In the majority of cases, I think the answer to this headline is “yes.” As a woman, I often try to live up to societal expectations of me at the holidays. Let me give you a personal example from this year and then look at some of the articles I found online that show some disturbing stats.
Speaking From Personal Experience
I have already been to several holiday parties this season. I even co-hosted a Christmas dinner. Each time I went to a party, I bought a gift for the host. Not just any gift. I searched for the “perfect” presents, which in hindsight makes no sense as there’s nothing perfect in the world. Not only that but what’s wrong with giving something that’s not perfect? What’s the worst thing that could happen?
While thinking about this notion I realized, well, I was never asked to bring a gift to any party. In fact, one of my friends said just showing up was gift enough. I bought a present, regardless. I took it all upon myself. Oh, the pressure. I felt stressed. I lost sleep thinking about what to get as the present. All for what was supposed to be a fun Christmas party.
And don’t even get me started on figuring out what to wear to each party. Would a dress, a skirt, or a nice pair of pants be appropriate? But then what about the hair? And I would have to wear makeup, of course. Again, today, I ponder about all of this.
Would anyone have cared if I hadn’t worn makeup? I certainly didn’t put on mascara for myself; I’ll tell you that. Instead, it was more that I didn’t want to be judged for not dressing “the part.” And the part is one that I created. Or, more likely, that I feel pressured by society to partake in after seeing photos in magazine articles of perfect females dressed up from head to toe at holiday parties. Yes, they always have makeup on, of course.
Are Other Women Stressed Too at the Holidays?
So then I started to think, I need some inspiration here, something to get me out of this funk of putting all of these demands on myself. I looked for articles about women to see how other females were coping with the holidays and whether they were having more of a relaxing time than I. To say that I was disappointed with the results is putting it mildly. I was actually disturbed by what I read online.
Here is what I found:
- The results of a study that found one-third of women would consider not going to a Christmas party if they were menstruating at the time.
- A study determined that women spend about three months over their lifetime Christmas shopping. And men are 24 days less than that, by the way.
- Results of a poll of 2,000 women showed that women spent twice as long planning what to wear to a party as they did for the actual event.
Just looking at these articles again makes me feel a little queasy. Of course there are also messages around us of females being beautiful as we are, exactly as we are, and they are wonderful! I love the inspiring posts on social media that say these kinds words. But, if we really believed it, then why would we as women keep putting so much pressure on ourselves to look good for others and get the perfect gifts for the holidays?
Trying to Find a Consensus
There seems to be a disconnect between two media messages. There are the glossy magazine covers of airbrushed models and actresses that line the shelves at the grocery stores and bookstores.
Then there are empowering songs like “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, as well as campaigns that stress a woman’s beauty is inside her, namely in her mind. It can all be confusing, not just for girls but for adult women too. Somehow we need to find a way to alleviate the pressure put on woman at the holidays.
Does any of this strike a chord with you?