reese witherspoon’s essay for Glamour titled “We Have to Change the Idea That a Woman With Ambition Is Out Only for Herself” is noble in its intentions, but misses the mark on a macro level. her push to make women embrace “ambition” by listing off all her accomplishments (congrats for you, gorl) is misguided. i grew up in an era where the predominant critique against society, on behalf of women, is this “beauty standard.” everyone worked so hard to tell girls that they are worthy despite media bombardment about their looks. instead, they should focus on their smarts, intellect, and drive. now here’s reese’s essay about how she has embraced “ambition” to tell women’s stories and make waves in hollywood. forgive me if i see beauty and ambition as different sides of the same coin. where as before a woman’s worth was measured by pretty vs. ugly, now the standard is driven vs. i dont know, lazy? what that conversation does is transfer the same moral deficiencies in a culture obsessed with productivity and achievement as a sign of worth. now it’s not about how you look, but what you accomplish. if embracing ambition to succeed was the remedy for women’s issues, then the male-dominated richest nation in the world would not be so chronically unhappy and alarmingly over medicated.
knowing your purpose in life is a gift. knowing that purpose at an early age is a blessing, but not everyone is so fortunate to experience that level of enlightenment. and following your passions doesn’t shield you from being stressed, or unmotivated, or (gasp!) failing. or having periods in your life where you have no direction. “ambitious” is as limiting and has just as many pitfalls as “beautiful.” just as the insta-hoe who gains weight begins to question her worth when her likes fail to surpass a certain number, so too does the go-getter question her own sense of self when she is lacking drive or loses sight of her vision. ambition is not the way to carve out a piece of the pie for women. i don’t want that pie. that pie is plagued with anxiety, insecurity, lack of fulfillment and tying your identity to some imagined notion of yourself–living life with horse-blinders on the way to “goals.”
the pie i want to be a part of embraces the complexity of both men and women as humans on individual journeys of self-discovery. some of these men and women will find their passions have to power to enhance lives and change the world. and many more will never find such grand applications and do nothing at all. are they any less worthy? no. the binding of atoms with atoms, the chemical processes, and the sprinkle of divine magic that make every single human being are what make someone worthy. just existing, just being, is enough to make you enough. do you try to be kind? do you try to tell the truth in difficult situations? do you put the shopping cart back in the designated shopping cart lanes in the parking lot (this one is important.) these are the kinds of ideals we should be sharing. not that ambition is quintessential, but that a mindful existence and living harmoniously with others is more than enough.