Daniela Uslan @DanielaUslan
Feelings of insecurity
are the worst, and they can come from just about anywhere. Having a
strong tribe of girlfriends who lift you up can serve as an amazing
support system to make you feel happy, confident, and secure. But have
you ever left a gathering with other women and felt like hiding out of
While your partner can accidentally say something
that makes you insecure, sometimes other women can be even worse. It’s
hard to face down the judgment and opinions of other women sometimes.
What do women say that make other women the most insecure? I went to the
experts to find out.
Have you gained weight?
Hopefully your friends
know enough not to suggest you’ve gained weight, because it’s one of the
most insecurity-provoking statements one woman can say to another.
Unfortunately, many women find their self-worth in their attractiveness,
and asking another woman if she’s gained weight is one of the quickest
ways to make her feel insecure.
Reverend Sheri Heller, licensed clinical social worker, told me, “It’s
challenging enough for women to acculturate to having one’s worth
linked to one’s appearance. For other women to scrutinize one’s
physicality is even more daunting, as it carries an oppositional
competitive energy.” In other words, another woman may be commenting
on your weight because she feels insecure about her own appearance.
Instead of celebrating each of your unique beauty, she may be trying to
compete with you.
Heller added that talking about another
woman’s weight can make her feel like she’s less desirable, which makes
this topic of discussion even more of a no-no. If you have a friend that
feels the need to comment on your weight on a regular basis, realize
that she probably has insecurities about her own weight. Be
compassionate, but firmly tell her that your weight is not up for
Are you sure he’s the right guy for you?
When you choose a
romantic partner, you’re putting your heart on the line and letting
yourself be vulnerable. Hearing another woman criticize your choice
makes you question your chosen partner and even feel insecure in
Heller told me, “Women turn to other women for
advice and support when it comes to men and dating. To be questioned if
the guy you are enamored with is the ‘right guy’ plants a seed of doubt
not only about his character, but about the ability to judge and discern
what is relationally right for her.”
If you don’t like a
friend’s partner, instead of saying something about it to her, trust
that she’s capable of choosing someone who is right for her. Conversely,
if a friend questions your choice of partner, realize that she may have
good intentions, but that no one knows more about what’s best for you
than you do.
You’re so sensitive
Women are typically
thought of as more sensitive than men. That’s a good thing. It means
that you can easily attune to another’s emotions and intuitively pick up
on important things. Often, however, women accuse each other of being
too sensitive in order to incriminate each other. Instead of apologizing
for hurting each other, they pull the “sensitivity card,” thereby discrediting each other’s emotions. For this reason, it’s easy to feel insecure about your emotions.
Heller told me, “Emotionally
perceptive women are vulnerable to being characterized as ‘delicate,’
even unstable. To hear from a female friend or colleague that you are
‘so sensitive’ can cause one to misconstrue their intuitive capabilities
as a sign of weakness.” Instead of taking a statement about your
sensitivity to heart, celebrate your sensitivity and see this statement
for what it is — a way for the other woman to avoid taking
responsibility for her own emotions and actions.
Kimberly Hershenson, New York based therapist, added, “This
statement invalidates one’s emotions and makes another woman feel they
are wrong or there is something wrong with them for feeling the way they
do.” She added that all emotions are valid, and it’s unhelpful to
make another woman feel like her sensitivity is a problem. If another
woman tries to pass your very real emotions off as sensitivity, let her
know that while she is entitled to her opinion, you are entitled to your
feelings as well.
My other friend doesn’t do that
Unfortunately, it’s all
too common for women to compare themselves to other women and see how
well they stack up. That’s why it can be so hurtful when another woman
tells you that her other friends act differently than you do. It’s
important to remember that we’re all unique individuals and acting
differently from others can actually be a good thing, and not a reason
Hershenson told me, “Comparing one friend to
another may lead to feelings of inferiority or spark competition among
friends. This statement may make someone feel bad about their behavior
and lead to a lack of self confidence.” If your friends do things
differently, celebrate that about them. And if you find a friend
comparing you to her other friends, nicely tell her that you do things
differently, and that you like it that way.
I’m too busy
Have you ever had a
friend who constantly seems too busy to hang out with you? Feeling like
your friend doesn’t have time to hang out with you can lead to
self-doubt and make you feel insecure about the friendship as well.
While it is important to set healthy boundaries and make time for all of
the important things in your life, make sure that you set aside time
for your friends and show them how important they are to you.
Hershenson told me, “Not
having time for someone is a surefire way to make them feel
unimportant. It’s understandable to be busy, but if you are consistently
saying this to someone when they need you it will send the signal that
this person is not a priority ever.”
If a friend is
constantly telling you she is too busy to see or talk to you, be brave
and confront her about it. Tell her how important your friendship is and
that you want to spend time with her. If she is a good friend, she will
find time in her busy schedule to hang out with you.
