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The Envy Gap Is What Holds Women Back—Just See Cindy Crawford


Recently, an unflattering photo of Cindy Crawford from a Marie Claire photo shoot came to light. Despite the evident poor lighting, heavy filter usage, and now alleged photoshopping that contributed directly to a likely inaccurate and certainly unflattering photo for Crawford, the overwhelming cheers at this “revelation” were revealing. The barely concealed joy from many women seizing an opportunity to tear Crawford down was palpable.

The worst part is that these same women framed it as supportive of Crawford. Heralding this photo as “truth” says more about what drives some women than whether Crawford is still a stunner. Spoiler, she is. This reaction is a fundamental reason why more legislation won’t bring equity to western women. The real gap between men and women is the one not often discussed. It’s the envy gap.

“No matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment – we’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more,” Marie Claire posted on its website. Women tripping over themselves to “congratulate” Crawford for a solitary unflattering photo aren’t supporting her. If love is only doled out to other women from women when they are at their worst, one might worry at incentive system they’re creating. Cindy Crawford is quite aware of the dynamic and does the mandatory self-denigration ritual to remain acceptable to other women.

You Don’t Need to Denigrate Your Beauty, Cindy Crawford

“Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford,” People Magazine quoted Crawford from a past interview, in its story about the unflattering photo. “I have fat days, ugly days, blimp days, days that I just feel terrible about myself. I don’t want to have to be beautiful all the time” The consequences would be too severe if Cindy admitted the truth and simply said, “Thank you,” and admitted what we all know. She is remarkably symmetrical and thus fits into a long-accepted standard of beauty that predates modern culture. In other words, she is stunning. She started off as a chemical engineering major and often leans Right in her politics, so clearly also a smart lady. What would happen if Cindy did say thank you? Well, thankfully, Amy Schumer has an excellent take on this exact problem (language nsfw).

Women engaged in this stampede of weaponized envy are at the root of why women shy away from achievement. The enforced norm in female culture of managing expectations down to the lowest common denominator needs to stop. The fact is, Crawford per this recent photo is still spectacular-looking.

She got flowers and I got her. Happy Valentines Day @cindycrawford A photo posted by Rande Gerber (@randegerber) on

Some women simply cannot stand that she is stunning despite that having no bearing on who they are. Instead, many women leap with a barely concealed glee when there might be an opportunity to redistribute what they do not possess. Within the same week, women were foaming at the mouth over this woman’s post-pregnancy body as if she was violently attacking them with her well-recovered abs. She did not get the memo about keeping her expectations in line with the lowest common denominator and instead took her passion for fitness and demonstrated how it can help your body during and after pregnancy.

Stuck in a Fixed-Pie Mindset in a World with Limitless Potential

The sheer desperation displayed during the moment they diminish another woman shows why women still aren’t measuring up to men. Men do not spend their days lamenting Brad Pitt’s good looks. They accept differences in allocation as the norm. Women often find it easier to avoid building their own capacity and resort to establishing their value by tearing others down.

This is the tragedy of today’s woman stuck in a fixed-pie mindset in a world with limitless potential. While debating confidence gaps, leaning in, or whether to ban words like “bossy,” there is no moment to contemplate what men do right that women may benefit from adopting. Men do not spend their days complaining about Photoshop or absurd standards of beauty even when faced with this, this, or this.

Women often find it easier to avoid building their own capacity and resort to establishing their value by tearing others down.

The time People Magazine did an expose of celebrities with bad skin, featuring Pitt, it went largely unnoticed by the male population. Despite this “real” moment, not one man took up the charge to gleefully thank Brad for his realness and honesty. Instead, they engage in this strange ritual of admiring those who have achieved or possess attributes they may desire.

Sometimes they even develop bro crushes on People’s sexist man of the year when they get to know an icon instead awaiting an unphotoshopped photo to calm themselves about their place in the world. Women who seek opportunity with the stunning amount of options that capitalism and western culture have provided might consider that men may have something to teach women.

The Wolf Pack Must Back Down for Women to Move Ahead

It’s depressing to watch women regress to redistributive tendencies instead of taking their own initiative to control what they can and let go of what they cannot. There is little value in worrying about what Cindy Crawford looks like, and men as a group seem to largely understand this. Women instead enforce the idea that only “good” woman is one who lowers her expectations to never exceed the lowest common denominator amongst the female population. Remember how a bad photo makes them “love” Crawford more.

Spending less time on envy and more on individual effort will close more gaps than seeking government intervention.

The desperate need to attack accomplished women because they may make other women feel bad about their own accomplishments is a predominately female trait at the crux of what holds women back from assuming a sane and equal partnership in society. Until women are capable of admiring and aspiring towards those who achieve more than they can at that moment, they will remain behind.

The wage gap is really the envy gap. Spending less time on envy and more on individual effort will close more gaps than seeking government intervention. The more one watches the faux congratulatory embrace by women of this photo of Crawford as “real,” the more obvious it becomes that it’s about those women feeling like they had to measure up and relishing the moment to take her down a peg. This redistributive end game has no winners and only serves to enforce the norm of average as acceptable. Telling women to not outshine anyone else lest they be cast out of female circles is doing more damage than an errant ‘bossy” comment.

If you want to work towards a more “equitable” society, consider admiring another woman who has aspirational attributes instead of hoping for a moment to tear her down. If women can’t spend time worrying about what is within their control instead of seeking to control others, they will continue to deserve to be paid less since they are demanding less of themselves and others.