Hey, you. Your cupcakes are stressing me out. Your domestic achievement stands before me like an obtainable beacon of perfection. Your cupcake says to me:
“Hey! Look! I’m a Mormon domestic and I make beautiful things on the first try. Every cupcake I make is better than any cupcake you could make, because I used tweezers to individually place each sprinkle. And don’t worry, it’s a gluten-free cupcake, but I still managed to make it taste amazing. Come! Come one, Come all! And realize that when you partake of this particular batch of joy, you are also imbibing an extra dose of self-consciousness, because deep-down, you know that you’ll never create something so singularly perfect as this.”
Probably, in all honesty, what your cupcake meant to say was:
 “Oh my gosh, I made a pretty thing for once in my life, or I happened to have exactly four pretty cupcakes in a batch of twenty, and so I am going to prove to the world that I have somewhat awesome potential by editing this photo and posting it on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterst so that hopefully someone will stroke my self-confidence—because, well, to be perfectly honest, this is an area of my life where I am not used to accomplishing much.”
Friends, I would know. Because I am guilty of posting the following picture on facebook//blog/instagram/pinterest:

I spent several minutes assembling this adorable box you see, and then selecting which were my best cupcakes to publicize. I’m part of the phenomenon—I AM THIS PHENOMENON—the phenomenon that only celebrates my successes publicly, keeping (or attempting to keep) my failures a private secret. Why am I so keen to put my best face forward online all the time? 

Because everyone else is doing it. And it’s stressing us all out.
Men: You might actually be exempt from this particular societal observation. Hence, this blog is not catered to you. But ladies, I’m not just talking about cupcakes here. Cupcakes are a metaphor for (insert whatever you feel self-conscious about here).
For me, I didn’t reallyfeel the sting of inadequacy until I got married—and not because Jeremy made me feel this way. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but whenever I overcooked the eggs or pulled the laundry out of the machine too late, I’d feel a tremendous amount of pressure. Whenever I came home and the hallway smelled good because my neighbors had cooked something awesome, I allowed that to be something awesome that I had not done. Husband and I call it “Wifeyness,” this pressure that I put on myself to be The Perfect Homemaker. The pictures on facebook of other’s successes started to infect me…. I felt inadequate, so I posted a couple of pictures of my own cupcakes. Let someone else feel inadequate for the evening, I think I thought subconsciously.
The fickle thing about indulging in self-consciousness is that it bleeds into areas where you previously felt confident. As women, I really do believe that we are asked to “Do It All” these days. The demands on the modern LDS women are intense:
  • ·      Our religion asks us to be a nurturer. There are a ton of sub-responsibilities in this category.
  • ·      Our religion’s culture asks us to be a homemaker, and I suggest that you that there is a difference between nurturer and homemaker.
  • ·      Society says we need to be working women, severe, pencil-skirt wearing, ambitious feminists.
  • ·      Society suggests that we need to be friendly, affable, social party-goers, because there is something wrong with introverted women that prefer good books to good booze.
  • ·      We are made fun of by men for being “overly-emotional,” and Heaven forbid, we have tempers.
  • ·      The University asks us to be high-achieving, good-grade obtainers.
  • ·      The Media suggests we need to be sexy, yet also guarders of virtue.
  • ·      The world makes us feel like we should be skinny at all times, in all places, in all bikinis. 

What a silly expectation. WHAT SILLY EXPECTATIONS.
And we are expected to do this in heels, yet. No wonder the “Claire” from Modern Family, and “Debra” from Everybody Loves Raymond stereotypes exist. A tremendous amount of pressure is placed on women these days. And so once we internalize these things, if we are not one, or two, or all of these things, we are bad at being a woman, or a bad woman. Too often we confuse this: In the woman’s mind, Bad (Homemaker, Feminist, Skinny Person, Super Model, Etc) = Bad Person.
I need you to understand something: I desperately want to be a pencil-skirt wearing domestic, a hard-hitting career woman by day, mommy-dearest (not the crazy type) by night. I want to be a sexy protector of virtue that is a writer, seamstress, photo-shopping professional mother. I want to be a healthy eating, fitness guru who can actually keep my house clean! 

But here’s the important part: Even without the tug-of-war of influences, I think I would want to do this just for me. These influences, when I allow them to, just help to give me a complex about it—because I am not there yet. And neither are you. And that’s ok.
These are not “new” ideas. As women, we “know” in our heads that we are doing this to ourselves, that we are allowing our understanding of our personal divine natures to be corrupted by the published accomplishments of others. I suppose the difference here is that this blog seeks to publish it all:The epic achievements as well as the epic failures. Because life is a process, and the process deserves to be celebrated just as much as the mastery. Successes and Failures, it’s all part of being a woman. In fact, a healthy combination of the two probably makes us really fantastic women.

So, You! You out there, the amorphous, talented, beautiful, smart, hard-working, domestic-goddess in development, this blog is for you. Because, you, like us, like everyone else, aren’t “there yet,” wherever “there” is for you. If you’re not there yet, that is ok.  We aren’t there yet either.  

*This blog post is the premise to an upcoming blog I hope to co-author soon. Stay tuned.

  1. May 15, 2012
    Molly Belle

    Amazing post!

    Claire Dunphy. I am Claire Dunphy. My boyf and I can hardly watch the show together because it's so disgusting how much I relate to her character. I even have her mannerisms. I wasn't always a Claire Dumphy. I was a……wow- a Haley Dunphy.

    And I may not be a housewife yet, but I absolutely blame my Claire Dunphy attributes on the expectations I have set for myself in preparing to become the perfect woman.

    I wish there was a way to let it all go though, you know? To not care to compare. The stress of it all is going to mess up my cortisol and give me that stubborn belly fat that none of the sexy house wives and mothers have.

  2. May 15, 2012

    Guilty. And I'm sure you've heard this before, but you are a really great writer! So even if you aren't very good at making dinner, like me, at least you've got that!! 🙂

  3. May 15, 2012

    This is what I have posted on My Style Pinboard:


  4. May 15, 2012

    Awesome, Sierra. It's weird how we feel like it's okay to compare our weaknesses with the strengths of the hundreds of people out there on the internets. Scary.

  5. May 15, 2012

    Well said. Very well said.

  6. May 15, 2012

    Ha Ha–it is so much better when you get to be my age. My friends and I get a good laugh about all the years we spent trying to create the illusion of perfection (actually–they did, I mostly didn't bother). Now, none of us bother. We just happily live our lives and don't care whether or not anyone is impressed. Being old is awesome.

  7. May 15, 2012
    Kels H.M.

    First, hey, I love you.

    Second, as I sat here reading this, wearing a pencil skirt (jean, but still…), waiting for the vanilla ice cream to refreeze so I could finish making an ice-cream & strawberry & chocolate pudding & whipped cream pie, I realized you are so very right. Not that I didn't recognize the strange tug-of-war all of these pressures put on us before (haven't we all noticed that the most common pins on pinterest are dessert recipes… & work out/diet plans?). But I still fall into the trap of comparing all of my failures with others' stellar successes. I've gotten all squishy myself in trying to cater to my husband's sweet tooth, and I just can't help feeling like I'm disappointing him, no matter how much he protests.

    Some day I may figure out the balance of this homemaker/sexy/skinny/virtuous/wifeyness thing. But in the meantime, thanks for sharing. It really is okay. Quite a great life, even.