True Strength Ain’t In Them Muscles
Traditionally strength is displayed as the six pack-toting (and I’m not talking Heineken) bulging-armed hero who sweeps in (not literally, though a swishing broom and some completed chores would be a nice touch) to Save The Day. To rescue those of us weaklings who are simmering in our own inabilities… Even when a woman is involved strength is often conveyed through images of forceful presence or dangerous ones in which women are portrayed as being able to do it all (for everyone else but themselves, of course). Strong women are supposed to solve the world’s problems, right? Vacuum the house while breastfeeding at least one child, simultaneously cooking the evening’s meal for their household (and packaging extras to send to several in-laws and shut-ins), having a work zoom conference, accepting three of the invalid neighbour’s Amazon orders, ordering birthday party invites and all the trimmings for a toddler’s celebration, and texting their personal trainer for the next week’s schedule, right? This is Strength, isn’t it?
I love this poster of Rosie but, really, is this vision of strength not simply replacing a male figure with a female one within the same physical expectations (and more)? Rosie, perfectly coiffed and made up, probably just ironed three of her too-ill-to-go-to-war father-in-law’s Sunday shirts, tucked a roast into the oven, and dusted behind the slipper shelf…and all ready for her factory shift to help out the nation!
I believe true Strength looks a lot different than this… my version of True Strength involves letting go of control, humbling yourself, and asking for help without, or even because of, a fear of being seen as “weak”.
Letting Go of Control First, let me clarify: I am NOT talking about handing over the reigns to someone and letting whatever happens happen…Please do not misunderstand me and think I’m shouting “Screw all this work women have done in the race for unholy feminism…Misogyny Rules!” NOPE. Anyone who even slightly knows me knows that baloney will remain in the fridge crisper, edges becoming a rock hard cage for the mould-filled centre, eating away at itself… I am talking about micromanaging. There is a freedom in understanding that we don’t have to do it all and that handing control to another is a force of power and strength. When your child dons their own clothing, even if you despise the combination of red polka dots and pink stripes and purple ripped tutu, they are becoming independent. You are lessening your control, and demonstrating Strength.
Humbling Yourself I’m sure it’s only moi that’s ever had to admit she is wrong, right? I’m sure none of you have ever made a mistake and then, cowering into a bit of a pretzel, had to blurt out a deeply-felt apology? Just me, then? In a culture where right-ness is considered strong, it takes guts, albeit emotion-infested guts, to admit your error. “Humility learns…humility listens” Dan Rockwell. And aren’t learning and listening components of strength?
Being “Weak”/Asking for Help Humans were made for community. And yet in our society/culture asking for help is seen as weak. Having the courage to supersede the expectation that we can and should do it all — on our own — is not an easy thing. There will be naysayers and those who whisper “Oh, Princess, you need to put on your Big Girl Panties and just Do. It. All.” There will be those who are jealous of your newfound, and ever-expanding, Asking For Help Muscle. There will be those, boiling over with Pride, who just won’t get that you, how dare you, ask for help. And then there will be those compassionate and incredible souls who will help out and become a part of your journey, and you of theirs.
When we show that as women we are able to let go of control and uplift others, humble ourselves, and reach out and ask for help we are demonstrating…we are becoming bastions of…True Strength. You don’t need biceps bigger than a bag of bagels…True Strength ain’t in them muscles!