You can’t have everything
If you’re an ambitious
woman who also values family, you may be subject to other women judging
your decisions. Often, women worry about their ability to have a
successful career and get married and have kids, which is why they might
tell you that you can’t do both. That can bring insecurities to the
surface, as many working moms also battle guilt about focusing too much
or too little on their families.
Heller told me that for women
who feel their biological clock ticking, there are often worries about
how to balance career goals and the desire for a family. She explained, “Women
who express ‘you can’t have everything’ diminish the possibility of
fulfilling these aspirations. This sentiment can be demoralizing for
women who are deeply invested in manifesting divergent aspects of
If you are committed to having a thriving career
and raising a loving family, you can do it. If another woman questions
you about it, realize that she may be battling with those questions
about her own life, and offer to have an open and non judgmental
conversation about it.
You can’t do that
Just as women may tell
each other it’s impossible to have a thriving career and a happy family,
they also may spread messages about other things they think you can’t
do. When a friend frequently tells you that you can’t do things, it may
be a sign that she feels she can’t go after what she wants. But that
doesn’t make it any less painful or frustrating.
Dr. Sona DeLurgio, a psychologist and marriage and family therapist told me, “Starting
any statement this way can be a zinger to another woman’s own
self-doubt. Where some women may feel fueled by this statement, many
others will take it as a crumbling of their hopes.”
Dr. DeLurgio recommended that women use “I can’t”
messages as ways to better understand their own — or their friends’ —
ideas about what a woman can and can’t do. She told me that if a woman
finds herself saying something limiting about what she or another woman
can do, it’s a sign to look inside and question her beliefs. This
exploration can lead to greater openness and growth.
You should/shouldn’t stay home with your kids
Even though women have
the ability to perform well in jobs that used to be off-limits to them
and to design their lives in a way that works for them, the decision of
whether to stay at home with your kids or go back to work can be fraught
with fear and doubt. Many women have strong opinions about what
motherhood should look like, and voicing those thoughts to moms can
create insecurity and doubt.
Dr. DeLurgio told me, “As if
women didn’t have enough pressure upon them to ‘do it all,’ these
statements will only create insecurity in someone who may already be
conflicted about their own decisions to either stay home with kids or be
a working mom. Both of these choices often are loaded in our society
and there are plenty of women out there ready to preach their beliefs to
She recommended that instead of telling other
moms what decisions are right for them, it’s better to focus on your
own choices. Think deeply about what you want to do, and give your
friends the chance to do what’s best for them and their kids, without
You need to try this diet
Even if a diet is
working well for you, don’t expect other women to embrace your lifestyle
choices. Doing so may make them feel insecure because they may feel
that they aren’t as “good” at implementing those choices as you are, leading to feelings of shame.
addition, you don’t want to become another the voice in the crowd of
people telling women what they need to do to look more attractive. Dr.
DeLurgio shared, “Women are continually bombarded with ways to make
their bodies better, trimmer, healthier, sexier, etc. There’s always a
push to become different than we are.“
This constant barrage
of information can have other detrimental effects, as well. Dr. DeLurgio
said that the pattern of trying and failing at many diets often leaves
women out of touch with their own bodies’ needs and wants. Jumping from
diet to diet isn’t healthy, so don’t encourage your friends to jump on
board with your diet if it’s not right for them. If you’ve found a diet
that you love, great! You can share and celebrate it with other women,
but also give them the space to make lifestyle choices that work for
Why women make other women feel insecure
If another woman is
consistently making you feel insecure, you may be left wondering what’s
going on with her. Why does she feel the need to say things that make
you doubt yourself? It’s likely that she feels insecure and is judging
you because of it. Psychologist Patricia O’Gorman came up with the
phrase “girly thoughts” to describe the way women judge themselves and
bring that judgment out on each other.
She told me, “Girly
thoughts is an obnoxious but memorable name I’ve given to how a girl, a
teen, a woman internalizes societal messages that tell her how she
should act, should look, and what she should want, and turns these
messages into a negative self-talk that misdirects her energies,
frustrating her, causing her to doubt herself and begin to judge other
women using these same harsh standards — reinforcing other women’s girly
She thinks it’s important to name and become
conscious of this process so that women can stop judging each other and
start empowering each other, instead.
Oluwole Olusanya is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the fastest-growing lifestyle and entertainment website in the country. He is a banker, writer, blogger, public affairs analyst and a tax consultant. He anchors Trending Topics on SHEFFA where he shares his thoughts and opinions on trending issues.
He is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of South Wales, Wales, United Kingdom. He has diplomas in Banking and Finance, Investigative Journalism, Creative Writing, and Linguistics from Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland and The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom.