Working as a hairapist exposes me to all flavors of females, sprinkled with a variety of woes. Many who plop in my salon chair go on about how the recent turmoil has transformed their life into a CW teen drama. Even though many of those stories include complacent and unfaithful boyfriends, I’ve found the most teary-eyed betrayals share the same evil antagonist: the best friend or close female.
I’m sure there is detailed cave art that alludes to the stories of Cro-Magnon women gossiping about neighboring females. “Grunt, grunt, growl.” (Translation: “woman spread legs with other’s husband.”) Unlike men, women don’t size-up an opponent based on strength. They carefully study personality traits, physical esthetics and, most importantly, insecurities. For some reason, many women seem to thrive on gossiping and belittling other females.
I’m an entertainer. I love making others laugh. It’s something that comes naturally to me. Sometimes it leads me to being the center of attention, especially with men. This often attracts the nearby female sharks. They slowly close in while gathering other sharks. They might make snarky comments. Some who know me might gossip about my life choices, inappropriate ink or Daisy Dukes. After all, no mothers should dress like that.
During my lifetime, there have been many instances where I was tossed overboard and gobbled up like a bloody fish. In middle school, a fellow cheerleader became attracted to my boyfriend. After this discovery, pom-poms came second. New mission: destroy competition. She spread rumors accusing me of talking behind my friends’ backs, cheating on my boyfriend, but the most devastating, promoting a false perception of my so-called “slutty escapades.”
Don’t exclude the older women too. They are just as guilty. In fact, at one time, they were younger sharks fine-tuning their attack strategies. In college, I dated a guy from a wealthy, local family who had a controlling, manipulative mother. She was armed with a potent disapproving smile and chastising comments. She utilized every opportunity she could to make degrading remarks towards my single mother, explain her high expectations for her son’s success, and devalue any accomplishment I had attained over the years. This lady was a pro. Even though I knew she lacked any ability to show kindness, it still made me feel like crap and sparked instances where I doubted my worth.
Even in the past year, I was told my name was mentioned at a barbeque between a group of women who knew me through high school. Obviously these women were experts on my life, traumatic struggles and inadequate coping tools. I regretted not being present at the barbeque. I missed an opportunity to take detailed notes on their superior lifestyles, utopian parenting and perfect relationships! After all, these women were moral experts and completely qualified in dissecting my poor choices in how I handled overcoming devastating events.
Ironically, these women knew absolutely nothing about me. Yet, they talked about me like I was some estranged disapproving sibling. I’m sure they were surprised when a friend of mine chimed up and said, “You don’t know anything about Shawna. She’s a badass!” Of course this story was passed from another mouth, so who knows how accurate the dialogue was, but in the back of my mind, I kept yelling, “Hells yeah! Thanks for the back-up, girl.” Sometimes it only takes one voice to quiet the riot.
Over the years, I’m still practicing embracing my individuality and value. There is one thing I have discovered, however: The best defense is no offense. You don’t need to defend your choices to anyone. No person has the right to judge your journey or lessons. If someone isn’t interested in growing as a human, you should pity them, because they will morph into the most boring, stagnant individual. Treasure the women in your life who are supportive. In the meantime, if you’re at a barbeque, I advise stealing all the good meat and keeping an extra set of metal mesh gloves in your vehicle. You know, in the event of any snapping sharks.