Have you ever felt a pang of anger or a twinge of jealousy on hearing about the achievements of a girl in your social circle, or about an acquaintance’s happy married life and a beautiful family?
It is not difficult to hate someone who seems to have it all! It starts with Mean Girls-esque episodes in school, “Who wore it best” contests in college, and becomes a part of our psyche, especially in an Indian setup where everything is compared to the bajuwale Sharmaji!
Why do we overburden ourselves with all the competitive pressure when it’s already tough to succeed in this patriarchal setup? The answer to this girl-on-girl hate is “SHINE THEORY”, a concept coined by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Shine Theory is described as “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.” The idea is that a woman should support and celebrate the successes of other women instead of trying to tear them down.
“I don’t shine if you don’t shine” is a lesson to be learnt as early as possible in life. 90% of the crowd see other people’s success as cause for insecurity, not celebration. Amidst this, approaching and befriending woman who are smart and powerful according to you, is the way to go, because true confidence is infectious and the real smart people understand the importance of association.
People know you by the company you keep and success breeds success; everybody prefers friends that are professionally supportive, not competitive for contacts. Nobody likes girls that make others feel bad about themselves, but those who show you love, online and offline, from a place of support and mutual admiration.
There are many inspiring instances where its endearing and inspiring to see selfless girl love. Women Olympians are a big example of setting a new paradigm for professional success. They believe in “Competing together, not against each other.” What’s more confident than knowing that another woman’s success does not diminish your own? In times when women see each other as competition, may it be male attention to promotions, the Olympians set a shining example.
In male-dominated careers, women feel intimidated to voice their ideas. Having the support of other women can encourage ideas, and fuel ambitions. Even the gender pay gap issue can be brought to light and women can have equal say in every conversation by the ‘amplification method,’ linked to Shine Theory, employed by the women in the White House during Obama’s tenure. This involves repeating each other’s suggestions to ensure that they were being heard and crediting one another to prevent others claiming the ideas as their own. This forced recognition for women’s ideas, which they found were often being claimed by men as their own.
The #MeToo movement epitomizes the concept of women supporting other women. #MeToo has given women across the world courage to speak up about their experiences of molestations and sexual assaults and harassments. This has garnered collective support and camaraderie.
The Instagram page “IAmLikeOtherGirls” started by Ellie Lee and Tara Anand is to tell girls that there is no shame and regret in saying ‘I am like other girls’, and aims to bring together all women from different walks of life to unite, and proudly celebrate womanhood as a whole community, which poses as a platform for Shine Theory.
Celebrating other women and their success also helps you to do your best and up your game. The Shine Theory is not just for your gang , but also extends to every other woman that is intimidating to you. This isn’t a ‘fake it till you like her’ situation. So – essentially – the next time you feel that pang of jealousy, when another woman bags a promotion, achieves something or does something envy-worthy, take a deep breath, and see it as a win for all women, yourself included! Don’t let a moment of petty self-indulgence ruin the chances of being a part of something bigger. Celebrate her, for the wellbeing of feminism and fate of Shine Theory. Remember to support all girls, because in the words of the queen, Beyonce, “Who run the world? Girls!”