Why Comparing Yourself to Other Women is Dangerous

One of my perhaps more regrettable traits and/or habits (that I have been made aware of by my mother since age eight) is that I compare myself to other people a lot. I have gotten a lot better at quieting this instinct, but I was in a situation today where I realized my comparing does a lot of hindering when it comes to feeling good about myself and my body.

I was feeling really lazy about going to the gym even though I knew it would make me feel better and I told myself to just do the best I could do in this moment. I finally went and got on a treadmill and I was actually feeling pretty good at the beginning. I was confidently striding a long and a Giselle look-alike got on the machine right next to me.
She was probably six inches taller than me, consequently thinner and just all of the things I am conditioned into thinking defines beauty. I got this heavy, insecure feeling and all I could think about was what our behinds must look like next to each other, bouncing along.

My head space really drastically went from feeling strong and normal to panicky and bad about myself. What is going on? Ohhh…I’m comparing myself to this stranger for no good reason and it’s sucking positivity out of me.

Luckily, I caught myself and my negative-thoughts loop and immediately gave myself a little pep talk. What prompted me to compare myself to this person? Why do I care at all? Why am I so worried about what other people are looking at? (p.s. Everyone is always so into how they are coming across, they generally aren’t even paying attention). I realized in order to get myself out of this space, I needed to focus more on myself and what I was doing.

I realized that I felt proud I actually made it to the gym and that I was fulfilling my own personal exercise goals. After I had my turn around, I felt this lightness come back into my step and pseudo-super-model next to me kind of faded out of my periphery. (She also got off way before me, but who’s counting anyways, right? =)

Looking back, I think that when I was at my worst with my food and body stuff, some of it was due to a perpetual bad habit of comparing myself to other people…Other people’s bodies, eating habits, jean size, social lives, accomplishments, you name it. After learning to focus more on my own thing, I think it had a direct correlation to me being able to listen to my body and really figuring out what I need and what is best for me. It takes some practice to recognize moments of comparing and then ways to talk yourself out of doing it, but ultimately I think it is a helpful thing to work on! There’s little use for comparing on the road to recovery because we are all so different!

Do you compare yourself to other women in day-to-day life? Or at work? Or at the gym? —Morgan

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24 Responses to Why Comparing Yourself to Other Women is Dangerous

  1. Angie says:

    Wow - This post is so relevant for me. I constantly compare myself to other people - it’s a terrible habit. I have been doing this for so long so I have to break my cycle of thinking.

    This is my problem: I know the behavior is bad, but I still find myself falling into it… Like Morgan writes, I compare myself to ‘Other people’s bodies, eating habits, jean size, social lives, accomplishments, you name it.’ I feel like I’m not good enough. It’s an insecurity problem that I have be on top of otherwise the negative behavior creeps into every facet of my life. I will compare myself everywhere - all the time. I cannot think of one area where I have not compared myself. Wow - I wish I had more inspiring/helpful words. This is something I should work on so I can have a little victory to celebrate at the end of the week… Angie

    • Sunny says:

      Hey Angie-thanks for commenting on this. I used to struggle with this BIG time. One thing I found helpful was gently reminding myself every single time thoughts like that came up that, “Her body has nothing to do with mine” and “My experiences are completely different than hers.” Our lives, our experiences, where we come from, what our inner issues are can all express themselves in our bodies-so how can we possibly expect them to look just like anyone else’s? xo…Sunny

  2. Razieh says:

    I do this all the time, but never actually stopped to recognize it. My best friend has an amazingly toned body but never works out, everyone…including guys and girls always comment on how amazing her body is. Whenever i hear one of my guy friends comment on her body, i automatically feel a wave of insecurity run through my body. It almost always changes my mood for the day. I’m so glad this article was written, because its so true….you really have to stop and ask yourself…why do i care so much about this other persons looks. It should be a stop sign for your brain to stop and refocus on yourself.

  3. lailai says:

    i really like this post, i’m going to start cautioning myself when i catch myself doing that, I’ll think of the picture attached to this post and say “i’m an orange she’s an apple, but delicious, but different flavours.” :)

  4. Samara says:

    This is an awesome piece Morgan; I can relate to alot of what you said. For me, comparing myself with others used to be limited to shopping trips at the mall or, like yourself, the gym.

    However, with the ever growing popularity of social networks, like Facebook, the need to compare, for me, became worse. On bad days, I used to look at other people’s photo albums and just think, “wow, they lead more exciting lives than I do,” or “dang, she reeeallly works out!” Of course, everyone’s Facebook profile are images created to put out a carefully made persona; I’ve learned that 93 percent of what is posted on Facebook is persona (that happy couple picture? they’re really anything but). Still, on my worse days, all my friends on Facebook are just so much cooler than I am.

