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Living in Comparison

Posted in StoryChick24

I started out thinking I wanted to write about how much I dislike “Chick Lit” and “Chick Flicks”, but as I tried to find the right words to explain my feelings and to not offend people in the process I realized that the discussion I wanted to have was part of a greater issue.

My dislike of reading what is commonly called “Chick Lit” or watching a movie that most would categorize as a “Chick Flick” comes from the perceived judgment from others that would come with an admission that I liked these things. I want to say upfront that I do not want to belittle anyone’s love of these types of entertainment. I enjoy them as much as anyone else, but I don’t do it often. In order to really enjoy these forms of entertainment I have to escape the fear of judgment, mostly from myself.

When I started thinking about what it is that I don’t like about “Chick” entertainment, the first thing that came to mind was that I felt like it targeted the things that make women emotional. I didn’t like the idea that my femininity was being used against me, but there are a lot of problems with looking at things in this way.

First, I am especially guilty of indulging in this kind of entertainment when I am deep into PMS and in need of emotional release. I look to it, because it is cathartic, so it isn’t fair to blame the medium because of how I use it.

Secondly, my argument really only holds weight if you want to see the plot structure as stereotypical and not archetypal. I know that’s a mouthful, but let me explain. Basically, the archetypal is something that is expressed by a story that is limited in its purview but can be understood by many, while the stereotypical relies on cliché to tell a story that is recognizable, but doesn’t transcend the obvious. I can’t claim that there aren’t books and movies out in the world that use stereotypes to their advantage, but I would like to believe that people can see through it. The stories that rely on archetypes ring true and that is why they are popular and lasting. The ones that rely on stereotypes feel icky because they are trying to prey on emotions instead of sympathizing with an experience.

Now that I have talked about my problems, I want to talk about what they led me to realize. I don’t like admitting to liking chick media, because it feels like by doing so I sacrifice the image of myself as a serious academic and intelligent woman. This is ludicrous! I know this, and yet, I cannot let myself just indulge without inhibition. I start to think about what that would portray to the world. I start to compare myself to this image I think that people must have of women who enjoy this kind of media. There is no good that can come from this.

Brené Brown talks about comparison in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. She says, “Comparison is all about conformity and competition… When we compare, we want to see who or what is best out of a specific collection of ‘alike things.’” The “alike things” in this case are women, but to reduce it to such a generic category leaves room for crushing insecurity and doubt because all women are so different and so many things that it doesn’t make sense to try and compare them based on one thing that they enjoy.

I have a lot of thoughts left to explore on this topic, but now that I’m aware of it I am interested to continue to explore the struggles I have to allow myself to enjoy whatever I want and to not put such limiting judgments on myself or others. I want to see myself as a layered being and remember to recognize others as being the same. I want to separate my thoughts of people might think and realize that it doesn’t matter what they think. It’s funny how such a seemingly innocuous feeling can lead to such insight, but I’m very glad it did.

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