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"Superwoman is the adversary of the women's movement."- Gloria Steinem


I saw the episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter last night with Gloria Steinem and it resonated with me so much. I immediately posted her quote “Superwoman is the adversary of the women’s movement.” on Facebook and I was not surprised that it also resonated with my friends. They were quick to comment with “I saw that too!” “I completely agree!” and more.

The point of her statement was that women are now facing the dilemma of being able to “have it all” and they want to do it all perfectly. But that idea of the “Superwoman” that can be perfect in her career, and her home, and her marriage, and with her children, is unrealistic and ultimately hurting us as women.

The term, superwoman, was coined by author, Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz who wrote the book, The Superwoman Syndrome, published in 1984. The best-selling book was “for women trying to do it all – how to decide what’s important in your life and do it well.”

This idea of a superwoman came from the second wave of the feminist movement which involved sexuality, family, work, and reproductive rights. The feminist movement had a profound effect on women and we can see a new generation facing different circumstances than any women before. Today, more women earn bachelors degrees than men and in 2010, women surpassed men for the first time in the American workforce. (

What do we do with all of this opportunity? We try to juggle it all- we want a thriving business, a beautiful home, happy well-rounded children, and a husband that adores us. Instead we are more stressed than ever and facing the fear of failure on many fronts.

Have you ever noticed that if a friend posts something on Facebook about their failure to make a “perfect, healthy” meal for their children that night, that many women jump right in to support her with tales of their own pizza delivery call or instant mac n’ cheese menu? We are sure that other women are doing it right and that we are the only ones falling short. Thank goodness for a little dose of social media once in awhile so we can get a reality check on how many other women are struggling to just get it all done too. Although we often only see the pictures that a friend posts of her beautiful children in perfectly coordinated and clean! clothes. “How does she do it?!” is what we think. We forget to remember the reality that this was probably a special day and not how her children look all of time.

I think the most important thing to remember is that we can just as easily take off the Superwoman cape and relieve ourselves of this pressure. Here are some tips from that will help these Superwomen have more fulfilling lives:

• Keep life simple
Begin leading a simpler and less chaotic life by starting with a life mission statement. In this mission statement, make a list of survival roles, or actions and behavior to get through day by day. Next, write down everything that is vital to obtaining prescribed lifetime goals. Finally, list areas of life that do not need to be done or can be let go. Then when this is done, begin a new game plan. Write this plan as if for a best friend. Watch for time wasters. Learn to say “no” often and without guilt. Reward new behavior. Live with the “needs” and do not complicate life with the “wants.”

• Pay attention to each day
First, get up earlier to allow some quiet, private time before leaving for work. Spend some time looking or going outside. What kind of day is it? What types of clouds are in the sky? Are there special sounds? Learn to pay attention to the “now”…do not be a “clock watcher.” Regulate the number of items on the “to do” list. During lunch, avoid talking business, eat slowly and take a full hour. Go to lunch with an enthusiastic staff member. Make a list of “hyper habits” that include too much rushing around. Share this list with a friend, and make a contract to alter some of these conflicting behaviors and to slow down. Find a specific area near work, such as a park, where it is possible to go alone for some quiet time. Post written reminders at home on the mirror that state, “Today, I am going to be in a good mood.” Be willing to say “no” when necessary. Ask for help when needed and delegate whenever it will be an advantage. Finally, before falling asleep, give thanks for one small or large success that occurred that day. Keep everything as simple as humanly possible.

There are so many benefits that will come from stepping off the treadmill and enjoying life without having to do it all. Women need to throw away their Superwomen costumes and keep life simple with a daily “no” and more concern for their own well-being.

I personally found this advice helpful but a little daunting. How is there possibly time in the day for me to take an hour lunch or look at the clouds?!? But then the “duh!” came to me. I have to make the time and stop worrying if the favors I made for the preschool class party are perfect enough. Let me know what you think- how do you avoid the Superwoman trap? Have you struggled with this too?

Have a wonderful day and go check out the clouds!






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