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I’m wondering if I could have some honest feedback from you regarding the feminine ideal and our self worth. How are you affected by the female image that has been fed to us since we were little girls (i.e. Barbie, princess, ballerina, model)? How do you separate yourself from this ideal, how do you disregard the ideal, how do you feel about the ideal?

It's easy to say, well I don’t concern myself with it because it doesn’t matter... but realistically, I believe every woman somewhere in her mind is affected by the impositions placed on us to be good little girls who do as we're told.

I would imagine you were raised in a very liberal environment? (Sorry if that's privileged information I am inquiring about.) But even if we are raised in a very progressive household, there is still the social pressure of which we need to contend. How do you deal with it?
   

I absolutely agree that those beauty/looks/image standards are something that no woman or really person escapes. There is too much in our culture to endorse and alternatively ridicule certain images and we can't avoid falling into perpetuating those narrow beliefs. And it does anger me when people pretend they aren't affected by those pressures, because even if you are rejecting them or fighting against them, you are still impacted. I don't think I have entirely rid myself of it, but I have learned to figure out what I am uniquely capable of.

For me, it really took being in an all-woman environment — be it sports teams and later at an all woman's college — where women are just very honest with each other ( "I like your butt" or "I wish I had those jeans"). Having that type of conversation made me realize that I did have "assets" and that as much as I admired something in someone else, they admired something in me. That exchange helped me to re-examine some of own impressions of myself. I also learned that I should compliment women — because when they hear the good stuff, they learn to rethink their own biases.

I also think that I have learned not to be competitive with other women — I don't need to have everything that my friend's have. I can take pleasure in what they have. With time I have also learned to care less....and I simply don't have time to obsess like I once did. And with all that said, I think that my mother did have a huge influence over me. She never wore make-up, didn't really care about clothes or fashion, didn't really exercise, etc. And while I made different choices, I also took note of what she did and how she didn't care.

— Amy