Upon first meeting, I generally have a hard time liking women who seem to always have pretty hair. I find it difficult to be around ladies who are exceptionally fit or naturally thin. I roll my eyes when I stop by someone’s house unexpectedly and find it as clean as it is when she has invited me for coffee. I am intimidated by “women like that” because they are able to do things that seem impossible to me.

My husband and I have a scheduled fight once a year on the day of his office Christmas party. It only happens because of the pressure I put on myself to look as beautiful and put-together as the myriad of twentysomething interns who attend the party in all of their twentysomething glory. Let’s be clear here: I’m quite certain my husband wants nothing to do with these twentysomethings. He and I only fight because I am internally berating myself about how I think I look in comparison to them (like dog meat) and my self-hatred is spilling out onto him.

I think a lot of women feel this way. I know because I’ve bonded with plenty of women over our shared jealousy and dislike of the “perfect” moms. There are movies that clearly show that “perfect” moms are the enemy.

But here’s the thing . . . when I move in closer, circle around a table with, and listen to the “perfect” moms I hear their struggles, their hopes, and their fears are all similar to mine. I find, as Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem says, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

And yet, my gut still twists at the thought of being myself around the “perfect” ones. Because you see, the “perfect” ones hurt me once upon a time. They laughed and called me mean things. They used me for their own selfish gain. They belittled me. They judged and criticized me.

And now, I hold women with nice kitchens and pretty hair accountable for the bad behavior of children I knew years ago.

What sense does that make?

I mean, I can explain it. Somebody hurt me, so now when something reminds me of that person, my brain reacts with fear, and I protect myself by being a hater or giving a backhanded compliment or lumping anyone who has pretty hair into the “OK to hate” category.

Because I’m still hurt. Because I’m still afraid.

But being hurt and being afraid doesn’t make it OK to hate.

Because what if I had started this post with, “Upon first meeting, I generally have a hard time liking women who have thinning, gross hair. I find it difficult to be around ladies who are exceptionally fat or chunky. I roll my eyes when I stop by someone’s house unexpectedly and find it dirty and strewn with laundry. I am grossed out by “women like that” because they can’t seem to get it together.”

What if I had been hurt by women with thinning hair? It’s probably true. What if a fat woman had judged and criticized me? Guess what? A fat woman probably has. I’ve been around long enough to be hurt by all sorts of people. 

The only difference is that it isn’t socially acceptable to be grossed out by “women like that”. But for some reason, it’s socially acceptable to roll your eyes at your beautiful size 4 friend when she says she has a problem.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is hating someone for what’s on the outside is fearful and ignorant, no matter what label the world slaps on them. Beautiful, thin, perfect, ugly, fat, failure, black, white . . . 

We are all guilty of allowing our past hurts to shape our hates and fears, aren’t we?

And the only answer I know to stop the hate is forgiveness and love. The only answer I know is going through the process of forgiving those horrible actions that send our brains into a fear response. The only answer is to “love your enemies” like it says in Matthew 5:44.

The only answer is to train my brain to see the truth that we all need grace, patience, forgiveness, and love . . . all the time.

What if the answer is to start by loving my own worst enemy . . . myself? Because, the main reason I have a hard time with women who are thinner, prettier, more organized, etc. than I am is because I look at them and hate myself. So maybe if I speak to myself with grace, patience, forgiveness, and love, those things will spill over onto my husband and my kids, and I’ll become more like Jesus—and that matters way more than the size of my kitchen island.

Emily  Donehoo

Emily Donehoo is the lone female in a family of five, a former teacher, and an outdoor enthusiast. She's crazy about books, tacos, pizza, Jesus, and snuggles. You can read more of her writing on her blog