Newsflash: being a woman can be hard. Yeah, you’re probably not all that surprised, are you? It might not be quite as much of a man’s world as it used to be but it’s still impossible to deny the struggles and difficulties that women face throughout their lives. A lot of the time these kinds of things are big, obvious problems. The wage gap, the increased risk of sexual assault, and the lack of female representation in media are all things that it’s pretty much impossible not to notice. (Unless, of course, you’re actively trying to avoid noticing them!) But one thing that gets swept under the rug far too often is the amounts of tiny little things that women have to deal with every single day. These tiny microaggressions can build up and have a seriously negative impact on your life over time. The worst thing about them is that it’s frighteningly easy to go your entire life without ever consciously realizing that you’re either having to deal with these things or that you’re actually doing them yourself. Being able to avoid falling into the trap of putting these little pressures on the women around you is just as important as making sure to avoid them yourself. To help you avoid both of these things, here are some of the microaggressions that women deal with on a near daily basis.
How many women in your life do you know who don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without a full face of make-up? Maybe you’re one of those women yourself. Okay, now who has ever left the house without makeup on only to spend the day dealing with comments like “are you feeling okay? Is everything alright? You look so tired!”? In all likelihood, any woman who’s gone to work, or even to see friends and family, without makeup on has had to deal with these kinds of things. This comes down to the fact that, because of the saturation of perfect faces and bodies in the media, a lot of people, men especially, don’t actually realize what a woman without makeup looks like! Even images that are meant to be “all natural” usually involve at least some subtle foundation and concealer. There are people bucking this trend in a fantastic way. Alicia Keys has recently started refusing to wear makeup for photoshoots and events, proving that it’s possible to be beautiful without anything on your face. Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t wear makeup, or that makeup isn’t great. Makeup is awesome! But there’s a big difference between enjoying how makeup makes you look and feeling pressured into having to wear it so that you can leave the house.
Every woman has heard this phrase at least a hundred times throughout their lives. Women are expected to look a certain way and, in many people’s minds, that means that they need to eat a certain way as well. A phrase like “you sure you’re gonna eat that?” might seem totally innocuous but it carries the implied judgment that eating whatever it is that you want somehow goes against how you’re supposed to be living your life as a woman. This is just one example of a whole range of ways in which people try to police women’s bodies. Of course, it’s incredibly important to remember that the only person who should have control over your body is you. This is the same attitude that encourages women to go under the knife when they don’t really want to. Once again it has to be said that there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight or have any kind of cosmetic surgery, as long as it’s the right choice for you. Something like http://www.roxyplasticsurgery.com/services/breast-augmentation/ is something that you need to take a lot of care and thought over and only if you’re sure that it’s what you really want. The biggest mistake that you can make is to let anyone else try to dictate what you can do with your body.
Is there a more classic way to make a woman feel small and powerless than to call her “sweetheart”? Just adding this one, deeply condescending word to the end of a sentence can completely undercut any power that a woman has in a situation. You could be someone incredibly important in your workplace, but if your boss or co-worker calls you something like that, it immediately makes you seem as though you’re somehow less important than they are. The worst thing about it is that the people around you might not even realize that it’s happening. They just start seeing you differently without understanding what’s happened. Not only that but the people who said it might not have realized either. The kind of power dynamics that lead to phrases like this might simply be so ingrained that they engage in them without even thinking about it. When this happens, the most important thing to do is to confront whoever used a phrase like that and remind them, and everyone else, that you are an adult and have no interest in being treated like a child.
The best way to fight back against these kinds of microaggressive pressures is to be as aware of them as possible. If you’re having these kinds of things placed upon you, then it’s important to push back against them. However, it’s just as important to identify the places where you might be doing and saying things like this and try to get to the root of why you might be doing it. No matter what, these kinds of little pressures might not seem like a big deal, but they all add up to making the lives of thousands of women across the world far more difficult than they should be. Once you know how to spot them, you’re in a much better position to fight back and avoid letting them continue to be a part of everyday life.