I stumbled across this article ‘She Ain’t All That’: How My Own Insecurities Made Me Unable to Compliment Other Women on Madam Noire and I thought the article could very well have been written for and about Nigerian women. The truth in it was powerful, and it made me remember an incident that took place a week or so ago. I was having dinner with a friend, and we bumped into one of her colleagues. The colleague sat at our table and we got talking. I had noticed her as soon as she had walked into the restaurant because she had a fantastic figure. The kind of figure a lot of women dream of – voluptuous, but firm in the right areas (No Homo by the way). While we chatted, I told her that she had an incredible figure, and she seemed a bit surprised. I worried that she thought I was making a pass at her, so I hurriedly explained that I’m trying to up my work-out regime, and had hoped she wouldn’t mind sharing a few tips. Later she admitted that she has been a bit shocked because she rarely got compliments from other women.
This incident and reading the article had me thinking: Why is it that some (not all) Nigerian women find it hard to compliment each other?
Female rivalry has existed since the beginning of time…in different species and races, but I sometimes think that the rivalry can be quite vicious when it comes to Nigerian women.
Although I made a conscious effort to stop doing it a while back, I will admit that every now and then I will mentally tear down another woman who I perceive to be a threat to make me feel better about myself.
It’s a nasty habit I know, but for a brief second, convincing myself that this other woman ‘is really not all that’ gives me some sort of mental victory –albeit false.
A few years back I could probably count how many compliments I paid to other women in a year – yup I was that insecure. Putting other women down was a great way to distract me from my insecurities, but soon and without fail these insecurities would come creeping back. Insecurities about not being career wise, not being pretty enough etc. It soon became something I couldn’t help; I was doing it all the time…even to my friends. A friend would get a nice hairstyle and the best compliment you could get out of me was ‘It’s alright’. Soon references about me being a ‘bad belle’ person seemed to be quite frequent, and I realised quite soon that I was unhappy with this need I had to tear other women down in order to boost my own confidence. I had to change my attitude because in all honesty, every woman knows that there will always be another woman who is prettier, sexier, more intelligent, more successful…and basically has what you perceive to be a better life than you. Will tearing them down make them any less pretty, less sexy, less intelligent, less successful? Absolutely not! Will tearing them down change things for you? It could give you that false confidence boost that momentarily masks your insecurities, however in the long run you’ll just end up ignoring a nasty deteriorating disease. I learnt that any insecurities I had, needed to be worked on and eradicated by me, anything else was only a temporary distraction.
Something written towards the end of the article really grabbed my attention – Giving props where they are due never takes away shine from you, it only ever adds to your glow…
Expecting that female rivalry will cease to exist is extremely unrealistic, but hoping that the ‘competition’ continues less acrimoniously is definitely possible. In Nigeria where women are already at a distinct disadvantage (just because society says so) should mean we really should do more to be our sister’s keeper. I’m not suggesting that we all like each other and be fake, but we can be a bit more respectful to each other. Being a woman in a man’s world is already tough, but being torn apart by someone that’s probably facing the same challenges you are can make a harsh situation even more so.
I must stress, that I’m not saying every single Nigerian woman suffers from insecurities that causes us to tear each other down, but let’s face it a lot of us do. I recognised the ugly trait in myself, and pray that I can beat it and be a better person in the process.
So ladies next time you see another woman and your hackles begin to rise slightly because you perceive her as a threat…take a moment out…give her props and know that you are wonderfully and uniquely you – something that only you can be!
ToolzO is an award-winning on-air personality who currently presents ‘The Midday Show with Toolz’ on the Beat 99.9FM and the Juice for NdaniTV. You can find out more about Toolz by visiting www.ToolzO.net