When reading an article about superwomen “having it all”, it struck me that men don’t resonate with the types of behaviors women do to be labelled as “super”. I believe from my experience as a psychotherapist and woman in her 50’s, that often, but not always, the compliment of being labelled a superwoman is a reward to keep women overextending themselves. It creates incentive to do more things without asking for help. Society reveres a strong, independent woman if she is young and good looking, has children, a career, doesn’t speak up much and works out.
Women are judged on many things in life, especially their looks. Do they have a pleasing appearance to whomever is judging that day? How is their body? Are they curvy, flat or round? Are they too skinny, fat, muscular, soft, short, tall, or too common? Heaven forbid if women actually look their age! Do they look old with wrinkles, grey hair, over done, dressing like an old lady or too young? Not to mention the pointer sisters. Are they too big, small, veiny, uneven, flat or droopy?
Now we move on to women and families. They are judged for not having children. They may be called “barren” as if their uterus is a desolate inhospitable wasteland. Are they selfish? On the other hand, when you are a mother, the judgements are still there. Is she working or not working? If she is working, does she care about her children? The peanut gallery doubts it. Does she stay at home with her brood? This is great if you are rich, but if you sacrifice money to stay home, you are judged for not taking care of your kids monetarily.
I am calling baloney on the notion of being a “superwoman”. I think it is something that people who buy into patriarchal society came up with so women don’t ask for the help they need. I want to be clear, I believe every single person man and woman have a unique temperament. They have certain gifts and desires. I know of many women who work full time, have children and schlepp their children to organized activities, clean the house and do part time school and their husband says he babysits his own children when she goes to class.
Although my rant seems highly negative, here is a message I want to share. Ladies, if you want to achieve a lot, that is up to you. If you feel overstretched, find your balance and rest if you must. If you have enough on your plate, you need not feel guilty about taking the time and space to rest or asking for help. If you feel like you are doing the lion’s share of work at home, ask for help from your partner or children. Everyone should be contributing at home. Do not ever feel like you are not enough because of your appearance. You are perfect for your own body. After all this is what the good Lord gave you. You have your own body because it was made only for you and no one else. If you look your age, or however you look, you are blessed. If you have wrinkles and/or grey hair consider it as if being written upon for living your life. Honour your body because it has housed your beautifully lit sacred soul and mind.
My closing remarks are to remember who we really are. Don’t get caught up in the over culture’s claptrap. We must embrace our gifts, honour and express gratitude for our bodies. We may have been granted the gift of aging. We may be blessed with laugh lines and silver highlights. Should we push ourselves at times to be and do better? H to the L yes. Its our divine purpose to grow and be our best selves. However, your worth is not defined by being a superwoman. If you can juggle more than everyone else, you may be special. I ask that people don’t fall into the trap of being and doing everything at your expense -mentally or physically. Decide what you really want for yourself. Be a human being not a human doing. Peace out!
Heather Caruso is a registered psychotherapist and art therapist at Art Therapy Guelph. If you would like to know how we may help you, contact us today.