By Jeanene Tracy

So, you’re a woman? Here’s some advice:

Don’t be too pretty, people will think you are out of their league,
Don’t be too ugly, no one will see you indeed.
Don’t be too kind, people will walk all over you,
Don’t be too mean, people won’t walk anywhere near you.
Don’t be too intelligent, people will feel threatened by you,
Don’t be too dumb, you’ll be threatened by others, it’s true.
Don’t be too intuitive, people will think you’re woo-woo.
Don’t be too naive, others will see right through you.
Wear makeup,
Don’t wear makeup.
Wear high heels,
Don’t wear high heels.

Oooohhh gee the list goes on…

And where does that leave us women? Filled with confusion, lack of satisfaction, and a sense of ‘who the heck am I?’. Intense advice, shooting in from all angles, blatant in things we read, watch, hear, and see—the message is simple, just be the best woman you can be.

But what does that actually look like? Who is the ‘perfect little lady’? The recent “Be a Lady, They Said” viral video starring Cynthia Nixon has undoubtedly inflamed this debate.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the ‘perfect woman’ varies, depending on who you ask. Ask men, women, aunties, uncles, grandparents, friends or family, and they most likely have different answers. Spread the search to different countries or different eras and the ideal woman will expand even more. If you look back to the 20th century, the concept of the perfect woman was decided on by men. We are still being told how to be accepted into society as women. No pressure. 

With such contradictory advice, what can you do to be the perfect woman? Here are a few suggestions to help you look beyond the myriad of instructions, and be the best version of you, that you can be.

Know Who Your Role Models Are, And Why

Take a look at who you adore, and ask yourself, “why do I like them?” What traits do they have that inspire me?  What is it about them that lights me up? If you were to emulate their behaviour, what would you need to do? How would you hold your body? How would you walk? How would you talk? 

There are wondrous clues in this for you. To be the best version of you, light up that inspiration in yourself. Ignore all the rules of who and how you need to be and tap into the parts of yourself that ignite when you see brilliance in other women. These are most likely the virtues that you love about you. 

For me, I am inspired by Lisa Nichols, she motivates me to speak my truth, to be vulnerable and most importantly, to connect to others with deep care.  How can I use that to my advantage, to nurture my ‘perfect little lady’? I examine the way she ‘sees’ people, how she engages in truthful conversations and then I do the same.

What role models do you have? If you need inspiration, check out these amazing ‘Women to Watch in 2020’. Ditch the confusing media fables and focus on these inspiring women. When you do this, you’ll be on your way to becoming your version of the ‘perfect woman’.

Know How You Feel And Respond To Opinions

When you read stories in the mags, watch news on the box or scroll past the shares on social media, which ones capture your attention? What triggers a response in you? Most likely, the things that provoke you are the elements of truth that are your version of being a woman of perfection. Some of these you will embrace and agree with, and others you’ll reject with disdain and even anger.  

I must admit when I heard about 22 Convention, it provoked something within me that I just couldn’t ignore. A group of men ‘selling’ advice to women on how they can be “biologically and naturally who they are meant to be as feminine beings”. They promise you will learn how to be ‘ultimate wife material’. The most intriguing part of this gathering, happening in 2020, is that all speakers are men. 

Ok, some women will embrace this advice, but me, no way! I am not sitting in a room listening to a group of men telling me who I should be, and how I should behave. But hey, that’s just me, and my point here is, you determine what is right for you. You decide.

Know What’s Important To You

You probably know by now at least, some things that are important to you. Take a good look at your life, and you’ll see clues in your habits. Stop and think about your dream day? What does it look like? Where is it, who is there, what conversations transpire? What makes you feel good about it? 

Truth leaves clues. Be the excavator, find the clues and let them be your guidance. In amongst all of the paradoxical messages—know what’s important to YOU! Don’t get pulled into the lies of what the perfect little lady looks like because ultimately, you do you. 

It’s great to see the language of the ideal woman is changing from ‘perfect’ to ‘empowered’, and thankfully this conversation is being explored more each year. The Leadership Institute is hosting a conference in Sydney, Australia this year to encourage exactly that. 

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m willing to adopt the advice of Oprah, and honour being myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks is best for me, unless of course, it’s someone who honours me too.