Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Never Cease to Be Amazed...

...and saddened.

Why is it that women hold themselves to a standard of excellence far higher and far more self-defeating than men?

Why have our public images come to be so air-brushed that we no longer know what a real woman actually looks like?

Why are we either "on" or "off" plan every day, or even every minute?

Why does one mistake at work or one mouthful too many or one meal overeaten signify total failure?

Why do five pounds gained make a woman want to sink into the ground while a man can gain 50 pounds, look in the mirror and still see an Adonis staring back at him?

I've been looking for the answers to such questions for most of my adult life and I still don't know. All I know is that the search for perfection has coloured my life and mostly in a negative way.

I will never be someone who contents herself with mediocrity but I am sick to death of beating myself up for not being perfect. There is a big difference. The search for perfection is actually the quickest road to failure.

Click over to the latest blog I've added to my blogroll, Screaming Fat Girl, for one of the best posts I've read in a long time about the role perfection has played in her life. In fact, read her archives. She's amazing. SFG has now become one of my "must reads".


  1. when you find the answer let me know. i can't figure it out either.

  2. First of all, thanks so much for the generous and kind words.

    In regards to why women are held to higher standards physically than men, it's my feeling that it is because even in countries where women's rights are quite advanced, women continue to be heavily objectified and they embrace this at at unconscious level. The sense that it is our responsibility to conform to the wishes of a society built around the wishes of men is so deeply ingrained that people only reject it in its most overt demonstrations.

    At a basic level, the idea that the value of women rests in their ability to serve men on whatever level men desire still is a part of most cultures. Women are just as responsible for this as men though as many of them have a knee-jerk rejection of the word "feminism" (based on ignorance of what it really means - it doesn't mean being just like a man or not being feminine, but rather not placing the definition of your value into the hands of men), and they remain highly competitive about their appeal to men and relative beauty. It always saddens me to read women say things like, "I'm cuter than her so why isn't he attracted to me?" It makes me angry when formerly fat or currently fat but "dieting" women judge women fatter than themselves to elevate their status. I can't tell you how many women have written that they are relieved to be in a room with someone bigger than themselves, as if that is a reflection of their relative value amongst a group of people.

    All of this comparison among women is an indication that women embrace the idea that beauty adds to their value as human beings and any societally determined notions of "ugly" detracts from that of others who possess such attributes. The bottom line though is that I think this is a form of competition which comes from our basic nature as a species. Men compete all of the time, usually in business, games, or in terms of physical strength. Women compete on terms of beauty. In some ways, this is not only very basic, but "easy". It's easier for women to attend to their appearance and to be given power and status in society because of beauty than to attend to less superficial qualities and to be rewarded for them.

    This is just off the top of my head though. There are likely many and varied issues at play.

  3. "The search for perfection is actually the quickest road to failure."

    I completely agree. (I came to your blog via SFG's. I read her too.)

    The more weight-loss blogs I read the more I see a gap between what it means to me to be the best - or rather the healthiest - I can be and the goals of other women. Sure, we all want to lose weight - we have that in common, but have you noticed how The BIGGEST Loser and programmes of that ilk have set so many up with a competitive boot-camp mentality? Eating becomes extreme, exercise dominates the day and unless the burn is felt it's not effective. I read a blog the other day and the woman in question said she'd walked, played frisbee in the park with friends, then had a game of badminton but - she was full of self-recrimination because according to her, she'd has a bad day because she hadn't 'worked out'! The work out was a gym visit and reps on the equipment. She'd been less than perfect because she'd skipped the gym. I was flabbergasted.

    Where has this pressure come from? Is it self-imposed? Instead of being 'perfect' why can't we just be? Being the 'best' we can be is a slogan often used, yet we never used to measure daily performance like this. I am pretty convinced it does more harm than good. Some days I WILL do my best, other days I'll fall short, (won't we all?) but please let's not lay guilt on top of that too. It's amazing how we suck up this stupid pressure and allow it to affect our days isn't it?

  4. SFG and Grumpy: What amazing responses!! I can feel an exciting dialogue starting up. Thank you!

  5. I signed up w/Spark People about 2 1/2 mos ago... supposedly for it's "non-diet" mentality.
    [all about HAES dontcha know]
    Let's just say it was a short-lived romance... rarely have I seen such a collection of eating-disordered individuals - then again, maybe I've just led a sheltered life!
    But there's gotta be more to life than obsessive-compulsive behavior concerning your exercise & food intake...