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Breaking the 'Super Woman' Illusion – Embracing Expectations, Realities, and Authenticity



Introduction

Being a woman in today's world is a journey filled with expectations and societal pressures. The 'Super Woman' illusion pervades our culture, influencing how women are perceived and how they perceive themselves. Whether in the role of mother, career professional, or partner, these expectations often lead to an unrelenting quest for perfection. This piece focuses on the 'Super Woman' in the context of the family, shedding light on this illusion of effortless grace of juggling life. It also advocates for authenticity and self-care.


Society's Expectations of Women

Society expects women to tick certain boxes and to play certain roles, often without training and with no playbook. Who says we can not be fabulous and real at the same time?


  • Marriage and Motherhood: Society often expects us to marry and give birth, pressuring us to maintain our figure post-pregnancy, as if physical appearance defines our worth. This narrow view overlooks the diverse paths women can and do choose, be it in relationships, family planning, or personal development.

  • Glamorous at All Times: There is a constant expectation for us to look glamorous, whether we are pregnant, breastfeeding, or even cooking. Glamorous even with flour on our nose! The media often reinforce these stereotypes, leading to a never-ending pursuit of physical perfection. This pressure overlooks the real, everyday beauty and strength that women embody.

  • Perfect Host, Mother, Wife: These roles come with a set of unwritten rules and ideals. Who wrote this rulebook? We are often expected to excel in all these areas without training, guidance, or even acknowledgment of the immense effort involved. The expectation to be perfect can overshadow the unique ways in which we enrich our families and communities.

  • A Balancing Act: The balancing act of career, household chores, and family care is an expected norm. Navigating these roles takes more than grace and skill; it requires resilience and courage.


This societal blueprint for women, filled with contradictions and unrealistic expectations, fails to honour the complexity, individuality, and authenticity of our experiences. It is time to question these norms, embrace our own paths, and celebrate women in all their multifaceted glory.


My Journey as a 'Super Woman'

From making fresh juice every day to wearing high heels in the kitchen, I have danced to various tunes of the 'Super Woman' lyrics. The special efforts that I put into managing a career and the daily routines of caring for my family life led my children and my sister-in-law to call me a 'Super Mom.' It was a label I wore with a hint of pride but also one that perhaps lurked in my subconscious, pushing me to excel as a mother, wife, career woman, and in my personal appearance.


This “keeping up appearances” and seemingly effortless navigation of these multiple roles takes a sometimes invisible toll. I spent many nights working to meet work deadlines, fuelled by a whole lot of coffee, due to the need to fulfil one of my roles as mother, wife, or host. The long hours, the constant striving for perfection, the expectations I placed on myself—they were all part of this complex dance.


It is these experiences, the highs and the lows that have shaped me and led me to start the blog Mama’s Reflective Musings. This space is where I can share my journey, my joys, achievements, bruises, and pitfalls. It is also a place to offer guidance on what to do and what not to do, how to navigate these roles, and most importantly, how to find balance and authenticity in the midst of it all.


The 'Super Woman' journey is not a solitary one. It is a path many of us walk, each with our own unique rhythm and grace. By sharing our stories, we can uplift, empower, and support one another, embracing our individuality and challenging the societal expectations that often confine us.


The Problem with the 'Super Woman' Label

The 'Super Woman' illusion is not all glitter and glam. While it may seem appealing or even empowering on the surface, this label comes with hidden traps and unintended consequences. It can become a constraining box that limits our potential and well-being.


  • Overachievers: The pressure to excel in every aspect of life can lead to burnout and stress, and this is not a badge of honour.

  • Unhealthy Competition:Comparing oneself to others, whether in the workplace, social circles, or even within the family, can foster a toxic environment, erode self-esteem, and impact mental well-being.

  • Body Image and Unrealistic Standards: The 'Super Woman' image often comes with unspoken expectations about physical appearance that can lead to an unhealthy relationship with one's body. This obsession with physical perfection can overshadow the true qualities that define us, such as strength, intelligence, compassion, and resilience.

  • Denying Others Opportunities: This illusion can inadvertently deny fathers, partners, or other family members the opportunity to contribute to family care, reinforcing unfair and outdated gender roles.

  • Pressure on Children:The expectation for children to be superachievers can place undue stress on them, affecting their development and happiness.

  • Loss of the Real You:Striving to live up to the 'Super Woman' image can lead to a loss of authenticity. The pursuit of this ideal might cause us to suppress our true selves, our needs, and our desires. This can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, and even a crisis of identity.


