Katherine Pellegrino ’23
Social Media Manager
We’ve all been there before: that kick-in-the-gut feeling you get scrolling through social media. The immediate reaction is to put your head down when walking through campus to avoid making any will-breaking comparisons. As you grow up, thoughts like “What makes me special? How am I any better than the girl sitting next to me?” begin to fill your brain. You’re oversaturated with the mindset that there are people out there who are prettier than you, smarter than you, thinner than you, more popular than you, and so on. And that pep-talk from your mom just isn’t cutting it anymore. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. The idea of toxic comparison plagues our entire generation. It’s a thief of joy that is always lurking. As social media grows so does this toxicity. We don’t just look at famous people online anymore wishing we had their lives. It hits even closer to home these days.
We all compare ourselves to the people right next to us. The lifter in the gym with the smaller waist, the brunette in your Econ class who knows the answer to every question, or the girl who seems to grab every guys’ attention as she walks through the door. We continuously find a constant reminder of what we don’t have in every person that crosses our path. “She gets better grades than me, everyone likes him, her style is so much better than mine…” It’s a never-ending cycle. Our brains convince us that the movie ideal of the “It Girl” isn’t just a made-up slogan but something, someone, whom each of us knows.
The tendency to slip into this behavior is oftentimes undeniable. Alfred Alder said, “to be human is to have inferiority feelings.” Our society can’t help it – it is what makes us human. These comparisons can absolutely deteriorate our self-esteem and self-confidence, making it nearly impossible to accept ourselves and feel proud of who we are made to be.
When we consider the self-discrepancy theory, it appears that we are all locked in a limbo of many self-representations: who we are, who we would like to be, and how we believe we should be in the society we live in. Sleeplessness, low energy, bad eating habits, sorrow, jealousy, and low self-worth are all symptoms of these feelings. It prevents you from fully exploring yourself and enjoying who you want to become. When your eyes are continually on the person next to you, you can’t work on the person in the mirror.
The good news is, as this epidemic rises so too does its counterpart: the vaccine. The “Body Positive Movement” has gained traction throughout social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Celebrities like model Ashley Graham and TikToker Remi Bader have begun to carve a path through the poison fog of comparison, carrying their followers through it with them. Bader, who joined TikTok in 2020 after losing her job, quickly developed an empire based on honesty, authenticity, and self-love. She has become a notable voice for size inclusiveness in the fashion business, thanks to her realistic hauls on TikTok, where she delivers straight-up, no-bullshit critiques on brands, particularly plus-size clothing items.
Even if you can’t control having these thoughts, you can control how they impact you and your life. Recognizing these thought patterns that you have and counteracting them with different thoughts and mantras will allow you to change your mindset. Listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, or following influencers that support the ideas of loving yourself and appreciating uniqueness, like Remi Bader, are all options that can assist you in that change. Social media itself is turning a new leaf on the way it’s choosing to influence those who use it.
Leaving this toxicity that we have grown up on won’t come overnight, unfortunately. Our human inability to stop comparing most likely won’t ever go away, but it’s the path we choose to walk on that will eventually lead us in the right direction. Do you choose to continue to carve out a way through the smoke, or stand there until it costumes you entirely? Don’t let comparison consume you. Be content with who you are, and where you are going. We all deserve to be our own “It Girl,” and when we believe that about ourselves, those around us will too.