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.

xoxoako

Not Your Mom’s White Lady Book Group

I absolutely love book groups, and ones that focus on anti-Black racism are the best. It’s refreshing to hear epiphanies about privilege and earnest commitments to change. That said, if you’ve read White Fragility and fully comprehend Kendi’s “anti-racist” construct, you may be craving something new to add to your bookshelf.

Below is a list of books recommended by some very smart women who showed up for my new talk show last week. I’ve included a short description and encourage you to check them out. You can buy them from a black-owned bookstore (recommended by Oprah no less!) by clicking here.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

Far too often, Black women’s anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that. Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. 

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life? adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work.

The Memo: Twenty Years Inside the Deep State Fighting for America First

The Memo is the gut-wrenching story that Trump supporters have waited to hear. From the self-defeating conflicts in the Middle East to the struggle against the “Soft Coup” to remove President Trump from office, Rich Higgins provides a view from the trenches of the ruthless war of deceit and betrayal waged against the Trump Presidency since January 2017.

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown

Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.

How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community

Birdsong shows that what separates us isn’t only the ever-present injustices built around race, class, gender, values, and beliefs, but also our denial of our interdependence and need for belonging. How We Show Up returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable.

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

In centering Black women’s stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women’s unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism.

Citizen                          

In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary society. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude Steele

The acclaimed social psychologist offers an insider’s look at his research and groundbreaking findings on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.

Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino

In questioning the phenomenon of “covering,” a term used for the coerced hiding of crucial aspects of one’s self, Yoshino thrusts the reader into a battlefield of shifting gray areas. What emerges is an eloquent, poetic protest against the hidden prejudices embedded in American civil rights legislation. Yoshino reveals that the struggle against oppression lies not solely in fighting an imagined, monolithic state but as much in intimate discourse with the mother, the father and the colleague who constitute that state. 

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

And just in case you missed these the first time around, here are the books that have been out and about for awhile now:

How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility brings language to the emotional structures that make true discussions about racial attitudes difficult. With clarity and compassion, DiAngelo allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people.’ In doing so, she moves our national discussions forward.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad and Robin DiAngelo

An indispensable resource for white people who want to challenge white supremacy but don’t know where to begin. Saad moves her readers from their heads into their hearts, and ultimately, into their practice. We won’t end white supremacy through an intellectual understanding alone; we must put that understanding into action.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Oluo does more than deliver tough, blunt truths about the realities of racism, power and oppression. She also, in bracing fashion, offers a vision of hope; a message that through dialogue and struggle, we can emancipate ourselves from what she calls ‘the nation’s oldest pyramid scheme: white supremacy.’ That is why I don’t think this is merely one of the most important books of the last decade. It is also one of the most optimistic. 

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young Black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi has done something that’s damn near impossible: write a book about racism that breaks new ground, while being written in a way that’s accessible to the nonacademic. If you’ve ever been interested in how racist ideas spread throughout the United States, this is the book to read.

Why We Compete with Each Other (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

From Mean Girls to the Queen Bee Syndrome, women have been socialized to view each other as competitors rather than allies and co-conspirators. We judge, criticize, and – at our worst – undermine each other’s success. This causes havoc within women’s communities and distracts us from the larger issue at hand: Fighting the Patriarchy.

What if we took all of the rage and anguish that we feel about our lives and directed it at the real causes of our discontent? What if we fought the sexist systems and structures that make fighting each other feel inevitable and even necessary?

In Episode 2 of That’s What She Said?, we will explore the concept of “horizontal hostility,” which is when marginalized groups (that’s us, ladies) turn on each other. We’ll talk about identity-based nonsense like anti-Black racism in the women’s movement and what we (who identify as white women) can do to make up for it. Speaking of which, check out my “Not Your Mom’s White Lady Book Group” reading list.

Then we’ll finish up with a fabulous quote about pie (yes, you read that right), spend a few minutes reflecting in our journals, and share our sparkles of inspiration with two women we love.

Ready to get started? Grab your journal, find a quiet spot, and let’s go!

xoxoako

Episode 2: Why We Compete with Each Other (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Join me next week

We’ll be exploring “Why We Pursue Perfection (and What This Means’ for Women’s Liberation).” Join me for the LIVE show next Thursday, 11/19/20, at Noon EST. Can’t make the time? I’ll send you the recording. To register for either option, send me an email by clicking here.

Why Supermodels Marry Old Dudes (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Let me start off by saying I have zero beef with supermodels. In fact, I would personally love to be a supermodel. And I think many women would agree that being freakishly beautiful, rich, and famous sounds like a pretty good gig.

What I do have a curiosity around is why beautiful women – whether they’re supermodels or not – consistently end up marrying old dudes. What’s the allure?

There are a couple of factors at play here, and while we may not be super models, they certainly apply to our non-super model existence. So we’re gonna spend a little time exploring them in my first LIVE blog post.

In this video, I’ll solve the mystery of why supermodels marry old dudes, drop a few accidental swear words, walk you through a powerful activity (you’ll need paper and a pen), and set you up to connect with other women in your life.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Tune In Next Week

For next week’s show, we’ll be talking about why women compete with each other and what this nonsense means for women’s liberation. I’ll also share how white women can step up for racial justice by supporting and advocating for women of color.

If you’d like to attend the live “That’s What She Said?” show next Thursday, 11/12/20, at Noon EST, send me an email by clicking here.

xoxoako