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Decline of The Modern Goddess

June 24, 2014

Team Gnomercy

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Parked in beach chairs, on a deserted stretch of sand, surrounded by aggressive sea gulls and the thunderous crashing of waves, we debated the destruction of our gender.

That might seem like a high-brow, large-scale conversational endeavor for a day spent soaking up the sun on the seashore, but it seemed as natural Good Ol Daysa place as any to start the conversation.

Why, for instance, had half of us spent four weeks restricting our caloric intake prior to the vacation? And what about our strict adherence to exercise schedules, tanning booth appointments, and haircut and color trips?

After years in the field, any woman will tell you that you get your programming right out of the gate, but it’s up to you to to throw away the societal owners manual to being female and forge a different path.

Tensions tend to flare between warring factions on this battlefield. There are those of us who adhere to a “live and let live” type of platform, where we are what we are and don’t expect much in the way of cooperation or agreement from the masses. Then there’s the group who feels everyone who is compliant in readily eating and digesting what the Powers That Be feed us on a daily basis is contributing to the festering rot that destroys us from the inside out.

These are the two groups that stormed the beach on a hot summer day wondering why so much time was spent hating bodies that could never be perfect, smiles that weren’t brilliantly white or straight, and wrinkles well-earned from a millions smiles. The heated debate as to whether we were all fully responsible for advancing society’s unreal expectations of women raged on while the sun beat down.

I maintained that what is demanded of us sets us up for failure on one or more fronts every day. No one can be a sharp shooter at work, a full-time mother, a house cleaner, a problem solver, a good wife, drop dead gorgeous, confident, brilliant and sexually adventurous without cracking. It negates us as human beings. If you can’t do it all well, you may as well not do it at all. So we short change ourselves, and every critical flaw gets magnified until the self loathing is overwhelming. To counteract those forces every day is exhausting.

The other side argued that we should be fighting every day to crash through the barriers that were put there to reign us in. That women are the majority, that society would be better served if it were matriarchal in nature.

All of us had been raised by strong women, but we found ourselves struggling to feel good about almost anything while we talked and kept our toes buried in the sand. To be a woman is a wonderful thing, until it isn’t.

I’m glad to say we spent the rest of that vacation enjoying each others’ company, not worried so much about the stares of strangers or what they might think, but I worry for younger women who place an enormous amount of importance on how they will be judged. Our daughters, who fret over the scale or become riddled with panic as soon as they feel they are slipping off the “attractive” meter — will they sit on the beach with their friends someday laughing and looking back at all the silliness that seemed so incredibly important? I sure hope so.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    June 24, 2014 3:49 pm

    When I was a kid, I didn’t worry about what was expected of me as a woman. Then I got to be a teenager and those expectations were coming at me from everywhere, and I tried to go along with them. As a young adult, I began to realize that I didn’t have to be what society thought a woman should be – I didn’t fit in anywhere anyway, so why not be who I really am and forget about meeting society’s expectations? I still tried to meet certain expectations for a while, until I found that it was just impossible – the goal posts kept getting moved farther and farther away. The older I get, the more I realize that the only expectations I need to meet are my own – what do I want to look like, what do I want to achieve, what do I need to be happy. When I work toward what I want out of life, toward meeting my expectations, I’m happier and don’t feel the need to “fit in” anywhere – I “fit in” right where I am and that’s all that matters. It’s taken me a lot of years to reach that point in my life, but better late than never. I just wish everyone knew that they’re fine just the way they are and they don’t need to meet any expectations but their own.

  2. June 24, 2014 4:58 pm

    “the only expectations I need to meet are my own” – I’m going to be saying this to myself a LOT.

  3. June 24, 2014 11:19 pm

    The older I get, the easier it gets. But I wish sometimes that I could send a telegram to my younger self telling her that all that angsting over pleasing other people and appealing to other people was simply not going to pay off.

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