    For Lent, I actually gave up Facebook. It was really difficult at first. But now? It doesn’t really matter to me as much. It’s like I’ve stepped out of a bubble. I’ve even thought about deleting my Facebook account all together. Or, at the very least, when Lent IS over, limit Facebook time to once a week.

    It’s all about the first step. Recognize the problem then find a solution. :)

  5. Lauren says:

    This is something I really need to work on. I’m a college freshman, and ever since the beginning of the year I’ve noticed that I constantly compare myself to other students. It’s something I’ve always done, but the problem has become intensified since I’ve been here. It’s hard because I’m essentially living with everyone else on campus, so at every waking moment I’m surrounded by other students. As such, I always compare myself to other girls when I’m in the dining hall, at the gym, at practice, while walking across campus… even when I’m in library! It’s gotten out of control. I’ve been seeing a therapist who has been helping me to overcome my negative body image and she’s advised me to re-direct my thoughts whenever I start comparing myself. This issue is so revelant for me today, thank you so much for addressing it!

  6. To me, this is the voice of the patriarchy getting internalized and oppressing me from the inside out - it’s trying to tell me “you fall short, you’re not good enough” - and the healthy response is “for whom? According to whose standards, and especially, why?” When I answer that question, I see that my true liberation is to ignore the patriarchy’s messages to me and just live, and not care or notice how I appear to others in the Matrix :)

    • K says:

      I think your absolutely right. These are feelings that, I believe, we are conditioned to feel and think and are caused by the images and messages that inundate us through the media in our society. I find myself also having extremely low self esteem, (especially since I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend). I think before I was working on myself and only was guided by my inner voice and needs. Now I feel like a slave to outer image and what other people think of me.

      Why should we even begin to measure our worth by our looks? We are so much stronger, dynamic and complex as individual human beings. Every time I find myself doing this, I realize that I’m putting a different lens over my eyes because I’m trying to see myself through my boyfriend’s eyes. I just want to be blinded again to other’s perspectives and be able to work from on inside rather than obsess on the outer.

  7. Olivia says:

    I totally agree with everyone about this being a really good and relevant topic.
    I also do have a problem with comparing myself to others, especially physically, but in other domains too. And I have noticed that the intensity/frequence at which I compare myself is pretty much in direct relation to my level of self-esteem at the moment..
    For example, about a year and a half ago, I was feeling so much better about myself, and had almost completely stopped bingeing and obsessing over food (I actually thought it was the end of my food issues.. alas.), and when I saw a gorgeous woman, I’d just think to myself - ‘wow, she’s so gorgeous!’. And that would be the end of it, with no consequences whatsoever on my self-image.
    Now, it’s pretty much ‘wow, she’s so much prettier than I am’ or ‘why can’t I look more like her?!’.

    …I’m definetely working on that issue though. (the issue of comparing myself, not the issue of looking more like ‘her’ :))

  8. Emily says:

    Very, very relevant topic for me, too. I’ve been comparing myself to other women my whole life, though I’ve become acutely aware of it in the past few months and have tried to stop it.

    One of the things I’ve done is try to examine where my urge to compare comes from. I am an inveterate perfectionist and I think my body is one of the things that I’m supposed to control and have it be perfect. So part of this journey is to be gentle and forgive myself when I fail in all areas of my life - professional, personal, physical. I also remind myself that not everyone can be good at everything.

    A question to myself when I realize I’m comparing is: So what? If the girl on the subway has skinnier thighs than me, is she more worthy of being loved than I am? (Sometimes my answer to this is yes - I’m working on that, too.) Or I apply my thinking to someone I love: My wonderful grandma is a little overweight. So what? Does that mean she’s less deserving of my love? Of my grandpa’s love? (And then the answer is always no.)

    Another tool I’ve been using is accepting compliments by saying “thank you” instead of brushing away the praise. And I’m beginning to realize that I probably have features that other people compare themselves against, too. But not one of us wants to be a Frankenstein of my eyes, your waist, her thighs…

    The last thing that has been very helpful to me is faith. I was in church on Sunday and it struck me during communion that everyone going up to the altar is a child of God and is loved no matter what their physical or emotional flaws. The full force of that realization was powerful - I just sat in the church and cried, it struck me so hard.

    All of that said, I can’t completely stop my comparing instinct. But I know I am making progress, and that feels exceptionally good.

