The pressure of perfection and why we should all be easier on ourselves & each other

I WAS going through my Twitter feed the other day when I came across a horrible and rather depressing article on the famous Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

In case you don’t know who Aishwarya is, in a nutshell, she is known for being one of the most beautiful women in the world and a global Bollywood superstar.

Aishwaryi gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in November last year and this dear readers, is where it all gets rather nasty. For according to some publications, bloggers and ‘fans’ in her native India, Aishwaryi is letting her country down. Not because she’s a neglectful or uncaring Mum, but because she hasn’t shed her baby weight quick enough. I kid you not.

Some particularly unpleasant website has even created a video of images of Aishwaryi, comparing pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy shots to demonstrate just how much she’s ‘let herself go’. It has been watched more than 500,000 times.

The ‘Aishwarya baby weight’ topic is now the talk of the country apparently as more and more people are becoming increasingly horrified that she seems to paying more attention to being a good and loving mother than she is to shedding a few extra pounds. (Unlike many other famous women I could mention.)

The ridiculous public pressure on this new mother to get back to her former self as quickly as possible, is not only blood boiling, but also rather depressing. For yet again, it’s another example of how women are expected to be perfect, all of the time.

So you’ve just had a baby and are absolutely exhausted? Tough! It’s time to bounce back into shape and get your lippy on. So you’ve got a ridiculously busy job? Tough! You’ve got a husband, kids, mother, friends to look after and spend time with. So you’re struggling to make ends meet and keep your head above water? Tough! You should be out there living it up, keeping up with fashion trends and enjoying a jet-set lifestyle!

The pressure and demands on women these days to have it all (at once) and to live the ‘perfect’ lifestyle is quite frankly, frightening. For even when you think you’re above all the perfection crap, it can still come and bite you in the butt when you least expect it.

In my early stages of pregnancy, I felt horrific. I couldn’t stop being sick or feeling sick and felt absolutely exhausted all day, every day, for about three months. Because of this, I had to cancel freelance work for clients, put my social life completely on hold and try to accept the fact, that on most days, just having a shower was the best I could hope to achieve. I found these three months incredibly difficult, because although I was over the moon that I was pregnant, I also felt like a big, fat, failure.

I kept reading about pregnant women who would bounce out of bed with energy and vigour and weep about the fact, that despite my best intentions, my life seemed to be unravelling. I was, most of the time, fit for nothing, but instead of accepting this and looking after myself, all I could think of was that my life was  about as far away from perfection as it could get. Stupid and pathetic I know.

Now, with the benefit of being able to look back, I can see that somewhere along the line I’d been sucked into the media hype that we can have it all, which I now know to be a load of ol’ b******s.

Media and advertising companies would love us all to believe that perfection IS possible. Just look at the glossy adverts of models with not a hair out of place or switch on your TV and admire the seemingly ‘perfect’ lives of your favourite celebs. The message? Perfection is within anyone’s grasp, if you just buy this product or live your life this way.

Marketing and advertising folk create fantasies. And in a way, there’s nothing wrong with that as we all need a bit of escapism at times. But it becomes worrying when we get pulled into the belief, that we’re not good enough unless we look a certain way, own a certain handbag or live a certain lifestyle.

If we’re not careful, we can become so used to being bombarded with images of perfection, that we forget what reality is.  Just look at a photo of any of the world’s most beautiful women before they are photoshopped and you’ll see what I mean. Spots, wrinkles, blemishes, red eyes, yes they’re still beautiful, but they’re also surprisingly real. We’re so used to looking at perfection, that sometimes seeing an ‘ordinary’ photo of a well known face can be well, quite shocking.

In today’s world, we are too often fed the line that to be happy or successful, we MUST be perfect in all that we are and all that we do. And I’ll happily argue the case with anyone that it’s us ladies who seem to suffer the most when it comes to this train of thought.

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-improvement (I’m all for it!), my early pregnancy experience has taught me that aiming for ‘perfection’ just isn’t healthy. It’s great to always try to be the best you can be or to do the best you can do, but constantly striving for perfection is exhausting and will only ever leave us feeling miserable and unfulfilled. I don’t care what anyone says, nobody is perfect or has the perfect life.

So next time you get emotional because you feel like you’re failing or because you’re not living the life that is expected of you, please just think again and go easy on yourself. If you’re doing the best you can, then that, in anyone’s book, should be good enough. Embrace your imperfections and learn to love ’em, I beg of you!

Perhaps then, we can finally put an end to this unhealthy obsession with perfection and learn to love ourselves, our lives and each other a whole lot more.

Till the next time,

Katie

x

 

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13 Discussions on
“The pressure of perfection and why we should all be easier on ourselves & each other”
  • I agreed with you completely.Thanks for this thoughful post.
    Aishwariya has already played her actress role beautifully and responsibly.now let her play her mother role ,the most fantastic role ever in womens’ life :)

    • Lovely comment Samreen, thanks for sharing!

