We are studying expectations in our Sunday school class this month. Expectation is a prickly word. It leaves so much emotion on the table and is the downfall of many relationships. It is also the cause for many women feeling unworthy. Our culture places a lot of expectations — wait, let me rephrase that — wildly unrealistic expectations on women. How we should dress, how much makeup to wear, the right swimsuits for our “curvy” or “boyish” or “pear-shaped” bodies, what colors are “hot” right now, sigh. It’s endless. And friends, I really can not pull off coral lipstick.
Sadly, in my own work with young girls, I find the further away young girls are from meeting these unrealistic expectations, the worse they feel about themselves. It’s ironic, too. I’ve never met a woman who agrees these outrageous expectations we put on women are a good idea, and yet each generation comes and grows up in a world filled with strict rules for how they should talk, dress, think, and even what length of eyelashes or texture of hair is best.
Which leaves me with the following question:
If we, as females, hate the expectation, why do we try so hard to meet it? Why do let it hang around? Could it be that confidence really found in a tube of coral lipstick? In a cute hairstyle? Can we not be confident with makeup-free faces? With messy hair? Why can’t we feel confident in our natural state? Why can’t we just…be? And if we all want it, why do we judge the females who don’t meet society’s definition of beauty? Why do we think less of her if she lives outside the norm?
I look at the women we highlight each month in our subscription boxes. I look at their facial features, study pictures of them, read their stories. Yes, some of them did appreciate makeup and fashion and some of them didn’t bother with it at all. Yet, they are both revered. What was different about them? Why didn’t they care about expectations? What made them dare to step outside the norm?
I find myself concentrating on that part of us that no one really talks about. The spirit. Perhaps that is “it” — that confidence and inner worth that shines through. How much do you reveal your spirit to others? These women who made history embraced their spirit and revealed a great deal of it to the world. They had a spirit of perseverance, adventure, of service. I realize beautiful things happen when you listen to your spirit. When you live through your spirit. Your face radiates in ways that rouge and lip gloss will never match. You laugh harder, smile bigger, live with true passion. You push yourself to try new things, turn perceived failures into learning experiences, and immerse yourself in the knowledge that you have worth. Ladies — living your spirit is confidence. The spirit of these women is so big that they couldn’t take it all with them when they passed. They have left some of it behind….waiting for other women to come along and pick it up.
As the owner of Grace and Grit Box, I get this honor. Every month I share the spirit of strong women to young girls. Every month the historical lives of strong women come alive in the minds of young girls. I pray that when girls read the stories of the women who came before them, they discover a bit of their own spirit and in doing so start to leave behind the unrealistic expectations of others and encourage other girls to do the same. And perhaps one day, we will tell the story of your girl and how she stood up for change, became a hero and empowered others.
“Here’s to the strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” Now, I’m going to take my makeup-free face to the grocery store. Wish me luck.