Superwoman Mom = Supergirl Perfection Pressure

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by Tracee Sioux

Perfection – it’s the pervasive modern-day feminine Achilles heel and we’re passing it down to our daughters according to The Supergirl Dilemma a report about the pressure girls today are under.

Girls feel strong pressure to be perfect, look perfect and behave perfect all the time.

And I don’t feel this is something we can blame on men. When was the last time you heard a man exclaim, I can’t be perfect! I can’t be everything to everyone all the time! Um, Never.

No, this is not an external problem – it’s an internal feminine problem stemming from MOTHERS.

{{{{{Gasp}}}}} I said it.

To illustrate why I think so, here’s two quick references to mother’s preoccupation with perfection in our current feminine dialogue: Christine Fugate writes in the foreword of her new book, The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood Volume 1,

Over one hundred essays poured in from 26 states and four countries. Reading the essays shed light on the current state of the mom-mind. For example, the word ‘perfect’ (of a variation of it) was used over 92 times. That’s almost one ‘perfect’ for every mom. While I think the questioning of perfection is positive (although not every essay questioned it), the frequency shows that the desire to be ‘perfect’ continues to loom over our sense of identity.

In The Feminine Mistake, Leslie Bennetts writes,

All too many American women are in thrall to increasingly deranged ideals of perfection. We live in a culture that constantly exhorts us to improve ourselves – and that assumes the perfectibility of virtually everything. If you don’t like your nose, get a nose job! If you don’t like the color of your hair, dye it! If your thighs are lumpy have liposuction! If you want abs of steel, go to the gym! Personal maintenance has become a national obsession that consumes a staggering amount of energy and resources; if American women put even a fraction of the time they spend on their appearance into working or social and political change, this country would be utterly transformed.

The Supergirl Dilemma, the report we discussed on Friday about gender stereotypes by Girls Inc., does not ignore the influence of adults in the girls’ perceptions of what is important.

It’s no surprise that the adult women – mothers and nonmothers included – answers to the questions mirrors the girls’ answers to the questions.

True, People think that girls care a lot about shopping, 92% of the women said.

True, girls are under a lot of pressure to please everyone, 84% of the adult women said.

True, Girls are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way, 89% of the the adult women said.

What’s fascinating is that women were much more likely than men to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true. Women are also more likely than the girls to say they disliked that these stereotypes are true – by a lot.

One reads the women’s answers to the questions about girls and wonders if they aren’t really answering what it was like for themselves as girls.

Perhaps because the women themselves are caving under the pressure of being perfect?

Our daughters emulate us, especially emotionally.

As in most reports about girls there’s a lot of talk about media influence and pressure.

I’m definitely interested in helping Ainsley resist media pressure – but, who is helping her resist internalizing my feelings of being under pressure?

I’d like to see a report about how the media – television, marketing and advertising – is impacting mothers.

Are mothers figuring out how to deal with The Onslaught about women’s bodies and sexuality, or are we internalizing it in an unhealthy way and then passing that onto our own daughters?

How are mothers going to resist media pressure that tells us we’re never good enough?

If we can get right with ourselves, learn to accept our own selves in our imperfect states, and let this perfection pressure go, nothing will be able to hold our empowered daughters back.

If not. . . well, there’s a lot of pressure to be perfect and I don’t have to tell you how that feels – you already know.

Empowering Girls: Criticize Daughters’ DNA

My Face/Her Face

Self-Loathing Sin Bank

Empowering Girls: Marketing Boundaries

APA Reports Sexualization of Girls Devastating

Math: It’s A Tie

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