Who is she? I can recall spending the majority of my adolescence trying to find her. Trying to find “it” -- what was it that drove  me to constantly try to live up to her standards? I was on a never ending journey, to become that  girl that everyone wanted.

While trying to find “it” I failed to realize I was really searching for myself.  The more I chased “it” the further I drifted away from who I was  and before I could realize it, I was lost. She was visibly beautiful, the ideal girl and she fit, literally and figuratively,  into what men and women would have found desirable. She wore her beauty on her sleeve, which is unfortunate, because she spent a great deal of time trying to preserve what was on the outside. And while her looks faded, as they tend to do over a period of time, so did everything else that made her seem so interesting.

The “it... girl” for many women, was created by societal desires and overtime has birthed an illusion of what real beauty is. Making us believe that we are so far away from that illusive ideal. In other words, sometimes she can be the girl that you wished would  look back at you, while you looked at yourself in the mirror. The relationship that we have with ourselves can be distorted and strained because of this fake ideal. Messing with our perception of self. A self that needs to be comfortable in the skin she was given, allowing her to cultivate and accept who she truly is.  

One of my favorite films is Mean Girls (2004) directed by Mark Waters and written by Tina Fey. The movie  is based on the novel titled Queen Bees and Wannabes (2002) written by Rosalind Wiseman. In the film one of the main characters is the beloved Regina George. Regina is the all around “it girl” -- she is the definition of what it means to be popular in highschool. In reality, she represents a very real character that I’m sure we’ve all dealt with one time or the other. You can find her at the top of the social hierarchy. And like Lindsay Lohan’s character in the film- Cady, we seem to find ourselves wanting to be like her, despite disliking what she stands for.

In my own high school I remember how when I felt good about myself or confident in how I looked, she would come around and suddenly I’d be full of self-doubt. I also know that a compliment from her made me feel utterly special. Her power over my own validation is now evident, but I didn’t understand this until I gained some much needed self-awareness. Being an “it girl” (at any age) is alluring, trust me I know.  

Often I feel this unspoken competition between women who find each other to be beautiful. But if we continue to compare ourselves to our fellow woman’s exterior, it will continue to determine how we feel about ourselves. And not in a good way.

We have somehow tricked ourselves into believing  that we are each others worst enemies. As girls we have felt empowered by hurting one another and making each other feel bad about ourselves. Catty behavior really messes us up in the long-run and I hope that by now this is obvious.

The “it girl” is powerful because we give her power over us, whether as teens or adults. Understanding that we each possess “it” - that magical thing that signals to the world that we have walked into a room and stolen two seconds of someone's’ breath - is beautiful. Looking for validation in each other is normal, after all we’re human. All the times I tore someone down to feel good about myself, were the times when I was the most insecure and alone. And rather than use my power to uplift other women, I felt the need to mistreat them, as if society has not done a good job at that already. For this I apologize.

Tracing back the lineage of friendships that I have been in has led me to an intricate pattern. None of them have seemed to last. Instead of harvesting real relationships I had mastered to change myself in order to keep these friendships alive. All  for the sake of fitting in. So that I too would be able to have a seat at the popular table. 

Admitting this outloud is not the easiest thing. But I know there’s readers out there who understand the battle of self-love and acceptance. I am a work in progress, no longer interested in giving this illusional girl any power over me. I’d rather live in my truth and build the best version of myself.

-Kanika Pennie, no longer the wannabe

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