The desirable ideal of a woman: do I have to do all of it?
"Women’s fashion in the 1980s was still significantly shaped by individual freedom. This was able to be seen, among other things, in the fact that it was socially accepted if women did not wear a bra or shave. Nowadays, there are significantly more ideals a woman needs to meet”, says Karin Macke.
Nowadays, social norms paint a picture that is difficult to replicate: women should always look after their bodies as well as possible, cope with balancing their family and their job, be loving in their relationships... and that’s far from everything.
“Women are also raised in a way that means they are plagued with permanent feelings of guilt if they do not meet all of these ideals. Their efforts are also constantly channelled into the wellbeing of others and they do not look after themselves enough,” says Karin Macke.
Social Media like Instagram also has an impact, particularly on young women. “Every woman is fighting for herself alone – a first step is to talk to one another, get together and to see that other people feel the same,” recommends the expert. This is also why courses and discussion groups are run on a regular basis at Frauen beraten Frauen.
Macke thinks information is also hugely important: “You should realise that in our neoliberal economic system certain images are maintained to sell certain products well.” In other words, the ideal image of a hairless body to sell razors to women.
In a further step, it is important to focus on your own desires and needs: What do I personally think looks good? How do I love myself, what do I like about myself?
“Women need to learn to put less faith in what other people say and to love themselves more.”
People are also valued when they are 100% themselves, and when they do right by themselves and not others.
If you need to talk about this topic, contact one of the Austrian family counseling centers free of charge.
Our interview partner
Karin Macke is a psychotherapist, coach and counselor at Frauen*beraten Frauen* in Vienna.
The interview was conducted in May 2022.