Women are your al­lies, not ri­vals

Feel­ing jeal­ous of other women can be un­avoid­able. But with prac­tice, we can learn to sup­port each other, says Chelsea Han­dler

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Ditch the jeal­ousy and build sup­port sys­tems, says Chelsea Han­dler


and we sup­port each other through the good, bad and the rom­pers. These re­la­tion­ships are even more im­por­tant to me as a woman in an in­dus­try where qual­i­ties like be­ing as­sertive and out­spo­ken are praised in men, but when women ex­hibit those same traits they are called a bitch, dif­fi­cult, or too am­bi­tious.

I, at cer­tain times, have been all three of those. It’s dou­ble stan­dards like this that make it nec­es­sary for us women to band to­gether, stand up for one an­other, and call out bull­shit. Most im­por­tantly, we need to re­ject the im­pulse to tear down other women when we feel jeal­ous.

Women have a ten­dency to com­pete about ev­ery­thing – when they’re get­ting mar­ried, how many chil­dren they’re hav­ing. And while it’s okay to have those feel­ings – most of us do – it’s not okay to act on them.

I was a comic the first time it hap­pened to me. I hadn’t be­come suc­cess­ful yet and one of my friends (who I had told to get into com­edy) had signed with a big agent at a show­case. And I didn’t. When she called to tell me the news I was so jeal­ous. I thought, ‘How the hell did this hap­pen? I was the one who got her in.’ I talked to my sis­ter and she said, “No one has the ex­act same thing – you all of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent. I un­der­stand you feel jeal­ous, but don’t act on it. Be happy for her. There will be some­thing else that will come along that will be right for you that wouldn’t have been right for her.”

She made me see there’s room for ev­ery­body, which is some­thing I’ve had to re­mem­ber through­out my ca­reer. You see peo­ple break­ing through and you worry they’re steal­ing your thun­der. Then you think, ‘Wait, any time I’m say­ing some­thing neg­a­tive about an­other woman that’s a re­flec­tion of me.’ It’s our job to be aware of those feel­ings, then to prac­tise not act­ing on them.

One thing I’ve learnt is if you can find the courage to ex­press feel­ings of jeal­ousy, they’ll of­ten dis­solve. Say, “Emily, I’m so happy for you but I’m feel­ing crappy about my­self.” If you’re able to be vul­ner­a­ble around women they’ll be­come your sup­port sys­tem. In fact, when I started my new show I got off to a rocky start. And the peo­ple who gave me the most strength? The women in my life.

It’s not just my clos­est friends, ei­ther. There are women I hardly knew at all who came out of the wood­work to sup­port me. Sarah Sil­ver­man is an ex­am­ple of that; the first time I met her she came up to me and was like, “OMG, I watch your show ev­ery night, how are we not friends?” And I said, “Oh, I as­sumed you didn’t like me.” She replied, “Why would you as­sume that? You’re a woman in com­edy, I watch ev­ery­thing you do.” She opened my eyes and made me re­alise other women are your al­lies, not ri­vals. To­day, when­ever women are launch­ing new movies or projects, I al­ways reach out to them, even if I’ve only met them once on my show, just to let them know that there’s sup­port out there.

What I’ve learnt is that, ul­ti­mately, it’s about self-worth. I want to be the woman who is happy be­ing my­self, not the one wor­ry­ing who is skin­nier or pret­tier or more suc­cess­ful. If you can’t find that in­ner con­fi­dence, you need to do the work and look harder un­til you dis­cover it. Only then can you be a bet­ter friend and girl­friend to ev­ery­one in your life.

Hav­ing suc­cess­ful, mo­ti­vated women in your life is also a priv­i­lege; they add lay­ers to your life, they steady you when you wob­ble, lift you when you fall. To lose that priv­i­lege to jeal­ousy? What a waste that would be. In­stead, let’s re­mem­ber that in or­der to have women as good friends, you have to be one.

Chelsea Sea­son 2 launches on Net­flix in April, with new episodes weekly

“It’s nec­es­sary for us women to band to­gether, stand up for one an­other”

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