- Women's Health
Why Girls Have It Bad; But It Can Be Better
There are many reasons why at certain times in my life, I have despised being a female. After much discussion with my female friends and relatives, I have found I am not alone. Here are some of the things that make life so hard on girls, and ways we could make it easier on ourselves.
Why So Much Pressure About Appearance?
It's clear that in the image department, guys clearly have it easier than girls. In the Western society I live in, the pressure to maintain the perfect body, makeup and clothes can be stifling. According to the Statistics Portal, the cosmetic industry in the United States had a revenue of 60 billion dollars last year. Why do women have to coat their faces in paint to look acceptable? Men do not (well, the majority anyway). Why aren't we questioning this? Clearly this is a business that is thriving off a cultural expectation of our gender. Frankly, I don't buy it. This pressure about our appearance has led to eating disorders, insecurity, financial strain, unhappiness, jealousy, fierce competition among girls, depression, anxiety, marital discord, and a host of other problems. Who decided that as a woman, you should shave your legs, wear makeup, style your hair, pick the right clothes and maintain an impossible body weight?
Here's what I say:
1) Forget the makeup, UNLESS you just do it for fun. It can be fun to get made up sometimes, but it should not be an every day necessity. If you want to get up, put on clothes, eat some breakfast and head out the door with not a stitch of makeup on, you should be able to without feeling bad about yourself.
2) Who cares what's in style? Make your own style. Why do we all attempt to look the same by following a "fashion trend" someone we don't know has decided looks good? Am I the only one questioning this? Right now, skinny jeans and scarves are big. I don't like either one. In my lifetime, knee-high socks, teased bangs, stone-washed jeans, high-top shoes, boot cut jeans, neon colored shoes, and now tights have gone in style, then out. Is there a source of this madness? Who decides these things? Personally, I like comfortable clothes in nice colors. I absolutely, positively, will not wear shoes that hurt my feet in the name of fashion. I used to try to fit all the different molds, but I just can't anymore, nor do I want to.
3) There's a wide range of healthy weight levels, and the "trendy skinny" is not one of them. If this unusually skinny theme is an attempt to attract men, perhaps we should poll some of them. I'm pretty sure men would prefer a healthy, curvy woman to an almost skeletal skinny woman. Let's face it, the weight issue has gotten way out of hand. A woman's body is designed to bear children, and that does not happen properly when you are underweight. And once you have had a baby, good luck trying to achieve the current supermodel standards of weight. Our bodies are softer BECAUSE of the extra weight we carry as fat tissue. As long as we are healthy, we should be happy with our size. To calculate your appropriate weight, visit http://www.calculator.net/ideal-weight-calculator.html.
Oh No, It's Aunt Flow
I think husbands and men just cannot grasp what it is like to live with a monthly hormone cycle. If my husband gets even a hint of sickness, he's in bed. Yet, at least two weeks of the month, women are dealing daily with various symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, muscle cramping, feelings of anxiety and irritability, exhaustion and fluctuating appetites. Do they get to hide out in bed? No way! We still get to be mommies, wives, students and employees despite feeling like we've been hit by a bus. Women learn to work through the physical symptoms while continuing to handle all of their responsibilities. And let's not forget childbirth. We get to go through pregnancy and childbirth, and then while our body is trying to recover from the trauma of birth, we get to care for a demanding infant. Pretty much every mom I know is dying for a day in bed, alone, with junk food and movies or books. Without doing something expensive and drastic, we can't get rid of this vital function of our bodies. But I have found ways to make my days easier whenever those symptoms come flaring up. Here are some things I've learned to do:
1) Breathe. When I start to get really bad cramps, or I am working as a substitute teacher and I have a wave of nausea come on, I pause a minute and take a deep breath where my stomach expands and not just my lungs. This is called abdominal breathing and is taught to people with anxiety, like me. But I have found that this kind of breathing can also ease nausea and cramping. I'm guessing that the relaxing effect the deep breathing has also relaxes those stomach and uterus muscles that are causing problems.
