Most days it seems that no matter what a woman does, she just does not measure up to what society demands of her. There is just so much pressure for women to look a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and behave a certain way. This is reinforced a million times a day via television, magazines, radio, billboards, religion, parents, friends and colleagues.
There is very little room for deviation from the specified way and even when a woman has done everything expected of her, she is still ridiculed. If she doesn’t dress feminine enough something is wrong with her and she is told she “will never get a man like that.” If she dresses more feminine, she is a slut. If she dresses more conservatively, she is a prude. If she decides to be independent and not marry, she is selfish and only cares about herself. If she decides to be a stay at home mom/wife, then she is “just a dumb housewife.”
There simply comes a point in every woman’s life when she decides that she just does not care what others think anymore. This usually happens after she has done everything society has expected of her and she has realised they will never be happy regardless of how much she tries to please them—or she just decides to stop pleasing everyone else and start pleasing herself.
It is at this point in a woman’s life that she takes control. She decides that she is now the one behind the steering wheel and this bus is going where SHE wants it to go for a change. That is not to say she leaves behind the ones she loves and who love her. It just means she is going to live life on her own terms from now on.
It is a remarkable thing to watch a woman go through this metamorphosis. It is like watching a flower bloom or the sunrise in the morning sky. No, it is even more amazing. There is simply nothing comparable to a woman who discovers her own mind and chooses to use it.
Here is a quote by Steve Maraboli that says it wonderfully: “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
If this is true, if women who are comfortable in their own skin are so beautiful, why are we so hard on women when they choose to define their own destiny? It is one thing to have the male-controlled media hypersexualise and objectify women; it is not excusable—far from it—but men do not have a clue what it is like to live as a woman in this world. On the other hand, even women tear women down and sometimes even worse than men. Mothers do it to their daughters; sisters do it to their sisters; friends do it to their friends. If we see a woman step outside of the narrowly-defined lines set out for us, we have no problem cutting that woman down until she feels so small she has no choice but to stay inside the lines.
As women, we should applaud other women who are daring enough to test the waters outside of the norm. We should encourage our Sisters to explore every part of themselves, their intellect and their world. It should not be an anomaly to come across a female astronaut or cricket player.
So long as we put our little girls in pretty dresses and tell them not to get dirty while their brothers play in the dirt and explore their world, women will continue to grow up thinking they are to sit pretty when they should be climbing the tallest mountain and discovering the cure for cancer.
It is time to set women free to be themselves. It is time for women to be whom they truly are deep down instead of what they have been told they must be. That woman deep inside is far more spectacular than anything produced by the confined feminine roles constantly being pushed at women from every direction. How else will the human race ever reach its full potential if half of the species’ population is held back from their full potential?
Sisters, it is time to let each other be the women we truly are inside. Instead of judging our Sisters for not measuring up to the confining standards pushed on us, let’s give each other all of the encouragement and support needed to follow our dreams. Let’s find ways to help the women around us soar to new heights instead of tearing them down to feel like nothing.
Yes, there is a time to fight the patriarchal ideals that have so poorly fashioned our world, but first and foremost, the change must start with us. How can we expect men to treat women with due respect when women cannot even treat women with respect?
Urge every woman around you to be unapologetically herself. When she shies away from what makes her unique and special because she has been moulded that way, speak up and tell her how beautiful it is when she allows herself to be who she truly is inside.
And while you are at it, tell yourself the same thing. Be unapologetically yourself!
Contact Stella Ramsaroop at stellasays@ gmail.com