Rivalry is an inherent part of human nature as we know it. Competition between two individuals or factions for the same objective, or for superiority in the same field, has been a part of the fabric of the human condition for time immemorial.
We all want something someone else has, be it a fancy gaff, a ridey member of the opposite sex, an Olympic medal, a bit of the Middle East, a premier league fourth place; yiz get the picture.
Rivalry drives competition and achievement but also acrimony and bitterness, however, over the course human history, there has been no rivalry that induces such venom, such passive aggressive spite and eye-watering geebaggery, as the one between two members of my own fair sex who are simultaneously trying to shrink their waistline.
Now hold your fire with the anti-feminist grenades and allow me some license as a hyperbolic satirist; but satire aside, the honest among you will hear a cerebral bell clanging like Christchurch on NYE as the grain of familiar truth shines forth like a nugget of polished gold on a pebble beach.
We love our girl friends, loyally, fiercely and unconditionally, but just so long as they stay about three to seven pounds north of our own current weight.
Let’s take two gal pals, we’ll call them Mags and Triona*, who decide to embark on a simultaneous crusade to become beach-ready in advance of a cheeky girly week in Santa Ponza in May.
*Both of these eejits may be/definitely are, based entirely on this writer
They hit the gym and spend most of their time twiddling with the buttons on the cross trainer and talking about how Mags has a pain in her hole finishing her soon-to-be-due PhD, and how Triona’s wondering why Barry from accounts won’t text her back after she sent him five whatsapps in a row the morning after they rode each other.
Naturally this leads our intrepid weight warriors to achieve an activity level similar to that of the Easter Island Moai Statues.
They do so little exercise that their calories earn interest while they’re sitting around waiting in vain to be burned off.
The girls leave the gym in harmonious unison, secretly safe in the knowledge that neither of them did anything worthy of note to give the other the mass-reduction advantage.
A week later, at their Weight Watchers weigh in, Mags has lost a mere pound, whilst Triona has lost 4 – (Unbenknownst to Mags, Triona had spent the week secretly subsisting by eating teaspoons of crushed up Ryvita and snorting lines of protein powder).
Mags’ eyes freeze over to a clear glaze.
She forces her face into a contrived smile of congratulation that hurts her cheeks like they’re being held apart by a pair of pliers on either side.
“Oh my gooood, that’s deeeeadly, I’m deliiiighted for ya”, she says through clenched teeth.
Inside Triona’s mind, her Rationale, who has been beaten to a pulp by Jealousy, pipes up, “why are you being such an unmerciful bitch?”, only to be sucker punched again by the army-fatigue-wearing Jealousy who’s temporarily taken over the controls.
“Oh yeah, thanks babes, sure you did well too” says Triona, but inside she’s dancing a victory dance and grimacing her face into a smug smile like Mrs Doyle after she correctly guessed Todd Unctious’ name in the Father Ted Christmas Special.
On the way home in the car Triona reaches into the backseat and pulls out a multi-pack of Moros, “Here babes, you might want these, I’ve no use for them anymore.”
Mags vows to spike Triona’s soy latte with goose fat in the morning.
Yes i’ll admit, dramatic effect may have been employed for this reconstruction but the fact remains the same; there’s a rarely-admit-to seam of physically-aesthetic Schadenfreude that underwrites any shared attempt at body improvement within our seemingly gentle gender.
It’s no secret that us motsers are our own worst critics.
Easons would close in the morning were it not for the shiny covers of the innumerable vacuous publications that “out” whatever poor unfortunate has fallen foul of the paparazzo’s lens during that week.
“Bin the scales and love your body” one feature may claim while quite literally the same magazine will contain the “Ultimate Drop-A-Dress-Size Pre-Holiday Meal Plan”.
A feigned invitation for us to be comfortable in our skins but then a little reminder that we’re disgusting as we are and must conform to the pre-ordained societal ideal.
And far from us rejecting such utter bilge, this periodic tripe is devoured en masse. Rainforests shudder at the mere mention of Heat, Now, New and all the other monosyllabically titled publications purporting to be in favour of all things female while in actuality preying on both our insecurity and our secret, shameful pleasure in seeing others fail at looking nice.
I mean, ask my arse, it’s enough to drive you to the jambons.