We love strong women.
We love that they can take care of themselves. We love that they can pay for their own meals. We love that they don’t care for praise or to be told that they are beautiful.
We love strong women because they relieve us of the care to do these things for them.
Because even though strong women deserve praise, deserve to be told that they’re doing a better job than any man could handle, that their work is helping, inspiring, encouraging others to be the best versions of themselves, that they are in fact positively beautiful (inside and out), we can’t be bothered to let them know.
When we do, it’s superficial. It’s a way to tell them that we’re seeing their efforts while our eyes are actually closed.
We hear their stories, but we don’t listen. They carry the strength to share their traumas, yet we fail to show interest in uncovering more. We fail to find out more about them – the nuances that make them unique – rather than their past which does not define their being.
Another strong woman with a sad story.
We love strong women, yet we fail to understand them. It’s not even a facade. We just don’t try to.
And so, what happens when the strength in these women falters? When strong women fall short?
What happens when the same women we never cared to think twice for are vulnerable? When, on the very, very rare occasion, they ask for help? When for once, they are facing a dilemma they can no longer, and don’t deserve to, face alone? Suddenly, when strong women have a problem, we no longer want to be involved.
We no longer love them. They’ve always been strong enough to deal with things alone. Now they need my help? It’s fine. They’ll be fine. They always have been.
Why do we do this? Why do we revere strong women so much yet are simultaneously afraid of them? Why do we love their strength so much up until it is us who needs to be strong for them? Why do we always expect them to “come out stronger” rather than come out unscathed?
Where in our distorted narrative of women did we normalise the idea of them having to be exceptionally strong? And yet, at the same time, we’re astounded by the moments they fall.
We forget that they are human too.
Yes, strong women should be celebrated. However, not at the expense of their desire to just simply be.
We should celebrate all aspects of their strength: their strength in grieving; their strength in pain; their strength in honesty and transparency in opening themselves up to others. We should appreciate their continuous selflessness; their ease in helping others before even helping themselves. We should acknowledge their struggles, and respect the decisions they’ve carefully made to protect themselves. We should hold strong women to the highest regard, no matter what kind of strong woman they represent.
Strong women are not some figures to be fantastically idealised.
They deserve much, much more than that.
We deserve people who will not fault us when we are not at our strongest. We deserve people who will see past their insecurities in a greater effort to understand us. We deserve people who will not see the protective measures and decisions we take as a threat to their character. We deserve to be loved unrelentingly by those who have come to realise that at times, we hardly understand ourselves. We deserve people that believe us when we say that life is so hard to navigate as a strong woman.
No, we do not love strong women. We only love the idea of them.