Showing posts with label having it all.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label having it all.. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'Having It All' - A Society Standard Gone Wrong?

New title for me - gym junkie. Look at me go!

Actually, no not really - I'm lying. I'm there by the skin of my teeth and if ANYONE was to utter the sentence "Free for a coffee?" at school drop off, the gym would be ditched quicker than Kim Kardashian's ex-husband. Nonetheless, I was there this morning and as I clumsily did my fifteen minute Cliff Young-esque shuffle, I was drawn to a segment on Mornings featuring a panel of guests including the lovely and wise Lisa Wilkinson. I always tend to agree with EVERYTHING Lisa says and even though she was muted by the gym's annoyingly loud 80's megamix (granted, agreement with Ms. Wilkinson was a little more challenging without sound) today was no exception.

The crux of the segment seemed to be about how Jennifer Aniston is portrayed by the media to be downtrodden and sad because although she is defined as 'successful', she hasn't yet fulfilled some society-assumed standard goal of having children and therefore she has supposedly failed to reach the top of the 'having it all' pyramid.  This got me (and the panel) thinking:

How do we really know Jen's own personal definition of 'having it all'

How do we as women personally define 'having it all' for ourselves?

What IS the 'all', and more importantly, WHY does it seem to be the pinnacle of living your best life? 

My immediate thought while watching the segment, was that everyone's definition of 'having it all' is different so why does the media in particular seem to have one set of definitions for us to aim for, especially as women?  As Lisa so wisely put it, the 'having it all' standard is like an "albatross around women's necks". I dare say the successful career, the bikini body, money, a happy relationship and kids probably doesn't apply to as many people as the average gossip mag would suggest. Surely we're all aiming for different things in different stages of our lives? Some women might be perfectly happy to be on their own, without children. Some might prefer to live a simple life where possessions are an unnecessary burden.  God forbid, perhaps some of us are aiming for more spiritual fulfilment, or even for the fulfilment of others? I'll admit that in my twenties, my definition of 'having it all' was sometimes about appearance and often a little materialistic - hard to admit but there it is. Nowadays however, 'having it all' for me is simply about health and happiness - not just for myself, but also for the people I love. I don't need the bikini body to feel fulfilled, I simply need enough money to cover the essentials, and my family balance takes precedence over the success of my career, without exception.

In the somewhat shallow assumption that we're all aiming for the same 'having it all' criteria, while watching the segment I immediately gave thought to women around the world, and the lunacy of the expression 'having it all' in countries where people are focusing less on their bikini body and more upon the day to day survival of their children or themselves. I mean really - if I was to discuss my own societal definition of 'having it all' with a mother living her life in the Congo or Syria for instance, my priorities over hers would seem utterly ridiculous wouldn't they? With that in mind then, what would the world standard of 'having it all' for women be?

I think we should encourage the media and perhaps society as a whole to choose a healthier set of guidelines when it comes to people (in particular women) living their best life, by their own standards. Perhaps 'having it all' should be more suitably defined as 'being your all' - that would sit much more comfortably with most of the women I know.