“I would never wear that outfit, but you look so good!”
“Oh you’re going to McDonald’s? I stopped eating fast food. You know your metabolism will slow down eventually, right?”
“You know boys won’t like you if you act to desperate. You should play hard to get.”
“Stop throwing the ball like that. You are throwing it like a girl!”
In the 1900’s, emerging fashion trends for women included sleeveless tops and skirts allowing for bare legs. Thus, the now infamous company Gillette, created the first women’s razor in 1915 instilling the idea that women ‘should shave’ their legs and armpits. Women shaving is one of the first of many societal projections that women have faced directly from advertisers.
According to the Britannica dictionary, projection can be defined as ‘the mental process by which people attribute to others what is in their own minds.’ Projection can be silent or verbal. Children commonly use projection as a defense mechanism, but this style of communication can often translate into adulthood. Naturally, we want to protect ourselves. We want to protect our insecurities and make sure that these do not become validated. Pushing down our anxieties so far that we forget about them and end up hurting ourselves and other people in the process. Although all people can project and/or be a victim of projection, mainly, we will be speaking upon how we can deter types of projections against women through the observation of women-on-women projecting.
Women on women projection is generational. Our grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and other female figures in our lives are all victims of this type of projection. The hard truth is, we have carried on this tradition since the beginning of women’s oppression.
Women shame themselves for getting older, growing body hair, and eating calories throughout the day. And why? Who or what is feeding this shame into our brains? That information is not so simple, which is why it is systematic. It can occur subconsciously through ideals we have been taught our whole lives.
For example, let’s say you are out to dinner with a friend. You both decide you want to get a cheeseburger and fries. As dinner wraps up, you notice that your friend has only eaten half of their food meanwhile you have finished all of yours. Your friend notices this and says, “Wow! That was so much food. How did you even eat all of that?”
Let’s unpack this. Who is telling you that you ate too much? Is it your friend? Is it your friend’s mom who taught her that she should only eat half portions at restaurants? Is it because your friend is secretly on a diet and wants you to feel guilty for eating more than them? Why is your friend on that diet in the first place? Who is telling her she needs to lose weight?
Overall, the most important thing to identify is that your friend is projecting on you. YOU can deny projection rather than absorbing it. Reminding yourself that you are comfortable with how you look. Her comment could have come from a multitude of sources including generational values that may not be an actual reflection of how she feels about herself and you.
Although this example is very blatant and may sound silly, trying to avoid or even address projections from people you trust can be challenging. As it will most likely bring up complicated issues for the other person. Not to mention, you may not even recognize that you are being projected on in that very moment. Often, the realization comes later.
The good news is we can stop this cycle with just us girls! Empowered women empower women. Starting with recognition, you may be able to identify those in your life who may influence you negatively. Slowly addressing the issue directly while keeping the conversation open will empower you as well as other women in your life.
Women are so much stronger than we think that we are. The uterus is quite literally the strongest muscle in the female body. We have created all the human life that exists on this earth. We deserve to have identity and power beyond what we give ourselves credit for. Maintaining our own identity is what makes us human. As females this is especially challenging to do. By using each other to defeat and block projections, future generations of women can thrive without self-doubt.
Written by: Peyton Hammon-Business Development Assistant, Candor Health Education