The myth of the perfect woman is one of the most widely told and believed lies that’s also dangerous and likely to cause harm to the psyche. In fact, it goes against every single rule of self-love, self-acceptance and healing. The perfect woman never cries, she never lets her emotions get the better of her; she doesn’t ruffle feathers and she never has moments where she seriously doubts or questions herself. In essence, she’s this put together entity with the ability to go through life without letting heartache affect her or without wanting to yell, scream and smash a few cars with a baseball bat named after a condiment. Here’s the thing though - this woman does not exist, she shouldn’t.
She’s not the ideal we should chase. Perfection is a flawed construct because it does away with self-expression, which is so important if we want to be happy and healthy. As women and people of color the pressure to be perfect is sizable - we have to work twice as hard because we have to jump so much higher to meet the standard. As Black-ish recently tackled, the pressure to be perfect also comes from the need to represent the minorities since the flaw-flashlight sometimes shines a lot brighter on us than it does on others.
Black women are followed around by the ratchet label and we often try combating it by making sure we’re dangerously perfect. We’ll avoid speaking out, avoid showing emotion even when it heals us and take everything in stride when we’re aching inside. Yes we’re strong, but the expectation of strength is sometimes so unnatural it feels like reaction is a punishable offense to the image of perfection.
Part of our beauty as women is our wonderful ability to be strong without being hardened, to be polished and glorious without being completely without flaws. From the outside we make it look easy, but there are times when we struggle to hold it all together and we allow ourselves to feel everything because it helps us heal. What I appreciate deeply about Lemonade was the celebration of healing through the brokenness by getting in touch with, and diving head first into each and every part of our emotions. When we walk through our emotions the way it was intended, we learn that anger leads to a necessary confrontation with pain which ultimately leads to an acceptance that comes with deeper self-knowledge and a broader capacity to love and appreciate ourselves and others.
I consider myself an advocate for emotion - because it’s never been a bad thing to me. I’ve seen so much healing lost in the “not gon’ cry” narrative, which leaves us with a world of people carrying hurt brimming to the top with no outlet or chance to face it. To be honest, most of us face the dark more than we’ll ever dare to admit, and in these moments - logic isn’t enough. Intuition, denial, anger, apathy and other emotions are needed during our worst times. We can’t accept the view that expressing these emotions in a healthy way is doing too much. Moreover, emotion is the mother of creativity, a fact that quickly dawned on many as Beyonce’s emotional expression whiplashed our senses and feelings last week.
Our protagonist Sandra learns that there’s power in delving in those deep, dark crevices of fears and pains because it brings a level of self-expression that often creates magic. After writing books that many saw as perfect, she writes No Lies Told Then from everything she found in those dark corners and she’s transformed by that outlet. I’ll never accept being told that I have to be perfect to be a good woman because that’s a blatant, disrespectful lie. What perfects me isn’t the ability to emulate a Stepford Wife; what makes me good is the bold knowledge that I’m made powerful by expressing my emotions. This expression won’t always be neat and pretty - sometimes it calls for ugly cries and painful words and I’m more than okay with that. I have no intention to be perfect - I just want to bask in the full experience of being me. As we all grow older we learn that being good doesn’t mean being perfect. It’s a lesson Beyonce is learning with us, and she provides a powerful soundtrack for each lesson.