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The truth about mean girls

by Tiffany Lafleur November 20, 2012

Ladies, this has probably happened to you many, many times. Just when you start feeling happy with your hair, body or complexion, some other chick comes along and knocks you off the wobbly little pedestal.

Women are a strange species. We are a fickle and critical bunch, finding faults on every inch of our skin. We are easily threatened by other members of the same sex—sometimes going to great lengths to criticize them and uncover their faults.

In various scientific studies it has been found that while men are more likely to punch another male in the face in a moment of anger, women use the more subtle art of manipulation, preferring to attack one’s reputation through gossip rather than physical harm. This method of aggression is linked to evolution, and is not just a mean trait that women have picked up. Evolutionary psychologist Jesse Bering, columnist for Scientific American, wrote that this competitiveness is a natural psychological occurrence that usually flares up between the ages of 11 and 17.

Bering goes on to say that “in the ancestral past, it may very well be that teenage girls and young women who weren’t particularly catty were disadvantaged in evolutionary terms, similar to men who were physically weak.”

Another theory, dubbed as ‘parental investment theory’ and developed in the late ‘70s by Robert Trivers, argues that since mothers are the ones who invests the most in the survival of her child, women have evolved to be much more subtle about their mating strategies. Although males are very straightforward with their acts of sexual prowess through acts of strength or aggression, females compete for the attention of the male by cutting each other down and sizing up the competition through social means.

This causes women to be in intense competition with each other, all for their goals of getting the guy. Through this sex-fueled drive, women will size each other up and compete by attacking their rival’s reputation. To sabotage a rival’s image as a viable reproductive partner, females will comment on her looks, weight, height, or promiscuity, all in the goal of undermining the challenger’s reputation. Although this does not mean that women in general dislike each other, it does however indicate that women harbor negative feelings towards other women, especially if the other woman is successful.

By finding fault in rival women, females can boost their own self-image in tearing apart someone else’s. They do this to reduce the threat of their competition and increase their own attractiveness and appeal. Many women are motivated to pinpoint the differences between one another in hopes of feeling better about themselves.

As described in Competition Between Women, Rhawn Joseph explains that “in order to gain favor and attention, many women try to maintain an optimal level of attractiveness, and believe that they stand to lose their share of the stakes when a woman more attractive is present.”

So there you have it. It’s not that all women hate each other, it’s that we are all competitive and — to some extent — see all other women as rivals.

Some say it’s a part of our biology that we can’t control, and it ties into the society we grew up in. So ladies, next time another girl is glowering at you, you should be flattered. It means, to some degree, that you are being envied.

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