I was talking with a family member just the other day about mothers and how we judge each others’ decisions when it comes to working or staying home, breastfeeding versus not breastfeeding and pretty much every other decision that we as women make when it comes to our kids. Why do we beat other women up for decisions they make about their own lives? I was made to feel like a bad mother for not breastfeeding my child by many women I ran across in classes, the hospital and in everyday life. Did they try and understand why my decision was what it was? No, I was just failing as a mother. Add to that that I have to work outside the home? Double whammy.
This is just an example of what we do to ourselves as women. I have watched the video for Pink’s song “F*cking Perfect” several times and it makes me cry at the end every time. This video really gets to me on a lot of levels – as a former teen girl still carrying some scars, as a grown woman and as a mother of a girl. The pressure to look, act and be a certain way as a girl/woman in this society is stifling and it seems to be getting worse. Girls are starving themselves, cutting themselves, basically torturing themselves just to “fit in” or make themselves feel better because they don’t measure up. But what does that even mean any more? The popular girls beat themselves up just as much as the "freaks" do, just for different reasons. It seems no one is perfect enough. Why do we do this? Why do we put this pressure on girls to be something they may not be? This is not to say boys don’t have pressure on them because they do. But the abuse that girls heap on themselves physically and mentally seems to be more severe.
Growing up, I always felt less than, that everyone was better, prettier, more popular than me. Why? I couldn’t tell you exactly. I was smart and I felt pretty confident in that – for a while. But then I deliberately lost a spelling bee on a simple word just to make another, more popular girl happy. Just so she wouldn’t ignore me and cut me out of her circle of friends. I used to get teased in junior high by these 2 boys and I finally got so mad that I hit one of them back, fighting back. I was yelled at by one of my favorite teachers, though she had to see the teasing I endured on a daily basis in her class. I learned I would be punished for defending myself, for standing up for myself so I very rarely have since.
This is pretty minor stuff compared to other girls, including my friends. But it has shaped me as a woman. One of the big reasons I went to therapy is because I never wanted to pass on these feelings to my daughter. I know some of these things are a normal part of all our lives. But I never want to pass down to sweet Madeline that she can’t do or be anything she wants. Dye your hair in high school? I can handle it. Become a cheerleader? I will be there to cheer you on. I just want her to be true to herself, to fly as high as she can, achieve all she is capable of. But do I expect her to be society’s view of perfect, whatever that entails? No, because she is already f*cking perfect, just as she is, to me.