Op-Ed: Societal Standards Aren’t Everything


Karly Hamilton

Women have the right to decide to be a mother of a child, pet (or neither), no matter what society dictates. Illustration by Karly Hamilton ’21.

Zoe Kaplan, Associate Editor

Our world is full of stereotypes, many of which are untrue. There is so much pressure to look, act, and think a certain way, creating unrealistic expectations—especially for women.

The truth is, categories don’t define us. These false assumptions can be a source of stress and anxiety when they shouldn’t hold any power over people.

For example, as I was scrolling on Instagram a few weeks ago, I saw a post that instantly disgusted me. The post referenced men not wanting to date women who weigh more than 130 pounds.

These posts are problematic for numerous reasons. First, nobody has the right to decide what weight, height, or body shape a woman should feel most comfortable with. Also, every person is a different shape and size, so of course our weights will vary. That’s not something to be ashamed of—it’s human nature.

Finally, no human’s value should change based on their physical characteristics.

Having unrealistic expectations placed on women is an unfair burden for them to bear. Size does not determine beauty, and there is not one “right” way to look.

In addition to dealing with beauty standards, women are also expected to act a certain way—such as being full-time mothers.

As our world evolves, so should our expectations. Some women may choose to follow a more traditional path, but that is not the case for everyone.

I have heard many stories of women who say they do not want kids, and in almost every situation, they received unwarranted feedback on their decision. Expecting all women to want children is unreasonable; we are capable of more than just having children.

The only person who has the right to decide how many children—if any—a woman wants to have is the individual in question. Additionally, some women are unable to have children and asking why they don’t have kids can be a trigger.

Finally, no human’s value should change based on their physical characteristics.

Either way, women can never win. If they don’t have kids, they are asked why, but if they do have kids, some mothers face judgment for being working moms. Different family dynamics work for different people, and it is not our place to hold people to expectations that don’t suit their needs.

I think it is important to be aware of these expectations and acknowledge that no two people will live the same life.

For some women, a perfect life involves being a stay-at-home mom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That being said, it is equally as acceptable to be a working mom, or to have no children at all.

Regardless of the life path one takes, it should be their decision, not society’s.

I urge people to reexamine the unrealistic expectations that society perpetuates. We all are entitled to lead the life we want, and nobody’s worth should be determined by arbitrary standards.