Sometimes I feel like well-dressed, polished, business women are the only acceptable representation of what it is to be a woman. They flock to international women’s day events in their colourful dresses and blonde blow-dries and talk about other well-dressed, polished, worthy women.
I don’t mean to sound so cynical, but it burns. It really does.
We don’t see a lot of variation in what an ‘inspirational’ worthy woman looks like. That’s not to say that the polished women aren’t exceptional or inspiring. Just that when it all comes down to it, they are not the only way to woman.
The narrow view of a worthy woman
The media shows a very narrow view of what a worthy woman looks like, acts like and wants to be like. Most of us aren’t represented because we’re not aspiring business people who schedule ‘me time’ into packed diaries. Some of us don’t have a diary at all.
Instead, we come in all shapes and various degrees of ‘put togetherness’. Frizzy-haired, over-sized, paint-stained, sloppy-dressed, bright-smiling women are around, too. We have messy houses, messy clothes, messy lives and absolutely no desire to neaten things up.
We’re not represented at IWD breakfasts with keynote speakers, simply because we don’t want to be there, or can’t afford to go. We’re not particularly interested in climbing the corporate ladder or maximising our side-hustle. We just want to do work we love and make enough money to keep the kids fed and the lights on.
It’s enough. All women are beautiful, and every single one of us is a worthy woman. That’s the message I tell my girls every single day.
Be any and every kind of woman
I’m not trying to bring down any woman who fits the ‘worthy woman’ stereotype I’ve outlined above. It’s perfectly okay to want to be that kind of woman. Many are my friends and I love them to bits.
But because I love her, I also know how insecure and anxious she really is – all the time. All. the. time.
She talks about ‘faking it ’til you make it’, without realising that she’s already made it, just because she’s here. She’s light and love and no amount of imposter syndrome can ever take that away from her. She has some ideal in her head of what being a woman is that just isn’t. She thinks society wants her to be a certain way and she breaks herself trying to fit the mould, but it’s the mould that’s broken.
It takes a lot out of a person to live up to the standards society has set for modern women. The perfect mother, helpful volunteer, present friend, doting wife, dutiful daughter, all while wearing back-breaking stilettos and an ever-present smile. It means ignoring your own feelings to serve others and kicking the mess out of the way of the Instagram photo.
The need to fit in and succeed is a driving force in many women’s lives and it suits some more than others. Some simply love it, but for many others it’s a relentless carousel that’s too bright, too loud and too fast.
I just want women to know: you can step off it if you want to.
Despite zero media representation, there’s a whole bunch of us worthy women out here who don’t measure up to society’s ideal and never will. And guess what – we’re positively thriving.