Women are expected to embody a myriad of roles and qualities simultaneously. Be ambitious, yet nurturing. Independent, yet accommodating. Assertive, yet kind. Boss, but not bossy. These conflicting expectations create a constant internal struggle, fostering an environment where self-doubt, self-shaming, and self-guilting, flourish and disconnection from the authentic self and reality.
The pressure to conform to contradictory standards is overwhelming, turning girls into dolls, just constantly striving to be someone else, someone unachievable. This has a tremendous toll on women’s mental well-being.
This is extremely challenging, especially for gifted women, who must suppress their intensities and potential even more. The mind, body, and soul could become a dangerous pressure cooker, leading to several mental disorders and feelings of dispersion, confusion, and loneliness.
To break free from this cycle, we must first challenge ourselves and our perception of reality and then challenge societal norms.
Gloria’s full monologue from the movie Barbie (2023):
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people.
You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.
But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful.
You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”
Gloria’s words resonate because they reflect the reality women navigate daily. It’s a relentless juggling act with no acknowledgment, thank you, recognition, validations, or medals. The pressure is too contradictory and demanding, leaving women questioning their worth and feeling responsible for everything, even when it’s not their fault.
Breaking free from this cycle is imperative. The first step is challenging our perceptions of reality acknowledging the unrealistic standards imposed on women. Then, collectively, we must challenge societal norms perpetuating this expectation cycle.
Let’s start a conversation, raise awareness, and support one another. Support your fellow women!
It’s time to liberate ourselves from the confines of societal expectations and empower women, especially the gifted, to embrace their authenticity. The struggle is real, but the strength arises when we stand together.