Fitting in to the World’s Ideals is TRASH!

Fitting In

I hardly ever write about this topic but I wanted to bring it up because I haven’t been feeling great about myself lately. Especially my appearance! And I’m sure I’m not the only one. As women, fitting in to the world’s ideals is freakin’ hard! But every day, the majority of us put on a brave face and head out the door. Why? Well, from my perspective, it’s because I know I have a purpose to serve.

The world’s ideals for women are many, but I want to focus on three – body image, being a working woman and choosing not to have children. These areas are some of the main reasons women are judged, why they might be looked down upon. If you go on social media, these topics are the focus of many posts. Not only by women, but by men too. Collectively, I think we need to change the concept of the world’s ideals and I’m hoping this post can start or propel that conversation.

Reflecting on Body Image

I’ve had my ups and downs with weight. I’ve been a size 6, then a size 2 and am now a size 10. I’m not proud of it, but honestly, sizes in women’s clothing is junk. That doesn’t help my poor outlook on my body image either. The world tells us we should all be tall and skinny, but that’s not real life. We have this unrealistic standards set for us and as a result, women have been objectified for YEARS! It devalues women and leads to so many bad things, including human trafficking.

But there’s other issues…

Diversity is not mainstream. Yes, I’m a white woman, but I do see the lack of representation in ads, in shows on TV and in movies. Traditional standards don’t include female bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities. Never mind our skin tones! I’ve always been told “If you don’t see yourself in your social media feed or on TV, then you can’t relate.” I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen a 4’10” woman on TV.

We feel the pressure to look younger the older we get and dying your hair every six weeks is the norm. No, thank you! If Andie McDowell, Hilarie Burton Morgan and Tia Mowry can go gray and look gorgeous, then I can too! And don’t get me started on the noise about diet and weight loss pills. Yes, I want to feel Fab Over 40 but I’m not going to exhaust myself to do so.

Ultimately companies have the goal of selling products and services. They’ve taught us that if we have something to “fix”, they can sell us a product to help us. We look at ourselves in the mirror, see an insecurity and immediately go buy a product to fix it. I’ve done it and I’m sure you have too. This negative outlook that we have our our body image impacts our physical and mental health in so many ways. I can definitely attest to it – anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, low self-esteem – you name it, I’ve got it. In 2018 I wrote a blog about body image I still try to do what’s mentioned to counteract these things.

Fitting in as Working Women

I work a lot but I like to work. Ever since I was a kid, I knew there was a bigger purpose for me to serve. While I didn’t know what that was then, I’m starting to figure that out now so that means working 10-12 hour days. A lot of people hate the fact that I work that much, but I love what I do. And that’s what matters, right?!

What Women Face Today

Today, even as I write this, the news about Caitlin Clark is coming out. She’s an awesome basketball player. One that made people watch women’s sports yet still, the gender pay gap is present. Women are earning less than men in almost every arena. Women’s sports isn’t the only place it’s obvious. Hollywood is another perfect examples. Actors that are male earn more than actors that are female regardless of the role or platform. This is everywhere and it’s horrific, in my opinion. The difference in wages is not just a financial problem, it also undermines the value of the contributions women bring to the table.

Despite the financial complications, women feel pressured to do it all. We learn early on that we’re supposed to go to college, get married, have a family, maintain a job, keep our homes looking magazine-ready and look amazing. How?! After I got married, I learned just how short maternity leave is. We’re expected to have a baby and come back to work, full time, just eight weeks after giving birth. That’s not fair to the mother or the child.

And even if women choose not to have children (I’ll get to this in a second), there’s still stereotyping that occurs. These can influence hiring, promotions and evaluations that take place. While it is becoming less of an issue, there are still areas where women are underrepresented – STEM, leadership roles… And if women are in these roles, sometimes there’s harassment and discrimination that comes with it.

Women have this double burden that can lead to stress, burnout and there’s a total conflict with it because you strive to meet the high standards set upon us. We don’t want to work in hostile or unsafe conditions. We just want to serve our purpose, with out the added and unnecessary mental and emotional strain.

Kid-Free Nation

Are you a part of this tribe? When I got married, it was part of the norm to immediately have children. My husband and I looked at it like a business decision, though, and we simply couldn’t afford to bring on a “team member”. Ultimately it ended up being the right decision for us. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for everyone. That being said, a lot of us get flack for choosing not to have children.

What Being Kid-Free Really Means

I see this group of women becoming larger and larger. Why? Well, probably a lot of reasons. The most important is that a woman’s sole purpose is not just to be a baby maker. But that decision is ultimately looked at as selfish or unnatural. Again… Why? Because the world believes that women are destined to produce the next group of humans to sustain our planet. Ummmm, seriously?! Yes! I’ve seen it said on social media, I can’t tell you how many times.

And the same people that say this, tell us that women will someday regret not jumping on the baby train. To that I ask you this…

  1. What about personal choice?
  2. What about personal fulfillment?
  3. What about individual happiness?

Do these things matter? Sadly, the world says no. Including the organizations that employ us. Many corporate environments see childless women as “more available” with the assumption they can work longer hours. While that might be true, it overlooks the opportunity for a balance between work and life. Yes, there really isn’t a balance but what ends up happening is that there is an unequal distribution of work hours. There’s a pressure to work more. I am a self-proclaimed workaholic, but only because I love what I do. And, I don’t have the responsibility of caring for children.

The sad part is, I’ve lost friends because of my choices. My friend group has changed over the years because I chose not to have children. I was slowly excluded from events like birthday parties because my friend thought I would think it was boring. Over time, that friendship stopped and ceased to have a life.

Final Thoughts…

Although this blog might seem like a total feminist rant, it’s not. I know women that are some of the brightest people on the planet. We are some of the most powerful creatures. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors and are strong, smart and courageous. Companies like Dove are taking the step against fitting into the world’s ideals it’s amazing to watch!

But here’s what I want to leave you with…

Our choices, are OUR CHOICES! If you’re a woman that thinks fitting in is the right way to live your life, then I challenge you to ask yourself why you feel that way. Explore what’s going on in and around you. If you feel like me, that fitting in was not the right path, you’ve found your people. Let’s break the mold and change how the world sees us.

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