From a very young age, there are plenty of molds that girls are told they need to fit into as they grow up.
They should be pretty, but not too pretty. They should be smart, but not smarter than others in the room. They should aspire to have children and maybe not be super ambitious, and they should want to get married and play the mom.
Not only are these totally unrealistic expectations to place on girls who are fully capable of deciding for themselves what they want out of life, the most damaging of all molds we place in a young girl's mind is that of being “wife material.”
I will totally admit I fell prey to that ideology when I was younger. I've always loved love and couldn't wait to fall into it. I wanted to be swept off my feet, I wanted someone to cherish me and take care of me and always tell me I was pretty.
It was easy to get wrapped up in the idea of becoming “wife material” and focus on that rather than something more substantial.
As I grew up, I realized mmm, yeah, I probably didn't want someone to fully take care of me because I am a highly driven human being who wants to find success on her own and doesn't want to have to answer to anyone when I want to make frivolous purchases.
I want to be my own person and not feel like I have to become this version of myself just to fit someone else's idea of who I should be simply because we want to get married.
No, that's not OK.
I had this idea in my head if I wanted to find someone who truly loved me, I had to be this unrealistic version of myself.
I had to be able to make towering stacks of pancakes from scratch and cook steak perfectly; I had to be knowledgeable about a plethora of topics. I had to attempt to understand sports and be well-read and be able to get a stain out of a shirt and be domestic.
Sure, it may have seemed like I was envisioning a Nick at Nite rerun version of what it meant to be wife material, but what it came down to was thinking I had to do all these things in order to find a suitable match, a happy relationship and, eventually, a blissful marriage.
It was totally damaging. I was doing things for the wrong reasons. When no one wanted to date me, I thought it was because I wasn't doing something right.
I thought maybe I didn't know how to do this or I wasn't paying attention to the right things. What was wrong with me?
But there wasn't anything wrong with me. People didn't want to date me because they didn't want to date me. It didn't matter if I couldn't talk NCAA or walk around in the perfect outfit.
Once I realized I didn't have to fit this mold, that I could be myself and be open to someone who seriously didn't give a shit whether or not I could recite Shakespeare (LOL, JK, I can) or that I wasn't involved in literally any sport whatsoever, it was so much easier to accept dating isn't meant to be this endgame where you're chosen by someone because of what you're capable of.
I'm lucky I figured it out in high school and didn't let this idea grow and fester in my brain. I became the person I am because of choices I made to benefit myself, not someone in the future who I hadn't met yet and didn't deserve to have that kind of hold over me.
This is why we need to stop perpetuating this idea to young girls. We need to encourage them to want to learn something new because they want to learn something new -- not because it will impress a guy or because it makes them better marriage material.
If they want to learn French, encourage them to learn French and work toward becoming fluent for that future trip they want to take.
Play soccer because it promotes physical activity. They should want to look good for themselves, not what they think Brad over there is going to like.
We need to remind girls to read for the bevy of benefits it provides, to know how to cook basics so they don't starve to death or live on fast food when they go to college, to be able to hold their own in any situation.
The idea of aspiring to be “wife material” is so detrimental to young girls who already have to contend with so much in a society that is much more critical than it is encouraging.
There are so many external outlets pressuring them to be one thing or another and what we really need to assure them of is they are in full control of who they are and who they become.
They are autonomous and can be the best versions of themselves without needing it to be for anyone else other than themselves.
This isn't the '50s, this isn't some song talking about who you should be for your man. It's up to women to make the decisions that shape who we are -- not an ideology that's flawed at best and damaging at worst.
If someone tells you that you aren't wife material, just remind them that not everyone is cut from the same cloth and one size does not fit all.