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Do You Believe the Myth of the Ideal Woman?

Do You Believe the Myth of the Ideal Woman?

May 12, 2015

A girlfriend asked me to share some of my insights on womanhood and the various roles women assume these days. 

To answer simply, it’s no secret that woman have entered the workforce and are no longer staying at home full time to raise their kids. Nannies have become more of a norm these days than they were even 15 years ago when I had my first child. Pressures are higher. Lifestyles are faster. 

It’s a constant juggling act because we’re expected to be supermoms 24/7.  

But I have a hunch that her question goes deeper than that.

What about unmarried women in their 40s? Is there a stigma attached to that?

Back when women were commonly homemakers, their entire existence centered on caring for their families. When you take that away, what happens? These days, some women choose to be single, and some are single, but not by choice. It is becoming more and more common for women to establish their careers before they have children, which means women are having children later in life or not at all. With the rise of infertility due to increased maternal age and stress levels, some women may not be able to have children at all.

When you throw in the complexity of finding the right mate into that mix, with the divorce rates being what they are these days, no wonder it’s a real challenge for women to build traditional families.

Do you define womanhood by marriage, motherhood, and familial responsibilities?

Much too often, the media portray the happy woman as one who runs her life behind her dream home with the perfect partner, the well-behaved children, the luxurious family vacations, and the high-end job. A woman’s worth is measured by how much she can juggle. The more balls she keeps in the air, the higher she ranks on the perfection scale.

Fortunately, we live in a time where it is possible for women to lead lives that feel true to them, and that is a real blessing. However, having said all that, is it fair to then imply that women who don’t meet the standards set by the media or society are less valuable than the myth of the “ideal” woman?

Many of my single friends who don’t want to be single and who want children experience a wide range of emotions as they compare themselves to the “ideal” woman society has created.

They feel low, as if they are missing out on life. They feel sub-par, and they are tired of the constant pressures by parents, and extended family members to get married or to have children. They envy their friends who seem to have it all.

It’s often the case of “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. And it’s upsetting if you don’t echo their sentiments. I tell them things are not always what they seem, but they don’t believe me. I explain that, every life comes with its own challenges, and ultimately, it boils down to your mind set. It is about how you react to things in life that feel out of your control. It is about the positive twist you place on what you perceive as negativity.

And it’s about changing what IS in your control.  

Here’s a reminder for my single friends and friends without families of your own: Your femininity, womanhood, and strength lie in your inner beauty, your smarts, your authenticity, and your kindness. Who you are and the mark you make on this world have nothing to do with your ability to find a lasting partner, to have children, or to raise a family.

I firmly believe each of us has a role to play during our lives. Our purpose is to use our unique gifts. It is your uniqueness that sets out your path in this lifetime. Don’t fight it by allowing society’s arbitrary rules define your happiness.

Instead, open up and listen to your inner voice; it will lead you to where you are most needed in this world. Take comfort in knowing that you are here to serve a purpose with your special gifts and spend your energy exploring the goodness that is within you.

Poet Maya Angelou said it best:

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

― Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women
As for the rest of us, the next time you sit down for a chat with your single girlfriend, pause before you ask her whether she has a new man in her life (for the 100th time) or when she is going to have babies. Chances are, these thoughts keep her awake at night, and if she wanted to share it with you, she would have.

Instead, ask her about what’s new and good in her life. Her response may surprise you.

Limiting thoughts like this torment women every day. The truth is, your suffering is so unnecessary. Do you need a fresh perspective from an ally you can trust? Contact me and we can discuss how Whole Self Coaching can help. Click here to set up a FREE 30-minute call.

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