Picture this: I’m at the bar ordering my usual espresso martini (hello coffee and vodka, you beautiful duo). A woman interrupts my order and promptly says, “You don’t eat cake do you?” while looking me up and down, possibly worse than I’ve ever encountered by any man.
Awkwardly, I giggled and said, “Sure I do” and proceeded to make my delicious order. She chimed in again, saying “I wish I looked like you” to which I responded, “umm, thanks”, and walked away.
This woman was at the bar with her girlfriends, and she — I’m presuming — had no idea she’d just objectified me more blatantly than almost any man I’ve ever met. This happens all the time, and it needs to stop.
If you saw my article on the ABC last month, you know I spoke out about living with an eating disorder for over 10 years and the prevalence of this in my industry — the world of entertainment. The constant objectification of women, by other women. That being said, this is a problem much deeper than my personal fight for health.
Backhanded ‘compliments’ such as these are not compliments; instead they can insult, cheapen and objectify another.
Watch: Women share the moments they wished they could have been a man. (Post continues after video.)
Women need to recognise what they’re doing and how it can affect the person they’re talking to. Don’t be irresponsibly sexist, just don’t. Think twice. Count to 10.
Here are some examples:
1. “You don’t eat cake, do you?”
I love cake, like most people. In fact, I’m not sure I trust anyone who doesn’t like cake. But the issue here is not the sugary item in question. The issue is that you’re assuming, based on my silhouette, that I choose carrot sticks over carrot cake.
Here’s the thing: mind your own business, pretty please, and don’t make comments based on my eating habits or body. You are excluding me from the people in this world who enjoy a piece of cake — so basically, everyone.
How is this different than a bully at school telling me I’m different because I have glasses? You just became a ‘mean girl’ without realising it. It doesn’t become you.
There is "constant objectification by women to other women". Image via iStock.
2. "How do you stay so thin?"
How about walking away from conversations such as these? I do my best to be healthy. I have my struggles, but I do my best. I always find this question so personal and difficult to answer.
Often, I say something like “I stay active” or “I eat a lot but small meals” or blah, blah, blah... The point is, that we live in a big world, full of interesting things to talk about other than my current BMI status.
3. "You’re so petite and cute!"
OK, this one I hear more than anything. Let me get the record straight and just say, ladies, I’m not a Pomeranian — I will not sit in your lap and let you pet me. I’m a few months shy of 30 years old, not your five-year-old niece at a birthday party. Do not pat my head, or try and hug me, or squeeze my waist, or any other patronising gesture.
A close friend of mine had this Twitter bio that said “I don’t patronise bunny rabbits.” Somehow, this feels relevant to me. I’m short, I’m thin, I’m not a toy poodle. (Post continues after gallery.)
4. "I can’t believe you’re eating that much!"
Hey, I like food and I wasn’t looking at my plate. I was enjoying it, but you seem to be watching me like a hawk.
How much should I eat? Would you like to quantify my days with what total caloric intake you think I should have? We women are harder on each other than any man I’ve ever known.
"I can't believe you're eating that much!" Image via Columbia Pictures.
5. "I wish I had your body."
This is like an apple saying to an orange “I wish I was an orange.” It just makes the orange feel bad for being different to the apple.
Also, we are not fruit. We are complex, opposable-thumb-bearing, intelligent human beings. We are not a reflection of our scales, or our hair, or our number-one photo on Instagram. Let our thoughts, our voices be the beacon of who we are, not just what we look like. Sure, I like to get dressed up and look my best, but it’s not all about that.
As women, let’s be better at being kinder. Let’s stop objectifying other women, and start earning the respect we demand. Be aware and, as the saying goes, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.