In 1939, an iconic comic book series called <em>Archie Comics</em> was created. If you’ve never heard of it, the comic was about a character named Archie who went to a high school in Riverdale. The main plot line was about a red-headed male protagonist, Archie, who was caught in a love triangle between two girls named Betty and Veronica. Betty was a kind and generous blond, and Veronica was a clever and sassy brunette. Both were gorgeous, but opposites in both personality and appearance. The comic was extremely popular for many years and entertained many generations of readers. <em>Archie</em> <em>Comics</em> is a wonderful example of an entertainment industry cliché: women competing with one another for the attention of a man.</p>
You might be thinking that Archie Comics is outdated, but even now, in 2015, they are still producing new comics. It should be outdated — it really should be — but it’s not. Archie Comics is all about Betty and Veronica competing for Archie’s affection, which is problematic for obvious reasons. But the theme of women competing with one another goes well beyond Archie.
Recently, Taylor Swift exemplified women competing with each other in her music video for her song “Bad Blood.” In May 2015, the video came out and featured her battling with Selena Gomez, reportedly as an artistic metaphor for Swift’s real-life feud with Katy Perry. The video, as of printing, is sitting at 541,451,255 views, which is an obscenely large number. And then, of course, the movie Mean Girls is all about women trying to be better than each other. It came out in 2004 and still exerts influence for women of Generation Z and every sub-generation of women viewers since.
The theme of women competing with each other for any reason is extremely harmful for impressionable girls. It engrains the idea that you need to be better than your friends. Happiness does not come from believing you need to be the most beautiful, popular, or intelligent woman; if you live your life this way, you will be very lonely.
Trying to be prettier than your friends will lead you to forgetting how beautiful they are. You’ll ignore how wonderful they look when they get ready for a night out because you’ll be worried about whether or not you look better. Trying to be smarter than your friends could lead to you undermining how well they are doing in their classes. If you only ask them what they got on the last midterm because you want to know if you did better, you’ll forget to congratulate them on their triumphs. If you compete with your friends over the attention of that cute Laurier guy, you’ll forget to be happy for her when she ends up dating him.
You need to remember that while your lives might be closely intertwined now, while you’re both at the same university you’re different people with very different and separate lives ahead — so competition is pointless and detrimental to what could truly be amazing friendships.
When I started writing this, I thought that I was going to point the finger at the entertainment industry and other media, blaming them for popularizing competition among women. But the truth is that those who create content are just trying to make money by selling what people want. We are the ones who endorse these messages by watching movies like Mean Girls and music videos like “Bad Blood” without really thinking about their negative impact.
Women need to stop thinking they are in competition with other women. You do not need to be better. Everybody is different, so it is ludicrous to try and compare yourself to your girlfriends. Archie took 60 years to decide between Betty and Veronica because they were both amazing and neither was better than the other. But the story shouldn’t have been about Archie. The story should have been about how Betty and Veronica both looked at him one day and laughed in his face for not knowing what he wanted. They both should have moved on until one day they met someone who loved them for what made them unique. You can do better than Betty and Veronica.
So now, I challenge you with this: the next time a friend of yours does something remarkable, tell her. Then look at yourself and embrace everything that is unique about you. When you see another woman, instead of looking at what makes her better than you, look at what makes her unique.