Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, there is a lot of cultural and societal pressure to look, dress, feel and behave in certain ways.
Whilst this is certainly not a new observation, it seems that there is not a lot of literature around which draws a direct link between the influence of gendered conditioning and the challenges we face in recognising and becoming comfortable with our true authentic selves.
Instead of encouraging us to embrace our own unique nature and the beauty of the collective oneness that we all share at our very core, society underhandedly enforces a plethora of limiting beliefs: men and women are vastly different, women must conform to a certain type of sexy, men aren’t allowed to show vulnerability, we are incomplete until we are “taken” and betrayal in romantic relationships is unavoidable.
The picture is pretty clear when you look around and see the vast numbers of women wearing orange foundation (colloquially referred to as oompa loompas), and the equally large numbers of he men (I suspect the metaphor probably speaks for itself). The selfie age has well and truly taken over and contributed to a culturally approved vanity and narcissism that seems to reinforce the aforementioned limiting beliefs that are ultimately so damaging for us.
Now I’m certainly not trying to have a go at anyone by writing this article. I’ve definitely done my fair share of compromising on my core values and wearing masks in order to ‘fit in.’ Not everyone follows the league of oompa loompas and he men.. there are many brave folk who allow their individuality and authenticity to fly loud, proud and free. It’s more so that even for the more consciously aware of us, there seems to remain a strong undercurrent of conditioning that is really hard to completely break free from. It often takes a high level of discipline, conscious effort, courage and consistency to break away entirely from the pressure to conform in some way, shape or form.
I’m not suggesting that we attempt to overhaul the evil cruel rein of our oppressive society by force (although the idea of organising a social revolution via Facebook invite does have a certain appeal). But in all seriousness, I truly believe that the key lies firstly in conscious awareness followed by active pursuit. The more people that consciously choose to seek out and follow the path of their true highest potential, the better things will be for the collective.
This may or may not mean actively choosing to pursue jobs, goals, lifestyles, philosophies or hobbies that others and/or society see as stupid, crazy, embarrassing or just plain wrong. A heterosexual man harbouring a secret yen to study ballet should have the freedom to pursue his goal without fear of judgement or reprisal. A woman should feel free to look/act/dress in an androgynous manner without being regarded as ‘unfeminine’ or ‘unsexy.’
Whilst these are fairly obvious examples, sadly these kinds of gendered restrictions are still at large in many areas of the world. At the end of the day the real truth, the real essence of our humanity is that we are all one and the same regardless of gender, sexuality or any other defining category of separation. Of course there are biological differences between us.. but at the risk of sounding all new agey and wishy washy, we are at our core, in our very essence, all one. We all have both masculine and feminine energy within us.
The next step for humanity is to truly recognise this truth and embrace the oneness that is present in all of us. It is a big ask and a big task, but everyone has the capacity to take a conscious look inwards and observe whether they may be aligning with falsehood and ignoring what their soul truly wants. Harmony, balance, acceptance and a genuine commitment to following the path of their highest good.