I specifically remember crunching Cheetos against the roof of my mouth after school as I watched an advertisement for Enjoli perfume. It was the ’80s, I liked being a girl and I loved perfume, but I detested this commercial and the woman in it looked ridiculous.
She was flipping around her perfect Farrah Fawcett locks and singing something about bringing home bacon, frying it up in a pan, and then, before pleasing her man, she took care of the kids, put them to bed, then gave herself a spritz of perfume while wearing some silky number — you know, for a man.
All I could think was: Where the hell was he during dinner, bath, and bedtime while she ran herself ragged?
I wasn’t even a tween yet and was wondering why she was so excited about her life. It looked like it sucked, and I was exhausted just thinking about doing all that. When does she get to have fun?
Now, don’t get me wrong — I believe in women. They can do anything they want, and if what they want to be is a 24-hour-woman, fabulous. I just know I am not a one of those women.
I have a daily expiration date, and if there is one thing I don’t want out of my life, it is to spend it running around making everyone else happy 24/7. That’s not my fucking job.
Can we bring home the bacon? Yes, we can. We work just as hard (if not harder) than men, and bring home 55 to 79 cents per every man’s dollar (depending on the color of our skin).
Can we cook it up when we get home? Of course, we can. We can sizzle bacon or any other kind of meat you want like a mother-fucking boss. But I prefer only doing that sometimes — 55% to 79% of the time sounds about right.
Some nights I put my feet up and order sushi and eat it out of the container. Sometimes I announce it’s “whatever” night (translation: eat whatever you can find) and that makes us all deliciously happy — especially me.
When it comes to taking care of the kids, we can do it with our hands tied behind our back, but if there is going to ever be energy left for partner-pleasing later on, I’m going to need a hand, preferably two, because we have a lot of kids, and my husband is a parent too. It’s not “helping me,” it’s not babysitting, it’s not doing chores. It’s called sharing responsibility because we have a partnership, and we both decided to have kids and raise them together.
I’ve tried to be her, the woman who does it all, I have. She comes with a side of resentment and a huge helping of “I don’t want to fucking live my life this way because I count too.” So I stopped because I hated being her. I would rather be happy than have someone comment, “How do you do it all?” Self-neglect, that’s how. Just because you can be the 24-hour-woman doesn’t mean you have to.
I realize this commercial was on TV decades ago, and a lot has changed since then, but some things haven’t. I look and listen and still hear women feeling this kind of pressure — to do everything; to look good; to have the dream career, the family, a clean home, kids who excel in academics and sports; to find time to volunteer; to be that damn woman in the commercial running all over the place and doing every little thing perfectly. But here’s the thing: She doesn’t exist.
Deep down, we all know this. You can’t do all those things without suffering major burnout. We realize this when we struggle to keep up. We feel less-than and moody and exhausted, and you bet your ass there are plenty of us struggling alongside of you. It isn’t you — it’s the pressure we put on ourselves to be these manufactured Stepford wives. And it’s gross.
We are capable of doing a few things really well, but trying to cross all the things off the list and be everything to everyone doesn’t work. It causes everything to go to shit, including ourselves. And if women everywhere go to shit, we all know this ship is gong to sink faster than you can say, “Bring home the bacon.”