Kim Kardashian West has told how she was left in tears after being compared with Kate Middleton while she was pregnant with her first child North.
The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star and the Duchess of Cambridge both gave birth in summer 2013, and Kim says media comparisons between herself and the royal knocked her confidence.
“It was really, really crazy,” Kardashian West said during an appearance on the We Are Supported By podcast. “They would always compare me to Kate Middleton so it would say ‘Kate the waif and Kim the whale, the waif versus the whale’.
“It was so nasty. I don’t think that would really fly today, but it killed my self-esteem. I really can’t believe that this was acceptable and that this was OK.”
Kardashian West, who said she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia while pregnant, leading to swelling in her face and feet, was upset by the comparisons made by others – but we often do it to ourselves, too.
In the age of social media, comparison culture – aka our compulsion to compare our lives to those around us – is all too easy to do on a daily basis, but it can have a damaging impact on our wellbeing.
With experts warning that it can contribute to a range of mental health problems like anxiety and depression, here are some reasons to keep the urge to compare under control…
1. It damages your sense of identity
Our little quirks and idiosyncrasies are what make us unique and special. Experts say that attempting to mimic someone else’s life, whether copying their clothing or replicating their career, will only lead to self-doubt and an unhealthy sense of identity.
Bea Arthur, CEO of therapy platform The Difference, has a TEDx Talk on the subject called The Culture Of Comparison, which has been watched over 52,000 times. In the talk, she explains: “The culture of comparison causes you to grade your choices against the choices of others.
“I can tell you that nothing else in this world will make you more confused and paralysed than basing your own opinions and choices on those of other people.”
2. It can make you feel like you’re failing
Constantly comparing yourself to others’ lives, their social circles, their outfits and even where they go on holiday can all contribute to feelings of underachievement, says David Brudö, CEO and co-founder of mental wellbeing and self-development platform Remente.
“This is because of the tremendous pressure individuals can feel about the way that others see them,” he says.
“Inherently, we all have a critical voice which tells us to improve, to strive for better things and to achieve. While this voice is normal, and even healthy, when fuelled by social media it can spiral out of control.”
Brudö says that while we want others to see us in the best possible light, we should take social media with a pinch of salt. “What we fail to realise is that the images we see from others are all the end result of the same manipulations and the same impulse towards perfection. The constant comparison will inevitably lead to feelings of underachievement.”
3. It won’t help you to achieve your goals
It’s really easy to get stuck in a cycle of questioning why you haven’t achieved the same things as your peers, without stopping to really ask yourself if it’s what you really want.
The concern about whether you’re ‘doing life wrong’ can quickly derail you from focusing on achieving your authentic goals, whether that’s travelling the world or settling down to have a family.
“Browsing websites like Facebook and Instagram and observing other people’s lives can trigger feelings of exclusion and loneliness, or FOMO,” explains Brudö.
“Seeing images of people doing fun activities, going on business trips or going to parties can make individuals ask questions like ‘Why am I not doing this? Why am I not achieving the same things?’ All of which can then lead to a negative perception of your life and unnecessary feelings of guilt.”
Unplugging from the anxiety
Taking a break from social media for my mental health. I’ll see y’all in 15 minutes
— ㄣ⃒Prętty ₆⁶₆Fłvçkøㄣ⃒ (@PrimitiveMob) August 9, 2021
If you want to beat comparison culture for good, Brudö recommends taking a social media hiatus.
“Try deleting apps from your phone and see if that will decrease the amount of negative thoughts that you have. Instead of checking social media and comparing your life to those of others, try taking physical control – go for a walk, grab a book or even distract yourself with a game on your phone.
“Additionally, try spending less time on your posts,” he adds. “You don’t need to dedicate hours to changing filters or re-phrasing a tweet, when instead you could be living your life to the full. Use social media on a reward basis, only posting something once you’ve achieved all of your tasks for the day.”
Lastly, he says to keep things in perspective. “Your Facebook or Instagram feed only shows the highlights of someone’s life, not the full reality. No one wants to share bad photos of themselves, or write a post about a missed deadline at work. What you see is carefully chosen and curated, not reflective of reality. “