Debunking the 'Super Woman' Illusion – Shift toward Authenticity

  • Embrace Imperfection:Perfectly imperfect is human, and that is our superpower. The notion of being imperfectly perfect is an unattainable illusion.

  • Self-Acceptance: You are enough as you are. Whether you can cook a gourmet meal or not, whether you meet other people's expectations or not, you are still valuable and worthy. Self-acceptance is about honouring your own path, your own growth, and your own journey.

  • Genuine Self-Care:Saying 'no' when you need to is not being selfish; it is setting healthy boundaries. Saying 'yes' to yourself, for your well-being, is an act of self-respect. Declaring 'enough is enough' is a form of self-love.

  • Challenging Societal Expectations: Let us question the narratives and stereotypes that have shaped the 'Super Woman' concept. Let us challenge the media portrayals, the cultural norms, and the peer pressures that perpetuate these unrealistic standards. By doing so, we create space for more diverse, more authentic, and more empowering representations of ourselves.


Concluding Reflections

The 'Super Woman' illusion is a complex tapestry woven from societal expectations, personal pressures, and media stereotypes. While it might appear as an empowering label, it often conceals a multitude of unrealistic demands that can impact our well-being, relationships, and self-image. The journey towards authenticity is not about rejecting all expectations but about discerning which ones align with our values, our unique paths, and our true selves. It is about honouring the multifaceted women we are, celebrating our individuality, and supporting one another in our shared quest for authenticity. Let us cast aside the 'Super Woman' illusion and celebrate the real, resilient, beautifully imperfect women we are. Let us live our truth with courage and grace.


Join the Conversation!

It is time to take a step back and think about what really matters. Let us embrace our true selves, our real bodies, and our own unique paths. As you reflect on your own journey, consider these questions for self-reflection:


1. What societal expectations or pressures have you felt the need to conform to, and how have they shaped your view of yourself? How can you challenge or redefine these expectations in a way that aligns with your authentic self?

2. How do you practice genuine self-care in your daily life? What steps can you take to honour your needs, set healthy boundaries, and cultivate a more compassionate relationship with yourself?


We would love to hear your thoughts, reflections, and stories. Share them in the comments below or on social media using these hashtags. Together, we can create a supportive community that celebrates the real, multifaceted women we are.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an acclaimed Independent International Consultant with extensive contributions to gender equality and social inclusion within sectors such as transport, infrastructure, agriculture, and rural development in African nations. Her expertise has shaped transformative programmes, championing women's rights and fostering inclusive development. She is also the voice behind Mama's Reflective Musings, a blog that offers thoughtful insights and reflections on women's experiences.

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10 Comments


Guest
Nov 05, 2023

It can be exhausting trying to be a super woman.

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Guest
Oct 31, 2023

Over the years, I have learnt that I do not have to do everything by myself.

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023

Some of these stereotypes can perpetuate gender inequalities.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 31, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely, stereotypes do more than just create unrealistic expectations; they can also perpetuate gender inequalities by boxing people into roles they may not naturally fit. This can, in turn, hinder both personal and professional development. Challenging these stereotypes is not just about shattering illusions but also about creating a more equitable society. Your comment hits the nail on the head and amplifies the need for open conversations on these issues.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Oct 28, 2023

I kind of feel proud being called a super woman but sometimes maintaining that is a challenge.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 31, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for sharing your perspective. The term "super woman" is indeed a double-edged sword; while it can feel empowering, it can also set an impossibly high standard. It's completely understandable that maintaining this image can be a challenge. The beauty lies in embracing our authentic selves and accepting that it is okay not to be "super" all the time. Your comment wonderfully illustrates the complexities that come with the label, and I appreciate you adding this nuanced view to the conversation.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

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Guest
Oct 08, 2023

My mother was the epitome of a superwoman. She did and had it all without burning out.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 18, 2023
Replying to

Your mother sounds like an extraordinary woman, and it is important to celebrate such powerful role models. However, it's worth noting that not everyone has the same resilience or circumstances. The 'superwoman' ideal can sometimes set unrealistic expectations for women, making them feel inadequate if they can't 'do it all.' Your mother's story is inspiring but also an exception. We should strive for balance and authenticity rather than perfection.


Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #GESI #NiteTanzarn #GenderRoles #Authenticity #WomensWellbeing #SuperWoman #SuperMom

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