Is it just me or are there double standards at work in the lives of women every day? Enough to drive you crazy! Alright, I’m sure there are some double standards at work in the lives of men as well. But I’m not a man, and I can’t speak with authority on what those might be. Though I welcome any man to share with me what some of those double standards might be in the comment section below. If I’m anything I’m fair and I’m genuinely interested in what’s going on in the world of men and how that affects our actions and relationships.
For now, I’m going to focus on what we as women experience. A woman feels like she is expected to be all things. We are bombarded from every direction with images and definitions of what it means to be a woman. Most of us live with an exhausting “Super Woman” complex. That’s not to say we think we are so amazing that we and we alone are the ultimate super woman. Oh contraire! It means instead that we are pushing ourselves in every aspect of our lives, trying to live up to the super woman image. We strive to be everything to everyone. Good mothers, wives, lovers, friends and daughters. We receive conflicting messages at every turn. Working mothers feel tremendous guilt for the time they spend away from their children, yet also receive messages that independent working women are desirable, respected, sexy, and basically a requirement for being a modern woman. Career women who choose not to have children are made to feel like something is wrong with them if they don’t choose a family. Women receive messages through books and movies and advertising on a daily basis that define the ideal women. The ideal woman is very attractive, she’s slender, she’s well dressed, she effortlessly juggles her demanding career, while she shuffles children from soccer and dance practice, is a classroom mother, den leader, and community volunteer . She keeps a well decorated, clean and organized home, that runs with military precision while feeling warm and inviting and charming all at the same time. She plans the meals, shops for the household, creates and manages the budgets, and tracks everyone’s schedules, while making sure no mittens, backpacks, ties, or ipads go missing. She cooks and she bakes. She takes care of her parents and is always there for her friends. She plans the parties and buys the perfect gifts. All this and she never looks frazzled. Millions of dollars a year are spent in the cosmetic industry by women trying to hide fine lines and dark circles, to grow luscious shiny hair, and sleek nails, have silky soft glowing skin and plump lips and smell irresistible. And there are many who ignore the risks to go under the knife to enlarge breast, stretch skin, remove cellulite, reshape body parts, reduce here and plump there. Tanning industries, eyelash extensions, colored contacts, push up bras, waist minimizers, killer shoes that literally kill the feet. We are to be June Cleaver in the home and Hustler porn fantasy in the bedroom.
Do we make this stuff up in our heads? Do we imagine a standard that doesn’t really exist? The sad answer is no. We arrived at this superwoman complex because we have been spoon fed it’s image and it’s requirements for decades. While a women’s moment freed us and caged us all at the same time for a lifetime of internal conflict. The bottom line, we can’t win for losing because regardless of how fantastic we become, we are losing ourselves. Losing the ability to be real women in all of our fabulous mystical, sensual, compassionate glory. Forever trying to be more. Losing it because we don’t believe in it, don’t accept it as enough, or because we are just too damned exhausted to recognize what we are selling out to. And.. because our mates, our partners in life, our husbands and lovers have already put down their money on the image of perfection and we all know that when we fail to measure up we risk rejection or possibly even abandonment. At the very least, we risk them taking their affections and their sexual desires to another, better super woman.
