Completeness

Thank you Jennifer Aniston, for setting the record straight.

Not only on the unkind rumours of a pregnancy, but about the truth of a woman’s worth.

Whilst I personally could not be further from the powerful female figure that Jennifer is given her contribution to entertainment and popular culture, as simply a woman, I truly understand and often experience the pressures of being judged because of my physical appearance.

Admittedly, being of Asian descent and growing up in a diversified Australia in the nineties is incomparable to the harrowing stories of racial segregation and violence of times past (and unfortunately, still in certain cultures); but I have undeniably so, had my fair share of trials navigating the world whilst coming to terms with my own identity.

I learned about bullying early on in life, being one of two, maybe three students with an Asian background at my Primary school. Fortunately, my parents raised me with enough love and unshakeable faith that I had the strength to get through it, yet still, the teasing is a hurtful memory.

Later in my adolescence, I uncovered through a range of experiences, more and more of the underlying racial stigmas at play despite our increasingly multicultural society.

I had often doubted my passion and ability in music and performing, due to being overlooked without much rhyme or reason beyond the fact that I did not have the right image / physical beauty / marketability to make something of what I so loved to do.

I fell victim to all of the insecurities born out of others’ perception of me – which seemed to be solely defined by the way I looked.

The current me recognises the triviality of this notion, but truthfully, the issues beneath the surface still somehow affect me.

Inadvertently, I had carried such futile opinions of my physicality into my adulthood, whilst beginning to carve a career in the media and advertising industry.

Ambition and academic conviction (backed by unwavering support from my family and certain life mentors) meant that I could find enough courage to pursue my professional goals, however it wasn’t without those dark days where I had focused too much energy on how I was different to others, in the most inferior ways.

I rarely felt good enough, attractive enough, talented enough, wealthy enough, cultured enough, interesting enough or strong enough as I was pitted against my female peers. There were nights I cried to myself wondering why I decided to work in an industry where other women would always look down on me for all of the reasons listed above.

Maturity and a stronger sense of self eventually set in and though it’s still a work-in-progress, I have definitely learned to embrace what makes me unique and instead, focus on those qualities in order to be the best person I can be.

Jennifer’s recent declaration on The Huffington Post has resonated with my own thoughts about what it is that defines us as women – beyond what the media and in turn, a conditioned society, seems to dictate is ‘perfect’, ‘desirable’, ‘normal’ or ‘worthy’.

I am of the same belief that the fruition of womanhood cannot simply be reduced to getting married or bearing children – it is rather in ALL of that which makes us who we are, however we choose to live our lives, with soulful purpose and kind intent.

This is not an opinion that is to be seen as defensive just because I am indeed a woman whom at this stage in my life may not be thinking of marriage or motherhood, but it is a challenge to you, to understand that we are worth more than the labels that society, culture and commercial institutions place on us, merely because of an obstructed view – given the very narrow lens through which these people look at the world.

Women as well as men, need to strive harder to steer away from objectifying all women, where basic and ignorant commentary creates harmful stereotypes and assumptions about an individual’s purpose here on this earth.

As I am having to learn to accept who I am, where I’m from, what I can and cannot change about myself, I hope too that all people can learn that same acceptance of other women, to instead have empowering conversations that rise above matters of race, age, height, weight, social status, marital status and other such superficial topics that can isolate those who happen to make different personal choices.

A woman’s completeness is in her own contentment, her own values, her own understanding of herself and the world, and importantly, her own and unique vision of what it means to have a fulfilled life.

Completeness

helen reddy sang it best

As quite an independent woman, I always wonder about other women who choose to devote their lives serving a man. Traditional gender roles seem a thing of the past, but observing the relationships around me confirms that they are still very present in the modern day.

Let’s face it, we’re built with different parts – physically, mentally, emotionally – we’ve been designed to be both inferior and superior to the opposite sex in various ways. Though feminist ideals shape a lot of what I think and believe, I have accepted that there are certain things that I cannot perhaps manage as a woman, as well as things that are expected of me, given my femininity. I’d rather not detail exactly what these things are as they may differ for each individual, not to mention spark heated debate that is definitely not my intention for this post.

I suppose I just want to better understand why many women somehow feel incomplete without a man by their side. Indeed, humanity thrives on companionship and a sense of belonging but is loving a man and earning his love really the only source of personal validation?

Admittedly, I have no credibility whatsoever to be writing on this topic, I haven’t yet experienced this idea of true romantic love – it used to be something that I wholeheartedly and wistfully believed in (not that I am now at miserable cynic), but these days it all just seems a little cliche to me. Too much cheese (even for a self-confessed cheese-lover). *NB Previous post exempted.

I am also not the domesticated type, my cooking skills are nothing to be desired (well, if I actually possess them at all) and I just don’t have a flair for other various chores (ie. my aptitude for ironing and folding needs a lot of work). Hence, I feel that if I don’t enjoy performing these tasks for my own benefit, why on earth would I want to commit to fulfilling such duties for a man’s profitability? Ha, with that mindset I guess I won’t be winning any wife/mother-of-the-year awards anytime soon.

Perhaps I am deviating slightly. Truth is, this post is a reaction to something/a range of things that have been happening around me lately. Women I know who have been lured into relationships where the breadwinning male expects his wife to be his servant. Men who abuse them when they fail to keep up with their household responsibilities. Why do these women stay and serve?

It seems a little far-fetched that women here in Australia find themselves in these situations, it’s almost ludicrous given how progressed we are as a society. The heartbreaking thing is, domestic violence can happen anywhere and everywhere. No woman, regardless of  her education, status, race, appearance, is exempt from it – it takes just one enraged, heartless and deeply troubled man to inflict the pain. Not just the physical pain, but the emotional kind – that which creates a permanent dent in a woman’s self-worth and dignity; that which requires ongoing treatment even after the visible bruises are gone.

I would never want to devote my life to serve a man like that and I feel blessed that I have the choice not to. Though marriage and time can change things and people, I want to do everything I can to ensure that my partner and I commit to being each other’s servants, to create an environment of love, respect, patience, understanding and selflessness. To know that I am strong enough to get out of any environment that doesn’t breathe those very values.

So yes you could comment on my inexperience in the relationship/love game, I’m also none the wiser at 28 years old, but I have encountered enough in my life to know that one of the most important ingredients to happiness is this: Love Yourself.

My hope is for all women (myself included) to embrace who they are as individuals, regardless of a man’s opinion or society’s expectations. Learn to love who you are, independent of how others show love (or lack of), to you.

You are beauty and grace and strength, you are woman, what isn’t there to love?

helen reddy sang it best