A couple weeks ago I went to a charity dinner. It raised money for an awesome nonprofit that supports children in foster care. It was a beautiful evening full of truly touching stories. Part of the evening included a fashion show featuring sorority girls from my alma mater as models. They gave up an evening of their time to put themselves out there (while walking in a fashion show sounds exciting, I’m sure it’s also terrifying). Each young lady was introduced with her name, major field of study, and post graduation career goal. While I was never in a sorority, I was very proud these girls came from my school and had such impressive ambitions. Some wanted to go into civil service, the law, education, and even fashion design.
As I was enjoying the evening I couldn’t help but overhear some women, young and not so young, giggling. Always interested in a good joke or a bit of gossip, I perked up my ears. Turns out this group was mocking the models. If it wasn’t for the outfit they had on (not their choice btw) it was for their major or goals. First of all, I could not understand why, at a charity event for children, some chose to put down those who are doing something good. It was so ugly. Second, as I mentioned earlier, these are fellow TCU girls. Don’t come for the Frog Fam in my presence.
So here I was, at a charity event, disgusted at the bad behavior of some around me. I didn’t know what to do. Should I call them out on it? Give them dirty looks? Start whispering nasty things about them to my friends? Tweet about it? Ignore them? None of those options seemed quite right. Thinking about why they would behave that way, I realized they are probably just jealous and insecure. They see someone who is younger (or your age), beautiful, intelligent, and on a great life path and the green monster rears its ugly head. Whether we like to admit it, we’ve all been on both sides of the equation. Either way, it sucks.
In that moment, I decided the best course of action was to be try to be a good example. Instead of stooping to their level or pretending I couldn’t hear them, I chose the high road. I smiled and clapped enthusiastically for every girl as she crossed the stage, even when I didn’t care for the outfit, and complimented them to the table. When one sneered, “OMG can you believe she’s studying fashion merchandising? What are her classes about, polkadots?!” I said, “I know, isn’t that amazing?! I bet she’s having so much fun! Maybe she’ll be a buyer at Neiman’s one day!” I returned virtually every catty comment or eye roll with something positive. I’m sure I was super annoying and a total buzz kill but I didn’t care. Eventually, much to my relief, they got a clue.
There are too many situations where women have to deal with negativity. I would rather women lift each other up. No one is ever going to be perfect. We all slip and make snide comments about people we don’t like very much, but at least try. Whether we admit it or not, we are all role models. We all have influence. We all can make a difference. If we all tried to be just a little more kind, a little more empathetic, and little less negative, our world could be a much better place.