Careers & Money
Celebrity lifestyles reinforce the pressure to be perfect
An award-winning spiritual author warns that idolised celebrities who seem to effortlessly juggle multi-million dollar careers with kids, husbands and travel – all while looking fabulous – are posing a damaging threat on Kiwi women’s wellbeing.
Hamilton-based life coach, Marnie McDermott, says that while celebrated A-Listers such as Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie appear to fulfil a number of demanding roles with ease, Kiwi women are struggling to keep up under the pressure to be perfect.
Inspirational women or unattainable idols?
‘NZ women tend to look to the rest of the world to guide us about how we feel, how we should act and what’s fashionable. So when we are bombarded with Hollywood stars who seem to be able to do and have it all in their careers and personal lives without putting a hair out of place, that raises our expectations of ourselves to unreasonable and unrealistic heights,’ says Marnie.
‘While celebrities have a team of helpers to assist them in balancing a distinguished career, a hectic schedule and even motherhood, this is not the case for the everyday Kiwi women, for whom the heavy workload to achieve and attain all the same things can take its toll.’
Marnie says this only reinforces Kiwi women’s internal pressure to be ‘perfect’ in an ever-demanding modern world which can have a negative effect on their mental wellbeing, as they begin to feel severely unhappy and search for solutions in the wrong places.
In pursuit of happiness
Marnie says, ‘It’s easy for us to get swept up in an increasing drive towards consumerism for fulfilment.’ ‘It’s hard to avoid this ‘manufactured’ happiness trap, which has almost become a new epidemic in the western world. Happiness has become so external that we think luxury items, fancy homes and flash cars, will stop us from feeling empty. So we just become busier trying to attain these things, eventually exhausting ourselves.’
Sounding familier? Marnie calls the tendency of Kiwi women to look to others and try to emulate their happiness ‘Storybook Happiness’.
‘We’ll say, “They look happy. I want what they’ve got – an amazing home, a fabulous figure, the perfect designer clothes. That must be how my life needs to be for me to be happy.” It’s like keeping up with the Joneses. We hastily try to replicate our perceptions of someone else’s happiness rather than finding our own,’ she says.
First-hand experience and a lesson to learn
Marnie says her insights come from her own experience of struggling to find happiness in a world where the self-expectations among women are ever-growing. As a national corporate communications specialist, Marnie battled feelings of emptiness for nearly a decade, believing happiness could only be achieved through career success and the acquisition of luxury things.
‘I was earning six figures, travelling internationally, never denying myself anything I wanted, but somehow I felt empty. I kept thinking if I could do and have more – work more, earn more, buy more – I would be happy,’ she says.
After a run of life-changing events, including surviving a devastating house fire in which she lost everything but her life, Marnie says she realised that she had been searching for fulfilment in all the wrong places.
‘I started to study health and mind-body principles, and I discovered the only thing holding me back from being truly happy in a life-long way was fear of doing what I really loved; my fear of being judged, doing a bad job, or just not doing or having enough. Once I learned to embrace my true self and find balance in my life I was able to find inner peace.’
Marnie McDermott recently won a US-based Annual National Indie Excellence Award in the body-mind-spirit category for her first book, ‘Beyond Happiness: The 12 Principles of Enduring Bliss.’
Along with being an author and professional life coach, McDermott is a Reiki master teacher and a chartered energy kinesiologist.
Image / Supplied