2) Take time everyday to actually focus on relaxing your body. Whether it's massaging your feet, taking a warm bath, deep breathing, brushing your hair, rubbing the back of your neck, listening to relaxing music with your eyes closed....it's important that your body reach a state of deep relaxation everyday. Yes, it is possible to even sleep through the night not in a relaxed state. You do not, however, reach the deeper, restorative levels of sleep that you need if you aren't fully relaxed. In order to help your hormones stay regulated, you need to take care of your body. As women, we tend to take care of everyone else and neglect ourselves. But really, we can't function at our optimal levels without relaxation and restorative sleep.
3) Make sure you are taking a multivitamin. If you are like me, it is incredibly hard to eat right, and even if you eat healthy, you don't necessarily include the wide range of foods needed to supply all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. When your body is operating at its best, period symptoms will not be near as drastic. I have done better handling my symptoms and had more energy since I began a daily multivitamin.,
Too Much Competition; Are Guys Really Worth It?
Women, including myself, can be prone to fall into the jealousy trap. They analyze the women around them, especially if they are in the presence of their husband, to see how they rank in appearance. Of course, it's always nice to feel you are the most attractive woman in the room and that any men that happen to be around are checking you out. Shallow, I know. But almost second nature. Then, if they happen to notice their husband looking at another woman, or paying another woman attention, out comes the jealousy monster. Here is my response to this situation:
1) If your man is checking out or giving too much attention to another woman, it is HIS problem, not yours. It does not mean you have to play the "who is the most attractive" game. Instead of turning against your fellow gender, how about turning against your man. Perhaps you can ask him if he really wants you as his woman. If he says yes, then suggest that he behaves in a way that reflects that. You deserve to be treated better. And you do not have to compete with other women for his eyes or attention. I think women need to stop looking for attention from men other than their husbands or boyfriends, and develop healthier relationships with the women around them.
2) Stop the whole mean girl thing. In a group of women, there is usually at least one that fits the narcissistic, queen bee role that can tear down others either to their face or behind their backs. I have never been one of these types of females but I have been around plenty of them. They make being a female miserable. All I can say to this is STOP. I don't know how to change these people, but we can stop giving them their power. If we start ignoring that behavior and stop worshiping the ground they walk on, they will begin to look pretty ridiculous and petty.
We Are Viewed As The Weaker Sex
It really is a man's world. Women are taken advantage of in all kinds of ways in our society. We are used as sex objects and put up with way more than we should in our relationships with men. Some people claim our position in society is because of the Bible. I believe this is completely untrue. The Bible clearly gives overwhelming value to women, it just outlines a different role for each of the genders. While the man is to provide for and love his woman as he loves himself, the woman is to support and respect her husband. No, I think the devaluing of women has come from ungodly men who have taken advantage of women throughout the ages. While physically, yes in general women are weaker than men, that is the ONLY way we are weaker. We can be independent and whole apart from a man. It is really, really hard to be a mother, and being a good one is even harder. It's been said that if it were up to men to be pregnant and have babies, our population would have died off a long time ago. Here my thoughts in counteracting this issue:
1) Stop dressing like prostitutes. The fact is, men are visual. When we dress like sex objects, we are treated like sex objects. Now for some women, that is their goal. But if you would like to be treated like a real person by a member of the opposite sex, don't distract them with your body all the time. There are ways to look really good without putting sex into it. There are sleazy clothes and there are nice, stylish clothes. If you don't believe me, take a look at Princess Kate. Because of her role in that society, she is purposefully dressed respectfully. Her clothes do not portray a sexy woman, but rather a lady. Still a beautiful lady, just not a sex object.
2) Learn to be happy without a man. I could not have achieved this as a teenager, but I think it is important for us to know we do not need a male to make us whole. We can be happy and complete as our own person. If we could manage this, we might make better decisions when choosing our mate. Desperation would never be a factor in who we date. And we would stop looking desperate.
So What Do You Think?
Being a woman is hard. But we make things a lot harder on ourselves than they need to be. I think we need to break some of these chains that keep us struggling to be happy, whole and healthy. So what do you think? Am I just blowing a bunch of hot air, or do women really have it harder than men? Cast your vote!