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,