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Breaking Down The Shine Theory: Why You Should Surround Yourself With Women Who Intimidate You

Any woman who has ever vied for a spot in a selective internship or been caught wearing the same outfit as someone else is all too familiar with female competition.

It's pervasive in our society, in which gender quotas are obligatory, dating shows like “Millionaire Matchmaker” essentially pit girls against each other and doormen are selective in their female clientele.

At some point or another, we've all experienced some form of girl-on-girl rivalry. When a front-row woman gets spotlighted in gym class, we can't help but also notice her flawless physique and then mentally compare how we measure up.

Our socioeconomic landscape only allows for X amount of women at the top, which only makes other women our primary competition. It's a war – but what we have to realize is, at the heart of it, it's a war against ourselves.

When we trash other women whom we perceive to be “better” than we are, we're really just pointing out what we think we lack within ourselves.

Remarking that so-and-so needs a boyfriend, for example, is reflective of our own relationship issues. We create a mental ranking system and then we trash those ladies whom we falsely believe “place higher” than we do.

It's tearing down your opponent and it's a deleterious way of coping, especially when those women would be much better suited as our friends.

Ann Friedman, editor at NYMag's The Cut, champions this idea of befriending the girl who intimidates you most because it doesn't make you look worse by comparison — it actually makes you look better. Fittingly called “The Shine Theory,” Friedman's rationale is simple: “I don't shine, if you don't shine.”

When we encounter other women who appear happier, more attractive and more successful than we are, our instinct is to hate on them for it.

And in a world where there seems to be a finite amount of space for women, one more female who has it just so together means there's less room for us.

But instead of throwing rocks at a distance, Friedman proposes we approach and befriend this powerful female. It makes sense.

First, there's the “associative property of awesomeness,” meaning that people know you by the company you keep.

When I'm dating a guy, I always want to introduce him to my friends because they are smart, interesting and serve to make me look better. Not to mention having successful lady bosses as pals helps boost your own résumé when job connections count.

And let's not forget, with all the bodyshaming and relationship pressures and female gripes, it's nice to have strong, supportive women who can impart the best knowledge.

When men make me feel like sh*t or I need to negotiate the terms of my lease, or my outfit is just a tad overboard, I want the ladies who can advise from a good-hearted place, who want for me what I want for myself — not the ones who will compete with me or trash me once I'm gone.

From my own personal friendships, I can tell you that genuine, confident women make the best pals. Their energy is infectious. Their positive spirits make you shine brighter.

Think about your worst female relationships. They were the ones that put us down, were totally fake and because of that made us feel insecure.

We started to feel second-best because for so long there was someone reinforcing that we were. What's a girl to do then?

Comparing yourself to a man is just different, less direct. Using sexism or gender, we can rationalize why they earn the success we don't.

Being female comes with a whole slew of characteristics and nuances that we then use as categories of achievements. And it's not us who is the benchmark for perfection; it's the girl next to us.

I've been on both sides of the spectrum — the shadow and the shiner — but what we have to realize is that this ranking system only exists if we believe it's real.

I am much more in favor of being my best self all the time and empowering the women around me to do the same. One girl is only better than the other because she tells herself so.

It's hard to come around the idea of befriending someone who makes us feel so threatened. But she only appears this way because you put her on this pedestal.

When we start believing we are on the same so-called “level” that these almighty females are on, it becomes easier to be their friends, and it also challenges us to be better versions of ourselves. That is the person you were born to be, and soon enough, these levels disintegrate because they no longer matter to you.

Find how you shine best and radiate on.

Top Photo Courtesy: Fanpop

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Laura Argintar

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