Why We Pursue Perfection (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Beyoncé is the only woman who wakes up flawless. I imagine her rolling out of bed all sparkly in her sequin nightgown, lips still glossy and hair still did, giving herself a confident nod in the mirror before heading downstairs to, I don’t know, workout or something.

I’m not Beyoncé. I’ll never be Beyoncé. But rather than accepting my non-Beyoncé status, I try to be her. To be flawless and perfect.

At the age of 46, I still worry about what I look like. The pandemic pounds I’ve gained eating my feelings for the past 9 months. The wrinkles, bags, and gray hairs that stare back at me on Zoom.

I have a perfect mom/wife/homemaker To Do List that rivals Martha Stewart’s. All the closet-organizing and homeschooling and baking and other nonsense I should be doing while stuck at home. The list goes on and on, and it’s just the latest iteration of my perfection that has pursued me as much as I have pursued it over the years.

Perfection is exhausting. It makes our lives suck. And if we dig deep enough, we see how it is tied directly to gender. I mean, really, have you met many men who worry about being perfect? Me, neither.

Perfection is tricky for women. In some ways, we’re required to be perfect. In a culture that magnifies our mistakes and minimizes our successes, the pressure is to be perfect is everywhere – in our homes, at work, within our relationships.

We learn to use perfection as a form of protection, thinking that if we do everything right, the world will be good and kind. We use it to motivate ourselves, letting it drive us to the point of exhaustion. But in the quiet place of our hearts, we know that perfection is the most imperfect way of living our lives.

In Episode 3 of That’s What She Said? we will discuss perfection and what it means for women’s liberation. I’ll go over the “5 Signs that You Might be a Perfectionist” and we’ll learn how to replace perfection with “good enough.”

Ready to get started? Grab your journal and let’s do this.


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