Dear Miss Swoon

Dear Miss Swoon,
My friend told me that another friend has been talking behind my back. She said that SHE would look better in my clothes than I do! And that I don’t know how to do my hair very well. What should I do? I’m not sure I want to stay friends with someone who would do that. –Mad Fashion
Dear Mad,
I’m going to state the obvious: there is no way to stop people from talking about us when we’re not there. We are just too interesting! And most of us give in to the temptation at least now and then to take a little bite out of someone else’s hide. It makes us feel better about ourselves to point out our superiority over other people, even people we like.
Both of your friends have played a part in this scenario. One of them said it and one of them repeated it to you. However, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due. That was a nice bit of snarkiness. She didn’t actually say you looked bad in your clothes, just that she would look even better!
But that was enough to start your own personal doubting voice.
If you will listen carefully, you will detect a rather unpleasant chatter in your mind. It’s negative, pretty extreme, and usually starts with YOU! It’s not true stuff, but an accumulation of put-downs you’ve heard along the way. What I’m talking about is the “Your hair is such a mess; you look awful!” kind of chatter we tell ourselves. That’s you being hard on yourself. It feels bad and IS bad for us. For one thing, your friend doesn’t ever have to say those things again, but you may say them to yourself another thousand times. And feel bad all over again–a thousand times!
The real answer is to stop going off on yourself! And think about why that person said what she said. Is she struggling to feel OK about her own appearance? You could think, “Yeah, my clothes would look cute on her too, because they’re cute clothes!” Or, “I like my hair, and it looks pretty much like everybody else’s.”
That’s how to handle your own feelings. Now about your friends. I say, forgive your friends for being only human. If you can’t do this, you will have to jettison a lot of people from your life, ‘cuz we all have our failings. And if you don’t like to be gossiped and snarked about, let gossip and snarkiness stop with you! Make your life a gossip-free zone (tell it to your diary). I think you will like your friends (and yourself) better if you do. –Miss Swoon
Miss Swoon is a licensed psychologist who has a special affinity for her adolescent clients.

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