Why You Should Stop Trying to Look Perfect

My sister and I had grand plans for the first two weeks of January. We were going to hit the ground running with an alcohol detox, a healthy vegan diet, daily gym visits, and a renewed focus on our respective careers. Everyone knows that a new year means a new you, right? However, a family medical emergency threw everything out the window. Neither of us washed our hair or put on makeup for a week, so working out and eating quinoa kale bowls were hardly priorities. It got me thinking: Why is there so much pressure on women, in particular, to reinvent themselves every January?

A recent New York Times op-ed by acclaimed author Jennifer Weiner discusses the topic. She wonders when women can stop trying to look so perfect, and cites the media’s obsession with actress Carrie Fisher’s appearance in Star Wars and Oprah Winfrey’s public involvement with Weight Watchers as signs that women will continue to be pressured into looking good. “The truth, as any woman can tell you,” Weiner writes, “is that there’s no place, no profession, nowhere that a woman’s looks don’t matter.”

She believes it’s up to the everyday modern woman to take matters into her own hands. “What if, instead of investing in paid diets and microdermabrasion, we donated our dollars to worthy charities and gave our time to the food pantry or elementary school? What if we thought about adding things to our lives—new foods, new skills, new classes, new walking routes—instead of taking things away? In 2016, let’s look beyond the superficial and all resolve to make more of ourselves, not less.” Amen, sister. I couldn’t agree more.

Get more Jennifer Weiner by reading her most recent novel, Who Do You Love.

Do you feel societal pressures to always look good?