  9. Ashley says:

    My friend told me that I needed to stop comparing myself to other people. I don’t really listen and I still do it. I even try to compare myself to my boyfriend’s exes because I remember that he told me that one of his exes had a nice butt and a small waist and that bothered me because I want to be like that but I’m not and I don’t think that’s fair, So I become depressed and pessimistic about how I look and what I look like in clothes, how I wish my hair was straight so I wouldn’t have to worry about blow drying it to become straight. I like different kinds of clothing styles too but if I tried to wear some of the things that I like I know it wouldn’t look right on me because it’s made for someone who looks sexy and skinny. I don’t know what to do at this point

    • Quin says:

      Ashley! Comparing yourself (especially while in a relationship) is toxic. I know this from experience. I used to be ridiculiously hard on myself, always thinking my boyfriend thought every other girl had a nice body, skinnier thighs, skinnier waist, better butt… and i made it vocal. Walking through the mall with him would completely ruin my day. It got so hard for both of us to ever even have fun. Telling him made things bad, and keepin it to myself made it bad too. I felt like I couldn’t win.
      But i know that he thinks i’m beautiful. and he loves me. and he tells me this. if he didn’t think so… why would he say it and why would he be with me..
      Constantly comparing myself was so draining, I didn’t want to do anything. I got depressed and even got upset when we watched a movie with a pretty lady. But to help me get over this I started catching myself when i started to think like that.. i’d say “whatever! i know i’m pretty. I have pretty eyes, a nice smile, cute butt, nice legs…” i just stop myself in my thought tracks and refocus. i refocused on me. because ashley, that’s wht it’s about! YOU! not her.

      • keri says:


        I try and do that but I am struggling. I don’t have positive words for myself.
        My boyfriend constantly tells me that I am the most beautiful woman in the world, but everytime we watch a movie or see a magazine in a store, I get depressed that I don’t look like those women and go through a whole list of my negative attributes in my head. I try and quit to tell myself good things but I don’t really believe them so it never works. I don’t want to lose my boyfriend so I always keep these feelings inside, but he knows. Any advice besides what we have heard?

  10. Syrena says:

    Hi everyone!

    I like this post as well, because this is something I can totally relate to.

    I will feel really good or at least okay, and then this stunning woman will be in the same place as I am (and especially if I see a cute guy that I like) all of a sudden I just feel ugly and dumb! (lol) I know it’s stupid and a lot of people do tell me that I am pretty and stuff, but it doesn’t mean much to me unless I really feel it myself.

    Here’s a little bit of advice I hope helps all the ladies reading this. Instead of trying to compete with or compare yourself with anyone else, understand that you are truly special and unique and different from EVERY other woman in the world, therefore, you have your own Spotlight created for YOU to shine in. What I mean by that is, you wouldn’t say that Katie Perry is better or prettier than Rihanna or vice versa for instance, you would say that they are both different. They both stand out in their own way, because they are both standing in their own Spotlight. This is what us ladies must do too!

    I hope this helps!!!

    All the best to us Stars (in our own right)!!!

    Lots of love!!!



  11. xylvia says:

    Seriously, i have this problem and its really damaging ma self confidence and optimism. i like ma self but i just cant stop comparing maself with people. in the society am in people love people with some flesh. have been told by many that am thin. and its really affecting me. to an extent that am afraid of meeting new people. pliz help me coz this is driving me nuts. how should i stop it.

  12. Debby says:

    I believe we get into the habit of comparing ourselves to others, by not knowing who we are. We are all diffferent and God made us that way for a purpose. When we can truely say to ourselves I am here for a reason and I am the way I am for a reason, and accept the way I am you will struggle with these feelings of inferiority. We all struggle to become better and I believe that is healthy, but someone will always be prettier, richer, more educated, more accomplished than you are. So accept your own abilities, talents, faults, and strive to change the ones you can and accept yourself and know you have been created to be different and you have unique qualities that no one else has.

  13. Tiny says:

    I have done exactly this my entire life. I am unusually small. I am 40 years old, 5’4 and 95 lbs.That means that I am not as curvaceous as I would like to be. So many of my friends tell me that they would “love” to be my size. Funny thing is, I would love to be their size. So, every time I see one of these women who are on a constant diet and/or fast, all I am thinking is, ‘but jeez, I want to look like you.’

    I guess my point is that we all do it. We really have been conditioned into a constant state of not good enough. I am too thin. My friends are too large. There is no place to be happy. If I finally do get to look like whoever I am jealous of, I will certainly just want to look like someone else.

    We really should revolt!!!!!

  14. Rctips says:

    I think I can totally relate to this post. I constantly compare myself with other girls, everyone. People who maybe are not as pretty as me and people I think are far more prettier. Sometimes comparing myself to others makes me feel good about myself but the majority of the time it doesn’t, infact it actually drains me. I think you are right if I am conscious about what I am doing I may be able to change it. Completely change my way of thinking cause at the end of the day I’m not better than any one else and no one is better than me. Just need some helpful hints on how to do thiz

  15. LUCELLE says:

    i can completely relate to this.

