In the hearts of women and men everywhere, there lies the myth of the perfect woman. She is beautiful, put together, and does it all. We think we see glimpses of her–When Martha Stewart displays the perfect meal. When a mom drops her kid off at school, looking completely unruffled with flawless make up, as if every morning is a breeze. Or when we see a women at the grocery store, in her “after the gym” attire,” yet it doesn’t look like she even broke a sweat and she has a body that makes you think she doesn’t even need the gym.
We see glimpses in TV ads and shows, that tell us “she’s out there, you just have to change these twenty things about you, and you will be just like her.”
From the time we received our first Barbie doll, we have been bombarded with the image of the perfect women, making us believe she exists. But have you ever noticed that this perfect woman–who doesn’t have PMS, mood swings, or insecurities–also doesn’t have a voice?
The women who portray her on TV, are only following a script and rarely does it reveal the true heart of a woman. The media, our society, and even the organized church have given us one dimensional views–though different–of what a woman can be, do or care about. Rarely do they truly speak to the complexities that we face in the world and inside of ourselves.
So often, I hear the phrase that women want to “have it all.” It is thrown around as if we are selfish, driven, myopic beings. Some of us are, yet the majority of us just want to be able to share with the world all that is inside of us. Some of us want to use our talents and abilities in the business world. Others of us want to take on the heroic task of nurturing children by being mothers. Some of us want both. We are artists, leaders, teachers, ministers, businesswomen, writers, etc.–who are trying to give life to what is inside of us, while also trying to live up to the cultural expectations that we should become the mythical “perfect woman.”
In her article, Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect, the president of Barnard College, Debora Spar writes:
“…we are laboring…under a double whammy of impossible expectations—the old-fashioned ones (to be good mothers and wives, impeccable housekeepers and blushing brides) and those wrought more recently (to be athletic, strong, sexually versatile, and wholly independent). The result? We have become a generation desperate to be perfect wives, mothers, and professionals—Tiger Moms who prepare organic quinoa each evening after waltzing home from the IPO in our Manolo Blahnik heels. Even worse, we somehow believe that we need to do all of this at once, and without any help.”
So, what do we do as women who are being measured by–or measuring ourselves up to–this mythical creature? What do we do as women who have so much in our hearts that we are striving to make into a reality?
I believe, we need to start speaking.
We need to start using our voices to speak truth into the lies the mythical woman would have us believe. We need to begin living into our own skin and encouraging others to do the same. We need to start telling the world the truth about us women, rather than letting the world tell us who we are. And, we need to give each other permission to talk about when we have failed, because when we do, I am sure we will discover we are not alone.
I also believe, we need to let some things go.
Rather than trying to make all of our dreams become reality, we need to pick the most meaningful ones and seek to give them life. We need to accept that we aren’t humanly able to look like, be and do all that “perfect woman” image tells us is possible. Rather than trying to do it all, we need to be OK, when some things get dropped.
As much as we all would like to believe we are Superwoman, we are not. She is fiction, and we are reality.