Perfection Pressure

Originally, I was going to write about how to create without worrying about perfection, so I googled “How to perfect…” to see what would pop up. Over 4 billion results, the first being a wikihow article titled, “How to Be As Perfect As Possible” with over 300,000 views, last updated on March 3, 2019.

Reading through their 10 steps to being as perfect as possible, I got angry.

1.Pick out the clothes you will wear the next day before you go to bed.

Nothing crazy about this. I don’t think it relates to “perfection,” it’s more of a “life tip” but it’s not harmful to be advertising this message to people. However, the image is of a white woman holding a pink form fitted dress while wearing a slouchy green T. Immediately, readers see who this article is intended for. Women. And it’s implied that a “feel good outfit that you should prepare to wear for the next day” is girly, feminine, pink, and sexy. Expectations for what a “perfect woman” wears is shown in the image.

3. Make a schedule.

A life tip… at this point, I started to question how this article is about “Being as perfect as possible,” it seems more in line with “how to be productive” or “how to adult”. But this isn’t harmful language.

6. Be responsible.

This was more about drinking responsibly, not smoking cigarettes, and not bullying people. I just felt like this had an odd disconnect between the”step” and the description of it.

7. Take care of yourself.

The description for this is about physical appearance and how to maintain that appearance well.

8. Wear clothing that makes you look good.

9. Accent with makeup.

Very clear now who this article is for, and very irresponsible. Today, feminists are working towards normalizing self love. This “perfection tip” erases that effort and feeds into the societal pressures that push women to feel like they aren’t perfect the way they are. The common idea that if you wear makeup, dress a certain way, are thin, and smile, you will be accepted and loved is pushed in our faces.

This is why the entire premise of the article really upset me. And this isn’t the only article out there that pushes perfection. Most do.

We are constantly bombarded with ads and backwards norms that make people feel like they have to be a certain way in order to be “normal” or close to perfection. Men must be strong. Masculine. Muscular. Financially successful. Smell like axe. Be charming. Funny. Women must be thin. Have perfect skin. Be outgoing yet shy. Be happy at all times. Wear certain clothing. Smell like flowers.

“Buy this perfume/cologne and you’ll find love,” “Buy a gym membership or you’ll be lonely and fat,” “Buy this makeup to cover your imperfections because no one will think you’re attractive if you don’t,” “Buy this planner/meal prep container/roomba/weight loss pill/car. Buy this so that others see you as put together, perfect, and happy.”

Fuck that.

Perfection is a plague that has swept the nation with fake smiles and consumption. It causes tears and the sinking feeling that you aren’t worthy.

The idea of perfection causes people to hate themselves if they aren’t living up to the standards they see projected all around them. It causes people to leave comments like these:

Commenter: How can I lose weight to be as perfect as possible?

Wikihow: There are some great tips wikihow article “Lose weight safely.

Another commenter: How can I be perfect if I have mental issues?

Wikihow, no response

This is why the word perfect is harmful. There’s too much weight behind it. Too much pressure. And I know people say “Nobody’s perfect” but we all still strive to be perfect anyway, or as close to it as possible, and this is what I think is harmful.

Let’s not even consider perfection. Throw it out of your vocabulary!

Instead, focus on working and growing towards the person you want to be. Don’t think about being perfect. Just think about being a better you.

This can transfer to every facet of life that perfection pressure creeps into. Scared to start something you’ve always been interested in? Don’t worry about becoming perfect or even good at it…just do it for you. Worried about turning in an assignment, racking your brain to get it “perfect”? Ask yourself, is this better than my last assignment? If the answer is yes, just turn it in, don’t focus on perfection, focus on growth!

Remember to love each other, grow, and be kind.

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