Guest Blog: The Pressure of Perfection

5 Feb

Hello! This is Lilipop and I would like to introduce our first ever guest blogger, Clara!

So hey! This is the first blog post I’ve pretty much EVER DONE so remember that as you read on. And thank you to Jelly and Lilipop for letting me ‘guest post’ on their brilliant blog.  

per·fect [adj., n. pur-fikt; v. per-fekt] adjective

1.
conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.
2.
excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.
3.
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber; a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.
4.
entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.
5.
accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.    

For most people it’s the greatest compliment: to achieve perfection is to be complete, to be everything people aspire to be, to be perfect is to the best you can be. But ‘perfection’ is entirely objective. Of course, society has its ideals of what it is to be perfect: beautiful, intelligent, skinny, not too hairy, organised, nice hair, popular, confident, kind, sporty (the list could go on), and yet of course ‘perfection’ is the most abstract idea society can create.  

Nobody’s perfect. And that saying, though cliched, cannot be more true.  

I suppose I’m writing this is because I have, on occasion, been called perfect. And in all honesty, I love it. I do. But I simultaneously hate it immensely.  Whenever I am called ‘perfect’ I must immediately prove I’m not- I’m terrible at sports, I hate my toes, I have a slight monobrow and I don’t think I smell very nice- the list goes on and on. My self esteem hangs in a precarious balance- it’s boosted when someone gives me a compliment, but lowered when I try to destroy that illusion by pointing out all my flaws. And whilst thats works most of the time, I just have to make sure I don’t let that balance control my life.  

I feel pressure from most people to be what they deem to be ‘perfect’. Everybody is ‘labelled’, and I know what my label is (and yes, as far as labels go I suppose mine is pretty good.) But it also means there is an expectation of what I should be like: If I make a mistake in school everybody points it out with glee; if I have a strong opinion on something people disagree with me, or worse, think I’m weird. I feel too scared to do something spontaneous, something dangerous and unexpected- because if I do the way I am perceived might change. My whole persona might be shattered, and the fragments I’ll be left with will plunge me into confusion. If I do something out of the ordinary, if I have something I am truly passionate about I might lose my ‘identity’, my ‘image’. I’m too scared to break out of this cage of simultaneous self-loathing and contentment.

In my I-hate-myself-poor-me-I’m-just-going-to-sit-here-and-cry moments I also feel that if I’m not deemed to be ‘perfect’ by people I am nothing. I’m not a particularly outgoing, fun, interesting person, so if people don’t see me as ‘perfect’ or ‘clever’ or ‘attractive’ I am worthless. This is the complete wrong attitude to have, and whilst I am aware of this I am also aware of the difficulty I will face my entire life- recognising that ‘perfection’ is not something that will ever define me.  

The whole idea of perfection annoys me. It drives people to insanity trying to be perfect. There is too much emphasis on perfection, when really it is the most objective ideal we can create. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by this idea of ‘perfection’: the ‘perfect’ celebrity on the cover of a magazine, the ‘perfect’ model on the catwalk, the ‘perfect’ person on their blog. Society’s idea of perfection does not allow for differences, quirks or eccentricity. I know I’m not perfect- nobody can be- but I know that I can strive for my own equivalent of perfection (a state at which I am perfectly content and feel that it is not worthwhile to toil and cry and sweat and compare in order to improve myself), and although I’ll never arrive, I can hope to get halfway. That’s all anyone can ask for I suppose.   I didn’t mean for this to turn into some sort of diary. But it has, and I hope somewhere in there there’s a deep meaningful message instead of a messy teenager spilling out her thoughts onto someone else’s blog.    

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3 Responses to “Guest Blog: The Pressure of Perfection”

  1. Catherine February 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    What a great post! As an older feminist it’s fantastic to see so many younger women exploring and reflecting on how society pressures them.
    It’s incredibly hard to fight the belief that we should be slimmer, fitter, more toned, more attractive. The search for perfection is one that will never end. And the very notion of perfection is one that is generally imposed by the patriarchy (and men) and we have to fight it.
    We have to try every day to accept ourselves for what we are. Our bodies are pretty perfect if you think about it – how amazing that we are alive!
    Keep fighting other people’s expectations of you, and remember how great you truly are.

    • Clara February 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      I completely agree, sometimes it is easier than other times to simply accept yourself (but it can be increasingly difficult when there are such pressures on girls in particular to be a certain way).
      You’re right- we need to take a step back and truly appreciate that we are alive, and that we have bodies which no matter what will always be beautiful and unique from others. Perfection is an ideal which we should not give much thought to- focusing instead on improving ourselves in a way that does not necessarily- meet the superficial expectations of others, but in a way that we feel comfortable with.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post (I must admit I was a little nervous as it was my first one and your lovely comment has definitely boosted my confidence!)

  2. Birmingham Dentist March 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Absolutely Yes, I agree with your statement, I am happy reading some blogs like this.

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