Meet my friend Emma. She's a beauty blogger. I've known her for nearly seventeen years, and she's an amazing human being.
The first time I met Emma, it was the first day of our Master's degree (journalism, if you're wondering). I was doing what I now realise was practicing my resting bitch face, long before we all became aware that it was even a thing. Sitting in an unfamiliar foyer in an unfamiliar city, my stomach churned with the prospect of meeting all these new people who were undoubtedly more confident than I was feeling. She walked into the room and was instantly the most attractive thing about it. Stylish, beautiful and slender: the absolute opposite of 22 year old me. I was instantly jealous of this obvious turbo-bitch of a woman and presumed that she would prove, in some way, one day, to be my superhot nemesis. I was pretty melodramatic, even back then. Then the weirdest thing happened. She walked over and sat next to me. And she talked to me. She must be nervous, I thought, doesn't know anyone yet. But she didn't seem to be a massive bitch. And that day, I had a beautiful friend. We had loads in common and laughed a lot, but I figured she would find a better, more appropriate, attractive friend once she met other people on the course. I thought she was just hanging out with me whilst she could find someone more worthy of her company. HOW COULD SHE POSSIBLY WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME?
Seventeen years later, we might live at opposite ends of the country, but she's still someone I count as a fiercely awesome and close friend. She's helped me through some of the most awful and difficult times of my life. She's helped me move house, city, even country. She painted my toenails for me when I was 21 stone and I couldn't bend over to reach them. We've cried and we've laughed and we've celebrated and mourned. We've not seen each other for ages but we know that we will again.
I presumed I couldn't even be her friend because she was too pretty for me. I thought she was fake-friending me for convenience. I assumed she was mean or cruel or nasty. So, who was the real bitch?! None of the judgments I made about Emma on the first day we met had anything to do with her. They were rooted in pure bigotry, and fuelled by my own insecurities. As women, we are taught to fear each other; we see threats that aren't there. We judge based on size, beauty, intelligence, clothing, eyebrows, for fucks sake, anything.
Fortunately, I don't think that way anymore when I meet new people, and I can't believe I ever did. The confidence I have in myself now means that I waste so much less time worrying about what other people think of, or say about, me. The damage we do is to ourselves when we judge others in this way. The less you feel worthy, the less chance you have of finding that friend who sticks by you for a lifetime.