“Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on me, no man asks for”
Lyrics from the song by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury.
From the day a girl child is born the pressure begins.
There is pressure to be cute, no matter the mood you are in. People are a lot more forgiving when boys throw tantrums. They will often smile indulgently and simply say, “boys will be boys.”
I can’t ever recall hearing, “girls will be girls.”
As we grow from toddler to little girl the pressure intensifies. There’s the constant judging when you aren’t girly enough. There are people who have no problem telling you that you’re ugly if they deem you not pretty enough or that you’re fat if you aren’t thin enough or too thin if you seem too skinny.
We are judged on our looks before we are even aware of what looks are. But if we are told we are pretty then we are insulted by being told that we need brains as well. As if having beauty and brains is an impossibility.
All through our years at school, we are under pressure to be popular but not too popular because everyone knows what popular girls do. At the same time, we are told that we need to get good grades and so we work hard to get it. At home, we are told to learn about cooking and cleaning while our brothers are playing X box games but when we slack off, we are told we’re lazy and no one likes lazy.
Those final years at school are the worst because there is no time to find yourself. There’s school, homework, household chores, the pressure to be thin, the pressure to be popular, the pressure to be one of the “cool” kids and pressure to at least have some boys after you because if you don’t there must be something wrong with you. Throw-in hormonal changes just to keep the pressure going then don’t forget to keep safe in our violent world because gender-based violence is at an all-time high.
We are like puppets with invisible strings being pulled in different directions to make us acceptable in a world that judged us from the moment we drew our first independent breath.
There’s the pressure to get married to stay single and to have children or not to have children depending on which people you are talking to. Should you decide to have children the pressure is on to be the perfect mom, get your pre-pregnancy body back, maintain a high-powered job, satisfy your partner and keep a clean house.
Often the pressure doesn’t diminish during holidays because there’s even pressure just to unwind and if you struggle to unwind on holiday then there is something wrong with you.
When did our pleasure at being alive become pressure to stay alive and well and capable? When did women become the almost superhumans that’s meant to do all the above and save the world with one sweep of our right hand?
Can we stop society’s ridiculous expectations of us and realize that we are society and only we can stop this madness?
Can we breathe, release all the pent-up pressure that we are constantly under and just give ourselves several pats on the back?
Perfection does not exist only the pressure to be perfect does. Embrace the less than perfect mom, wife, friend, daughter and so on that you are and let the world see you as you are meant to be.
Perfect in your imperfections.