      You’re right, being a mother is an incredibly special
      role for a woman to undertake, one that is very precious :-) x

  • Brilliant post, and one that I completely agree with…I was lucky enough to stay in the same hotel as Aishwarya while I was in India and she is the most stunningly gorgeous woman imaginable. She would look breathtaking no matter what her size or shape, but that shouldn’t matter anyway…why should it?

    It angers me that there is so much pressure on women to look like Victoria’s Secret models just days after birth. The famous women who don’t achieve it (Aishwarya, Hilary Duff) are then lambasted for being overweight. It’s ridiculous! These women should be praised for caring more about their babies than they do their figures.

    But then, it also scares me a little as I feel that pressure too. I have already started looking into post-natal workouts and I am very, very careful with what I eat in pregnancy. It’s silly, as this should just be a time when I can relax and enjoy my changing body!

    • Thanks for you lovely comment Sam. It’s dreadful isn’t it, the kind of pressure
      put on women, especially pregnant women & new mums.

      Like you though I can’t help but feel a tiny bit paranoid about gaining weight in pregnancy.
      Luckily I don’t think I’ve gained that much but like you I’ve tried to be good.

      I think the day we can all be easier on ourselves and on each other
      (some women are horrible about their fellow ladies) then we’ll all be much happier x

      P.S I’m so envious you got to see the stunning Aishwarya in the flesh
      and I completely agree that no matter what her size, she will always be
      an incredibly beautiful woman.

      In a way the fact that she hasn’t rushed to lose her baby weight makes
      me admire her even more :-) x

  • I could not agree with you more. I too had a horrible early pregnancy and felt like a complete failure for not having the glossy hair and glowing skin that some ladies are lucky enough to gain with pregnancy. Women are constantly pressured to work for physical and lifestyle perfection, and it takes a thick skin to shrug it off at times. When you are pregnant,especialy for the first time, there is a lot of change and it can be daunting and scary at times. It is only natural to feel a little emotionaly fragile when everything is changing so much. It is the worst time to make a woman doubt herself.

    • Thanks for your comment Jessica!

      You’re absolutely right, pregnancy (esp the first time) is daunting and
      scary in equal measure and the last thing women need is to be made
      to feel anything but beautiful during this wonderful but challenging time.

      It can be so difficult to deal with the changes going on in your body,
      but really, what can be more beautiful than a woman growing a new life?!

      This is what I’m constantly trying to remind myself of, every time
      I feel fat or tired or less than perfect ;-) x

  • Sadly her’ sis not an isolated case. You only have to look at the trashy mags to see women’s shape, and sadly perceived worth, charted in fat and thin photos. It took me a good six months to even begin feeling like me again, let alone think about ‘ getting in shape’. You’re so right, we should be easier on ourselves and each other.

  • I completely agree with you and everything you say in this post. The pressure to be perfect is stifling at times, and no matter what decisions you make or how hard you try, it isn’t possible to be perfect so you end up feeling like a failure. At vulnerable times, like early pregnancy it is particularly difficult and some people are so quick to judge if you show the slightest hint of weakness. A real shame that we can’t just support each other more! Great post! xx #brillblogposts

  • This is just awful! It must be hard enough being such a public figure, the media should leave her alone to be a mother and enjoy being one rather than putting pressure on her to look ‘perfect’. Mel #brilliantblogposts

  • Thanks for linking this archive post, I never heard about the awful way Aishwarya was treated, how disgusting and sad, deeply, deeply sad.

    Pregnancy and its effects is usually out of women’s control in the sense you put on weight irrespective of what you eat usually (and as in my first pregnancy like yours, I vomited for 9 months so ate what I can-I spent the first 6 months worrying about putting on weight)…plus hormonal changes affect you and your body as you create life.

    Very few women can snap right back straight after nor is it usually healthy (esp when breastfeeding) so why and where has all this pressure come from-the media yes but we are lapping it up and reacting to it too.

    We should all take a stand. In time, when you work at things and are fit emotionally and physically, the weight can and will come off…

    My Mother says this pressure really didn’t exist in the 80’s when she had my brother and I, even on a micro-polital level words such as ‘ballooning’ ‘looking like a whale’ and other commonplace negative associations with the blooming wonderment that is pregnancy need to stop. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts.

  • I remember this when it happened at the time and was appalled. I felt so much pressure when breast feeding as everyone kept saying how the weight just “fell off” when they breast fed but it didn’t seem to happen. I felt like such a failure. But it’s ridiculous isn’t it? I had given birth and done this amazing thing, but felt a failure. This is a wonderful post xx

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