It’s bad enough that we drive ourselves through this insanity but the contradictions can be both painful and infuriating. Men desire cover girls. Pin ups. They want all of that perfection and yet they criticize how long we spend in the bathroom or how much money we spend on “tools”. They buy into the fantasy that what they see is real and effortless. They fail to understand that the models they get hard over have been air spray tanned and airbrushed for perfection. That photos of even the most naturally beautiful women are altered and perfected to standards that fewer than 2% of all women can meet. That those women forbid themselves to eat and spend 10 or more hours a week with fitness trainers. Is that beauty obtainable? Of course it is. For some, and…if you wish to dedicate your life to it full time. Models can afford to do that. It’s their job. And while the end product is still a fantasy and more perfect than they truly are in real life, men simply buy into the illusion that perfect women are everywhere and somewhere there is a perfect woman who longs to meet and adore HIM. Ok maybe not a model perfect woman, but surely a better woman than he has right now or has had in the past. Every man looks, every man dreams, every man desires multiple women and every man wonders how much better he can get than what he’s got, whether he admits it or not. Whether he pursues it or not, everyman is constantly comparing his woman to the “image”. Comparing her when he silently notes that he hair seems a little frizzy and doesn’t shine like those commercials on TV. When her 40 year old hair doesn’t seem as vibrant and sexy as the 18 year old blonde at the convenience store on the corner. When he sighs to himself that he didn’t get lucky enough to find a women with larger breasts like John at work did and makes a mental note that his wife has put on some weight. When in the middle of a good Sunday afternoon of sharing yard work she bends over and he frowns slightly at the sight of her newly appearing cellulite. Men refuse to admit how much they are constantly evaluating us in their minds eye against the fantasy they dream of. What man understands the amount of time per week it takes for hair conditioning, shaving and waxing, pedicures and manicures, facials and exfoliation? Not to mention the absurd prices we have to pay for these procedures and supplies because the industry knows we have no choice but to pay. We want to look good, we want to fill that bill of perfection or we risk…..well, you all know what we risk. Not being enough.
And through all of this, men surely have their challenges and their self image problems I”m sure. And yet who doesn’t know a middle aged, balding, graying, skin starting to wrinkle a bit, tummy starting to protrude a bit, slouching, less than teeth, not all together that interesting man who is certain he is worthy of attracting himself that dream girl centerfold who is beautiful, talented, interesting, and will utterly rock his world?
Now tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a weeeee bit of a double standard? If you’re a woman who’s found my blog, tell me if I am alone in this? If you’re a man, give us your side of the story.
If by chance you have labeled me insecure and bitter. The kind of wallflower woman that is rarely noticed and had never achieved an ounce of success. You would be slightly off mark. Yes, I have somehow without knowing when or how been trapped in the superwoman battle of trying to be all things. I am forever pressing myself to be organized, to keep a perfect home, to be an even better parent, better friend, better person. To take on MORE.
I am very successful in my career. I’m told I’m beautiful and sensual. I don’t spend thousands of dollars on spa treatments or surgery but like most women I do buy wrinkle prevention creams and some makeup in moderation. I rarely find time for a visit to the manicurist but that doesn’t stop me from spending way too much time trying to maintain a clean and well groomed set of attractive nails and toes. I’m not your high maintenance or pretentious kind of girl. I don’t buy into false lashes and push up bras. I like myself. Small tits and all. Ok, so I hate my legs. Most women do! I still strive to maintain glowing skin and silky hair, smooth legs, and dewy complexion. I’m a realist. I accept aging, yet I also know that the world doesn’t accept it very well and neither does my man. Even the most practical and secure of us women cannot avoid the trap of feeling a need to be superwoman, whether we are conscious of it on a daily basis or not. Most of us simply tell ourselves that all we are doing is being the most we can be. For ourselves and for those we love. Being a good wife, a good mother, etc. We just want to be good. To be enough. To be more than enough. We are already too far down that road when we realize that the expectations we have set for ourselves are not healthy or sane. That doing the best we can is enough and beating ourselves up for every shortcoming is wrong. We are already too far down the road when we have already seen the expectations and the hope in our mates eyes when he looks at us. And… when he doesn’t think we see him looking at others.
If you have encountered the alien land of infidelity then you know as a woman that part of the pain is the feeling that you were not enough. That you gave so much, worked so hard, tried so tirelessly….and he couldn’t see you through the fantasy and thrill he seen in his head. There is a kind of deep wound felt with that realization that will at first devastate you and make you question yourself on every level. But, if you are secure enough to know it’s a lie. That you are enough! Then devastation will soon evolve into brewing infuriation. I guess what I am saying is, that it’s really the injustice of it all that’s sometimes hardest to move past.