  16. LUCELLE says:

    i compare myself all the time without even realising- everyday i obsess and compare aspects of my life. From my career, to my weight, skin, hair, height and figure! my boyfriends ex was tall, skinny and slightly lanky. I am of average height 168cm, got curves and a little bit of a muffin top- since i have been with my boyfriend i have put on approx 8 kilos and this has only made me feel worse. i used to compare myself and think that i was better than her and I used to feel sexy. Now i compare myself and think that he was better off before and wonder if he thinks he down graded. I hate that i obsess like this. A couple of weeks ago I over heard him say another girl was ‘hot’ this really took a blow to my self esteem. especially because she was very skinny like his ex. The type of skinny that comes naturally and that i will never get even if i worked out because i would always have more muscle on me and atheltic looking. i feel that as a i get older this issue is becoming worse. i hate that i dont look like the younger girl anymore. But i feel already better about reading these posts. some of these comments have really helped. we all have our own abilities and achievements. I try to give love to my loved ones as much as i possibly can and i deserve love as well.
    it really makes me realise how silly it is writing it here. But I used to do it as a tool to motivate myself to do better and achieve better. i would even compare our career directions- shes a teacher and im in office admin. Alot of my friends are teachers and everytime something comes on facebook like a status like ‘i love teaching kids’ and my boyfriend likes it -it only makes me feel worse. Even though i love kids i never really wanted that career path so why do i care what my boyfriend would want. especailly when he says ‘if i were a girl id be a teacher’ it cuts deep especially since hes ex is a teacher. i know though oneday i will be the best mum i can ever be. so again this is just one example of it. i am going to change and trust more in MY decisions. I am beautiful, I am strong, and I am a woman- and i will learn to look after and care for MY body.

  17. Lingerie says:

    Not everyone looks like a lingerie model, yet all women in different sizes are beautiful. I always try to focus on my inner beauty instead.

  18. KATIE says:

    i know i compare myself too everyone.. models, my sisters, my friends… and when im 15 years old i should be having the time of my life… im fit and healthy never eat junkfood or fast food, but i hate myself i have freckles which i have had some lasered off, braces at the moment, 158cm tall fit toned body… but i put so much pressure on myself and my family from doing this too myself… we could be watching home and away i ask mum do i look ruby or april… and i think it breaks her heart watching one off her daughters hate herself so much… i cant handle this anymore sometimes i just want to cry and scream and get myself away from here… i feel so bad thinking like this as someone out there is dying, starving, lost limbs and here we are comparing myself to others around… so today im going to try and stop the way i feel. we need to know our feelings can lie to us, so lets stop thinking of the past but think of our future lets stop this for once and for all.

  19. Naoko says:

    I can totally relate to this and I think every girl could relate to this in some sense.
    I’ve been suffering with bulimia since junior year of high school and it’s now my eighth year. I’ve always compared myself with other people, not only with how I look but also with the person that I am. I hate how insecure I could be and I’ve always known who I wanted to be from an early stage in life. Hiding your own insecurities from other people requires so much strength. And the worst part is that it does not make me feel any better even though I confess it to someone, say my mom. All the words that come out of my mouth makes me hate myself even more, because I know that it’s my problem and there’s nothing that anyone could do besides myself, but I still keep on reaching out for help and salvation. My mind and my emotions have such a big gap in between and being aware of that kills me inside. It tells myself how uncontrollable I am. Then I end up staying in my bed during the weekend, to go to sleep or, in other words, make my self unconscious so that I don’t have to compare myself with other people in the outside world and worry about how miserable my life is or how ugly I look. On week days, I eat the most unhealthy diet until I get completely full and vomit everything afterwards. Though I know I need to replace these habits into something that could help myself from this condition, but I always fail. I feel so helpless about myself and feel like I’ll never get out of this.

  20. Lai says:

    I feel exactly the same of all of you! While reading your comments, came tears to my eyes to read such bad and sad things, and things that i also think about myself! When i was a teen i thought that with a coupple of years i’d be a secure strong woman, but the truth is that with 25yo now, i feel worse.. A lot of times i think wth my boyfriend is doing with me cuz i think he deserved better.. i feel bad when i see girls with blue/green eyes cuz i wanted that and mine are dark, when i see taller girls, when i see Angelina, when i see a blond girl… its all!!! Things are getting so bad now that i even think that my future kids dont deserve my “uglyness” so i shouldnt have them.. idk what to do anymore.. i feel like i’m missing my life with those things but at them same time i cant think differently..
    Well girls, good luck to you.. Take care!

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