It isn't only about body size. Women have a way of sizing each other up that can be fiercely competitive and unforgiving. Quick witted, speedily processing women tend to look down on slower, more tranquil women and women who regularly practice yoga and meditation can be harshly critical of their reality television watching sisters. In the workplace, more experienced women can be intolerant and condescending toward less experienced women and young women can laugh behind the backs of older women. For women interacting with their children and other childrens' mothers in play groups, for women on the job outside the home and women running the show in the home meeting with other women can be the very high point and the very lowest of the low points of our lives.
Whether we are straight, bi-sexual or lesbian, women need other women. I think the wounds women can inflict on each other run so deep because of this tremendous need. For many of us, the wounds we experience from men are profound. Yet we somehow cling to this idea or ideal of sisterhood in the face of the unspoken understanding that things are bound to be tough with our relationships with men. If we are betrayed or shunned by other women - left out, rejected or snubbed, it hurts so deeply that sometimes we never fully recover.
Our instinct to belong, our need to fit in, our competitive edge, all of these can serve us well, make us strong, create our families, give us our friendships and our community. But when taken too far or when we are too insecure, we can be harsh, negative, unfeeling, condescending, exclusive, gossiping and hurtful. As much as women want to belong, we need to remember that not all women come in the same size. The fashion industry has done more to leave women out than the food industry. Not only does the media create a frenzy around what clothing size a woman wears, it also drums up a sort of hysteria about how fashion savvy a woman is. "Woman's Films" which center around fashion and being on trend can make it seem as if those women who don't know their Jimmy Choos from their Payless are completely without worth as human beings. (See the Real Housewives of Any Town)