As women, we are sold from an early age the idea that we must be a superwoman. To be both submissive and sexually desirable to our mates at all times, a domestic goddess in our homes whilst possessing the strength that holds everything and everyone around us together. It is continuously reinforced throughout our lives from childhood into adulthood that we must be able to manage our home, work and family life effortlessly with a smile and that to do otherwise means we are somehow failing or are not good enough.
I have had so many conversation lately with the women I coach about the notion of how having to play the role of the stereotypical strong black woman is pushing them to the point where they feel absent from their own lives. How the constant need to portray the image of having it all together, being able to cope with all of life challenges or to not be seen as being weak is leaving them feeling exhausted, both physically and emotionally drained, resentful and in some cases as though they have sacrificed themselves and a sense of their own identity in order to live up to these ideals.
Fulfilling Multiple roles of womanhood can be exhausting
The strains placed upon women to have to routinely perform juggling acts in order to fulfil the multiple roles expected of them may sometimes require them to slot into lives they have not created for themselves often coming at the expense of their own needs and desires. Women are often left feeling burdened by the weight of the expectations place upon and in some cases on the brink of breaking down from this constant need for them to be strong, to perform and to conform. As Mumpreneurs it is so important that you are putting in place strategies that will enable you to prevent or reduce your stress levels from becoming too high, that you are able to recognise when you are becoming overwhelmed and know to seek support when needed.
The stigma of Mental Health
It is a sad reality but many women are breaking down under the emotional and physical demands place upon them and the pressure of having to be strong all the time, resulting in mental health illnesses such as anxiety or depression. I recently read an article on mental health which addressed How to deal with the stigma of metal health In the article Melissa Emmanuel declares "yes, I suffer from depression, but guess what? I'm OK" in an attempt to dispel the idea that women who live with depression are somehow unable to function in what is perceived to be a normal manor. The article also highlights the inter-generational co-signing among African and Caribbean females that takes place teaching women to bury perceived signs of weakness and not to talk about their personal problems.
Black women are often raised with the idea that to share personal problems may leave them open to being a source of ridicule within their communities and should therefore never discuss their problems openly with others. This often leaves women suffering in silence over issues which are common place among women and easily resolved if they simply speak out.
Seek advice and support
This in part is one of the reason why I the founded the Divas Let’s Talk platform, it exists to enable women to have spaces where they can have honest and open conversation in a non-judgemental manor in a hope that we will break down barriers, prevent women from suffering unnecessarily in silence and stop the reinforcement of certain stigmas.
If you are finding that you are constantly burnt out or that the role of being strong is becoming too much and you need some support on how to put in place strategies to combat this do contact me and Diva, Let’s Talk.