While perusing a popular women’s magazine the other day, I came upon an article exploring the role of women today and society’s expectations of us, if any. The author recounted a conversation she’d had with a friend over tacos. Apparently, after she’d finished eating her admittedly oversized burrito, her companion said something like, “Wow, I’ve never seen a girl finish off an entire one of those before.”
This comment threw the female writer into a downward spiral of indignity. In her article, she posed questions regarding women’s perceived expectations, the typical “bad if you do, bad if you don’t” scenario. She spoke of heels vs. flats, short skirts, too heavy vs. too thin, and how women are basically shamed no matter what they choose to do. If you want to be a housewife, you’re shamed for not wanting a career. If you want to forego marriage in favor of a career, you’re shamed for not wanting to settle down.
While reading this article a surge of anger flowed through me, not at the implied injustice of society’s expectations, but at the fact that an innocent comment by a friend could trigger such an impassioned and deep-seated sense of powerlessness within a human being.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s what makes our country so great. Maybe instead of obsessing over people’s mindless comments on our behavior, we should focus on living our lives according to our own set of values. I’m not saying this is by any means an easy task, but it’s the only way to find true happiness.
I offer all young adult women (including myself) the following advice:
1) You’re a woman, and being a woman is great! Why would you ever want to hide that? Just to disprove other people’s preconceived notions? You’re not responsible for the entire world’s view of femininity. That’s too heavy a load for any of us to carry.
2) Everyone has an opinion about everything, including you and me. While we should respect everyone’s right to their own opinion, living your life and making choices based on what they may or may not think of you is a true waste of a life. People will think what they think, and there’s truly nothing you can do about it. So wear those heels or wear flats… as long as it’s what you want, not what you think other people expect.
3) Maybe when someone comments on your eating prowess, or the height of your heels, or the length of your hair, they’re simply making a comment. Most people never mean to hurt someone’s feelings, or belittle them. They were just making an observation. On the rare instance in which someone is actually trying to push your buttons, it reflects negatively on them, not you. If someone is so miserable that they need to point out something in a derogatory manner in order to shame you, then maybe that person isn’t worth your time.
The bottom line is, we all need stop trying to control people’s perceptions and just live. We should live the exact way we want to live. Whether that means fitting into traditional gender roles or not.
Just do what you want! Be brave, be you. Bake a pie, wear a fluffy skirt, join the military, stop wearing make-up, get some thigh-high boots, build a bookcase… None of these choices make you more or less of a woman. They make you uniquely you. (mic drop)