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The Balance of Femininity


Simone Biles, who struggles with the balance herself.

Gender expectations hurt everyone: the messages are conflicting, the prize is practically unattainable, and there are more ways to fail at it than to succeed. Gender is more than action, it’s a performance. It’s taught from a young age and reinforced in every stage of life. There are spoken and unspoken guidelines.

For femininity, there is a long list of achievements that society dictates we have to conform to daily, but only so much. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. The most difficult of balancing acts. But somehow, “overdoing it” is as much a sin as not doing it at all. “Do this, but not too much.”

We should be smart, but not too smart because that makes everyone else look bad. No one likes a teacher’s pet. No one likes a know-it-all.

We should be pretty, but if we’re too pretty it’ll probably undermine how smart we are. Somehow pretty and smart became mutually exclusive to each other, but pick one and roll with it.

To be pretty, we need make-up, but not too much. Somehow wearing the amount of makeup we want to has others compare us to clowns. What if they took us swimming on the first date?  Somehow, some haven’t heard of waterproof mascara and setting spray. A natural look is best, yet it looks like we haven’t slept in a week when we suddenly don’t conceal the bags under our eyes. Be natural, but cover your impurities with foundation.

The list goes on and on. Haircuts are cute, but not too short, don’t look like a boy. Be pure of mind and body, but not prude. Be sexy, but not a slut. Don’t be masculine, but don’t be too girly either. Thick girls are better, but have a flat stomach and no cellulite or stretch marks. Being fit is great, but not too muscular. Be tan by the artificial salon, but not too dark by nature.

It’s impossible to win. It’s impossible to achieve. It just might not even be worth achieving. It’s exhausting to wake up with the expectation to please people you don’t even know. It’s expected that we make a leap into the stratosphere and balance our way into a 10 landing.

Express yourself and do what you like without anyone’s permission.

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Written By

Elisabeth is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, a wifi enthusiast, and an avid follower of pop culture.

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