I watched a fairy tale unfold this weekend. It was a plot written in Hollywood. The son of a beloved Princess in a far away land wed a commoner… one of our commoners. He defied tradition in the name of love. It was breathtaking. They were resplendent. He in his military finery, her in a classic white dress made of a fabric specially milled for the occasion… a 16 foot train hand embroidered with the flowers of her new land. The looks as they gazed at one another spoke of a pure love. This ancient kingdom pulled out all the stops for a perfect day for their Prince and his new Bride… and it was perfect from the pealing bells to the warm sun to the roses in full bloom. The whole world was a little in love.
Then the comments started in my social media feed… from women.
…Her dress is so plain
…Her hair is messy
…Why isn’t she wearing any makeup
…I liked Kate’s dress better
…Her bouquet is so tiny
…Her train was crooked
…Why isn’t she wearing any jewelry
…I was so disappointed, she doesn’t look anything like a Princess
The comments were nearly endless, almost as if they couldn’t help themselves. As if all of this was arranged for their personal enjoyment. What is that need to criticize? Why couldn’t we, down to the very last woman just be happy for her? As I watched it unfold across the internet, questions raced through my mind. Is it purely a negative bias? Are some people natural drawn to what is “wrong”? Is it sick perfectionism that causes them to criticize? Is it more than that? Is it a primal need to tear apart another woman? Is it rooted in some sort of jealousy? Are some of us just naturally mean and catty? Is it a little of both?
To a degree, we all frame our own reality. We choose our attitude and we choose our perspective. That perspective is formed by what we elect to focus on. We can retrain our brain to focus on what is right and beautiful over what is wrong and flawed. I work on this with coaching clients often. It is nearly impossible to achieve lasting success because something is always “wrong” or could go wrong. It is also nearly impossible to live a happy life in that mental state.
I will call the comments what they were… mean girl. This mean girl spirit in adults breeds it in children. It is a LEARNED behavior. Children are not born mean. My mind turned from that thought to bullying. We have a serious problem with bullying and cyber bullying in this nation. The argument can be made that it plays a role in our school violence. Some children are relentlessly teased on-line. I will submit that ALL children deal with it. We talk about stopping it but if we as adults can’t set the example of kindness… how can we ever expect our children to do so? What did we, as a collective gender, teach our daughters on Saturday? Did we teach them that it is ok to be mean on social media? Did we teach them to be unkind, critical and hurtful? Did we teach them how to steal another woman’s happiness?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Why do we have to be so mean?