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
Ditch the jealousy and build support systems, says Chelsea Handler
I PRIDE MYSELF ON THE RELATIONSHIPS I HAVE WITH OTHER WOMEN,
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”