“Girls get competitive, as though there’s only one spot in the world for everything, but that’s not true.” –Zooey Deschanel

“Girls get competitive, as though there’s only one spot in the world for everything, but that’s not true.” –Zooey Deschanel

With this sentence, Ms. Deschanel perfectly summed up the struggle of young women today. We constantly pit ourselves against the next woman, aiming to be better; smarter; stronger. And if we can’t, we tear her down until we’re convinced we’re above her. When we do this, not only do we hurt ourselves by weighing ourselves down with negative thoughts, but we also contribute to a culture that consistently claims women are weak because they cannot rise above personal feelings to focus on more important matters. Each time we tear another woman down instead of building her up, we play into a divisive social structure.

Maybe it’s because for every five famous men we learn about in history and literature and science, we only learn about one woman. Maybe it’s because the few women we see in legislature rarely work together towards any end, while the men continue to make cohesive decisions regarding women’s issues. Maybe it’s because of films like The Duff or Clueless that claim a woman’s priority is her rank on the scales of likeability and attractiveness. Whatever it is that makes women feel that we can’t appreciate and uplift each other, it has to change.

As a woman, it’s often difficult to remember the truth in Deschanel’s statement—that there is more than one spot in the world for everything, and there is not one type of girl who fits into that spot. We think of words like smart, pretty, and successful as locks, and ourselves as the keys that must fit neatly into them. But the truth is, inside these words, these categories we use to define ourselves, there is room for everyone. This idea may not be reinforced by the media or taught in our schools, but it’s valid. It’s real. And if we could just stop playing into these ideas and stereotypes about ourselves, we could all see that. Then we could begin to change.