“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman.” Betty Friedan
This quote caught my attention the other day and has been stuck in my head ever since. When I read it, I said, “Ah hah! I can totally understand that!” Then I looked up the woman who said it because I didn’t have any idea who Betty Friedan was. A shame, I know.
Seeing that she was a pioneer in the feminist movement gave me a momentary pause. I’m not the militant feminist type. I don’t believe the two sexes are the same but I also don’t believe that either sex should be held above the other. I believe that we are individuals first, genders second.
Mind you, I will be the first one to put you in your place if you tell me I can’t do something because I’m female, but then again, I don’t like to be told I can’t do something for any reason. I enjoy being a mom and I’m very happy making our home run smoothly, something that some modern feminists can’t understand. And, I like to hang out with guys because they are usually pretty straight forward, don’t have alot of drama and don’t mind that I yell alot at sporting events. But, that’s just my personality, not my gender, and I’m pretty sure there are other women out there just like me. Scratch that…other personalities out there just like me. I don’t think life is as simple as men v. women or gender roles…I think we need to look at individuals, not genders.
For me, this quote was about more than gender roles though. It spoke to how I feel about my physical appearance as well. I don’t feel that I fit the mold of what society considers beautiful…I’m not tall and thin, my hair isn’t bouncy and shiny, I don’t have perfect skin. I am curvy and could stand to lose 10 pounds, I have cankles, a good hair day is cause for celebration and I have more pimples at 37 than I did as a teenager. I have a c-section scar from 3 kids who just had to use the emergency exit, stretch marks and my boobs have retired and moved south. I have been heavy and I have been thin and I have seen people treat me differently at each weight. All of this has made me doubt my own beauty and self confidence.
On the flip side of this, I have seen what my body can do. I have run 5ks and 10ks, I have given birth to and nursed 3 healthy children, I can buck hay and halter break steers, I can run & play with my kids and, after 15 years, my husband still calls me beautiful. Perhaps most importantly, I am healthy! All of these things are what I should be using to see the true beauty in my body and myself.
So, for me, this quote was saying ‘stop looking at yourself through society’s lense’, focus on the good instead. We are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. Not in redundant mirror images of each other but in uniquely crafted individuals. Ah, individuals…not women or men, fat or thin, but individual people who have specific traits, characteristics, personalities and appearances. How novel…
I will take this quote with me and enjoy being the woman and person that I am.