It bothers me that this post even needs writing. But I recall all too well those years of high school on into young adulthood when my identity seemed so skewed and so hard to grasp. Most teenagers of any gender probably deal with this, and there are certainly social expectations for both girls AND boys, but I believe it’s particularly difficult for you young women because of all the mixed messages that are received from social experiences, pop culture, religion, parental teachings, school, etc:
Girls are told by the media that because their bodies are beautiful they deserve to be ogled at, and they are there to fulfill the desires of men. They are told that sexy is ideal, prude is bad, they must be pretty, they must be happy because that’s how they will gain male admiration.
Girls are told in the religious sphere that their bodies ought to be covered up as a means to preserve the sanctity of male thoughts. They are told that sexy is bad, prude is good, they must be pure, they must be calm because that’s how they will attract the right kind of men.
Girls are told in social situations that being bold and assertive is overbearing, and that being smart is being a know-it-all. They are told that sexy is trashy, prude is boring, they should be understanding but not a doormat, they should be independent but not “wear the pants”, they should achieve but not become too powerful.
It feels a little bit like this
How is a girl to find herself when she is constantly surrounded by people and institutions not only attempting to tell her who she “should” be, but giving her impossible standards to live up to? And how is a young woman to begin to understand how to value herself as an independent being when all the messages she is receiving are centered around securing a relationship?
This is the big chore for young women and those who support young women. And I want to attempt to break down some of the confusion by helping you girls understand what the requirements are to be considered fully and completely a ‘woman’.
First, let’s look at the definition of ‘woman’ by dictionary.com:
Woman: “the female human being.”
Don’t get me wrong – that’s not “all” – there is so much more to being a woman. That’s simply the end of the restrictions, requirements, and limitations to being a woman. You simply have to be female.
You get to decide the rest.
YOU get to decide what characteristics you develop, what personality you have, what road you take, what kind of person you want to be, what career you pursue. And all of the options can make you an incredible woman.
So, girls, let’s change the conversation. Let’s forget the conversation everyone else is trying to have with us and start a new conversation. A better conversation. Instead of discussing all the qualities and attributes that women should have, or that are common to women, or that make women appealing, let’s discuss the myriad of amazing, unique, inspiring, and either orthodox or unorthodox ways there are to BE A WOMAN!
The sky is truly the limit! There is no “right” way to be a woman, there is no special formula to follow.
You can be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and be 100% woman
You can be a truck driver and be 100% woman
You can be a sexy cowgirl and be 100% woman
You can be a robe-donning religious leader and be 100% woman
You can be a stay-at-home mom with 10 kids and be 100% woman
You can live in a shack in Harlem and tutor inner-city kids and be 100% woman
You can be a police officer and be 100% woman
You can be a wife, mother, and entreprenuer and be 100% woman
You can be a hermit, lesbian, doctor, sailor, Christian, Atheist, Jew, American, Greek, or Russian and be 100% woman
You can be an Alaskan underwater basket weaver who enjoys Croquet and playing the kazoo and be 100% woman
Do you see the the great power you have?
I’ve done a fair amount of world travel in my lifetime (actually, by today’s standards it may not be considered “a lot”, but it was for my generation!), and I have met amazing women from all walks of life that were kind, endearing, bold, courageous, assertive, practical, sweet, skillful, artful, giving, demanding, merciful, just…. And any other adjective you can think of! All of these qualities are good and all of these qualities are accessible to you. Simply find the ones that come most naturally and build on them.
You’re allowed to do that. You’re allowed to be the person your heart tells you to be. You’re allowed to follow your own path. You’re allowed decide to be a person that others don’t like, or agree with, or support, or that others love, cherish, admire, and envy. Because if you simply work to become more YOU every day – the REAL YOU – you will always feel connected to the world around you, and you will always feel fulfilled in the path you choose to take.
Others will tell you who they think you are supposed to be. Believe you me, people love to control the world around them and construct organized containers to fit people into because it helps them feel more in control of their lives. You don’t need to function within that paradigm. The world isn’t meant to be controlled or even fully understood. Have faith in yourself and take the steps forward that feel right, moral, and most beneficial to you, and you will end up on the right road.
You wonderful girls are so loved. You are so appreciated. You are so NECESSARY. We need you. The real you. We know you are strong. We know you are wise. You will find your way.
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