Women are nitpicking critics. Women check out other women’s bodies all the time. No woman goes through her life without having to put up with comments from a girlfriend, a female relative or a female lover which praises or scolds her choice of bra, her waist size or her bodily disfigurements. In the land of the women, you are always subject to being looked up and down, asked to wear ultra skinny pants or change your lipstick color. Women -truthfully- objectify other women, for reasons different than those of males, naturally.
This issue was brought up after two social psychologists, Sarah Gervais and Michael Dodd at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln carried out a study on 29 female and 36 male college students. The researchers used eye-tracking technology to evaluate the participants’ visual behavior as they showed them images of 10 college-aged females, each wearing nondescript jeans and T-shirt. Each subject had three images of her: one untouched, the second altered to look more curvaceous and the third changed into a less-curvaceous body.
The results confirmed what was already anticipated. Participants, both males and females, gazed mostly at the females breasts, hips and waists. When it came to analyzing the results, however, males and females begged to differ. Women regarded the curvaceous and less curvaceous subjects equally while men had a more positive outlook on the more curvy ones. Men rated sexually attractive women (based on their boob size, narrow waists and wide hips) with a higher positive personalities than their fellow, less appealing women. So men do believe a woman whose body is sexier has a better personality? This tells stories on the “I want a beautiful soul” myth.
Women objectified other women, however, for social comparison purposes. This doesn’t need a scientific explanation. Any woman who has ever been to a party must’ve known that feeling, when she keeps tracking other women’s dresses and boob jobs. This one has a fine ass, she might consider sadly. This girl’s belly is not as flat as it should be, she would smugly perceive. It’s not that graphic, but women are competitive by nature. Dismiss all the misogynist crap about men being the ones behind the rivalry wheel, those haven’t seen women fighting over something. It’s definitely not a man. It’s just everything a woman sees another woman pining after, whether it was a pair of shoes, new hair color, or -in relation to the new-found study- the perfect body shape.
When asking random Egyptian women on how they view other women, the answers were pretty predictable. Each and every one gushed about the value of personality, smile, sense of humor and style. But when tables were turned and we asked women on how other women viewed them, each one had her own horrifying “sizing up” experience. While some comments were well-meant and positive, some women really confessed to having been harshly scrutinized.
D.S. (24) said that a lot of her friends check out her rather flat belly, bony arms and crop-cut hair. G.R. (50) said her co-workers always comment on her wrinkles-free face and her far-from-toned tummy. E.M. (23) said that ever since she put on a few pounds, she had been getting all kinds on negative comments on her body image and she had been sized up a lot more than often, even with her facial features considered the “epitome of Egyptian beauty.”
So women checking out other women, that just doesn’t sound healthy for planning to tone down the “female objectification” culture. Things are kind of bright however when we learn that the ogling behavior is not just acquired through our cavemen ancestors but a learned trait that we gained from watching maybe too many sexist music videos. If we can subconsciously learn to boob-spy we definitely are capable of shifting our gaze to a different territory like the eyes, the nose or the lips.
Written by: Jaylan Salah