In high school my skin was always . . . less clear than my friends'. It was the main thing I was unhappy with about myself, I think. (not that I was unhappy, but it would have been the first thing I changed if I could). But we were all teenagers, and none of us had perfect skin.
I remember occasionally standing in front of bathroom mirrors at a dance or at school with my friends and one of them complaining about their one zit. I would immediately point to myself and say, "Hello! You should be grateful!"
Starting around that time I began learning something. Just because my skin was worse than theirs doesn't mean that it wasn't a big deal for them to have a zit. They could be as unhappy about their one as I was about my twelve.
Because women compare themselves to each other so much, even those of us who feel we don't (I'm talking to you, self), complaining about or mentioning something like weight, pregnancy, physical appearance, almost anything, can turn into something of a competition, or at least can get people feeling defensive or offended. I hate that.
I'm sure there are some women that make jabs at a "friend" who is 30 pounds heavier than them by saying, "Oh! I'm just so fat! I really have to get rid of these disgusting 10 pounds!" But I doubt it happens a lot. Mostly, I think we worry more about ourselves and aren't thinking so much about those around us.
When a friend of mine who, to me seems quite thin talks about needing to lose weight, I only feel empathy. I know exactly how it feels to really want to lose weight. Just because I want to lose (insert number) pounds and she couldn't lose more than (insert much smaller number) without looking anorexic doesn't matter (I'm exaggerating, of course, but it sometimes feels like this). She has the same feelings I do. And that is okay.
I have felt a little sick after complaining about my child's behavior during church when I realized that the person I was talking to struggled much more with her children. I would not want her to think I was suggesting that even my mild mannered child was bad, so I must think her children were terrible.
I appreciate when this happens and instead of getting offended and holding it against me the person says something along the lines of "Oh, then you must think MY kids are little hellions!" or something like that. Of course I feel awful realizing what I sounded like, but then I can apologize and we can be fine. Hopefully. Everyone sticks their foot in their mouth sometimes, but we should give each other the benefit of the doubt. And even if someone does seem to be unkind on purpose, that's no reason to get offended or hold a grudge (see earlier post on taking offense).
But mostly I think we have to recognize that everyone has trials on their own level. Shoot, I can't remember who posted about someone telling them that they only had two children so she could not empathize with what she (a mother of four) was going through. Really? Back when you had two you never felt stressed or overwhelmed? It doesn't matter whose is worse, we have all felt it to some extent. Let's commiserate with one another!
Okay, this really doesn't sound how I mean it to. I'm not saying everyone should complain and we should all just try to make each other feel better. I'm also not saying that it's perfectly fine for people to complain about something the person they are complaining to struggles with more than them. But I am actually saying both of those things a little bit.
Mostly I just think we need to have all of our sensitivities be on the side of the things we say about ourselves in order to be careful not to hurt others, and not be so sensitive to what other people say about themselves and letting those things hurt us or think ill of the person saying them. We're all in this together. Really. We should respond with a heartfelt and sympathetic, "I know!" and leave off the "better than you do!"