 weeks straight.
If Heidi were truly concerned about Posh’s health, she wouldn’t have sent her cupcakes. Brown rice and salmon, maybe. Plus breath mints. If she were a true friend, she wouldn’t have done it such a public manner either. And I’m sure it’s no coincidence it comes on the heels of Ms. Beckham’s interview with Barbara Walters in which she declared she would never, ever eat a cookie.
There’s competition. Like when Gym Buddy Allison (MizFit – you are so right – everyone needs an Allison!) and I try and out-sprint or out-lift each other. I usually win the former, she always wins the latter, in case you were curious. Plus she spanked me in basketball today. This kind of competition benefits both parties and usually doesn’t leave any hard feelings.
And then there’s competition. We women can be notoriously catty with each other. For instance, when you tell an embarrassing story about your friend in public to make yourself look smarter. Or when we let a friend go out in a fugly dress because we know we’ll outshine her at the club. This cattiness can be very insidious. This is especially so when we sabotage each other’s efforts to get or stay healthy.
This is a hard line to draw, as often the perpetrator doesn’t even consciously realize why she’s doing what she’s doing. There are a myriad of reasons why we’d want to keep a sister down:
1. Guilt. Watching your friend suddenly lose a lot of weight or run a marathon may make you feel guilty about your excess poundage or couch potato skills. Making snarky comments about how she’s “such an exercise fanatic” or the “diet nazi” make you feel less guilty by demonizing her behavior.
2. Fear of Loss. Maybe now that she’s finally exercising every day you fear that she’ll abandon you for her new fit buddies. Or at least abandon your weekly Dairy Queen run.
3. Fear of Change. You fear that her new chicken-and-veggies meals will mean that you
will have to give up your movie theater popcorn. And you just aren’t ready to give it up, darnnit!
4. Jealousy. This one probably should have been number one but in an effort to trust our better natures I’m sticking it in at fourth. It’s really hard to watch someone get something that you’ve wanted for a long time, and possibly have even worked harder for.
4b. Loss of Identity. This one is closely tied to jealousy, I think. It can be really hard to take if you are used to being The Thin One in your group of friends and then suddenly you’re not. Or if you are The Healthy Eater and your friend goes all macrobiotic on you and usurps your role. (Which, incidentally, is how many eating disorders are born.) Weetabix over at Elastic Waist wrote one of the most poignant and heart breaking examples of this I’ve ever read, demonstrating the ability of women to destroy even their closest relationships in order to maintain the status quo.
5. Annoyance. Discovering healthy living is often like finding religion – the person eats, sleeps and breathes Women’s Health magazine. They evangelize fish oil supplements to anyone who will listen. They demonize chocolate. And too often they have this air of moral superiority throughout it all. Who wouldn’t want to smack that? Or at least slip a bag of M&Ms into their purse?
I Hate to Admit This
In my past life as a waitress, there were few customers more irritating than the woman who would order the prime rib with mashed potatoes & creme brulee but then insist that all the fat be trimmed from her meat, her potatoes be made with the skins on and cooked with no butter in soy milk and the creme brulee be fat free with Splenda caramelized on top. We’d generally do no more than an exaggerated eye roll but if she kept complaining and sending it back to get “fixed”, well then, we’d, um, fix it. Especially if she was a teeny tiny gorgeous model type. It was like we felt it was our duty to fatten her up. And punish her for being more gorgeous, successful and rich than we lowly waitresses.
I can’t believe I’m telling you this (guilty conscience, much?). My fellow wait staff and I would intentionally slip crap into her food. Not literal crap, thank you very much. But we’d pour oil and butter over her veggies. We’d pre-butter her rolls. We’d *gasp* switch out her diet Coke with real Coke. Even the chefs would get in on it by purposely choosing the fattiest cut of meat or ladling on an extra cup of Bernaise sauce.
All of which is not to say that you should fear your waitress every time you go out to eat. We saved this awful behavior for the select few who made royal pains out of themselves. (Seriously – don’t order prime rib if you can’t handle the “marbling.” There is no possible way we can cut out all of the intramuscular fat for you. Order a chicken breast. Or the kabobs. Asking for a few substitutions is fine but don’t try and rewrite the evening special’s entire recipe. ) Wait – did I just try and rationalize that? Egads.
My point is that I’ve been on both sides of this equation. It doesn’t feel good. When will we learn as women that tearing each other down does nothing more than lower the entire playing field?
Are You a Cady or a Catty?
I know you’ve had experience with this. If you’re being honest you’ve probably had experience on both sides of the fence;) Have you ever been sabotaged by a girlfriend? How do you conquer your baser impulses?
Although if you do think your diet Coke tastes like regular, then it probably is. Sometimes we just ran out of diet.