Perfect Little Women - New Study Looks At The Pervasive Effects of The Perceived Need to be Flawless

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A recent study by Queendom.com reveals that while perfectionistic tendencies tend to decrease with age, each generation still struggles to live up to personal and social standards.

Many women still feel pressured to be perfect, whether that perceived pressure comes from themselves, family, or society.

Even though most women know deep down that perfection is unattainable, they still strive for it.

More than half of the women in our study still worry about what other people think of them, loved ones and strangers alike.

International Women’s Day is a celebration of the societal barriers that women have fought long, and fought hard, to break down. Simone de Beauvoir dared to challenge the patriarchy’s belief of a woman’s role, and rights, in society. Frida Kahlo spurred conversation on forbidden topics through her artwork. Mary Church Terrel wasn’t just one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, she was also a strong advocate for women’s right to vote. In spite of the progress women have made in the fight for equality, research from Queendom reveals that many still feel they are not enough … they believe that in order to be loved, respected and accepted, they need to be better, look better, do more, be more, give more.

Analyzing data from nearly 1,000 women who took the Perfectionism Test, data from Queendom’s study indicate that Gen Z girls and Gen Y women feel the most pressure to be perfect. This perceived pressure is less prominent in Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, but still present. Here’s what Queendom’s data revealed:

WOMEN TEND TO SET EXCESSIVELY HIGH PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR THEMSELVES

> They are only proud of their work if it receives praise from a teacher/manager.

  •      Gen Z: 48%
  •      Gen Y: 41%
  •      Gen X: 27%
  •      BBs: 20%

> They are only satisfied when a task is done perfectly

  •      Gen Z: 67%
  •      Gen Y: 71%
  •      Gen X: 65%
  •      BBs: 64%

> They believe that failing an assignment at school/work makes them a failure as a person.

  •      Gen Z: 47%
  •      Gen Y: 52%
  •      Gen X: 48%
  •      BBs: 24%

WOMEN TEND TO SET EXCESSIVELY HIGH PERSONAL STANDARDS FOR THEMSELVES

> They want to excel at everything they take on.

  •      Gen Z: 66%
  •      Gen Y: 71%
  •      Gen X: 54%
  •      BBs: 56%

> They believe they will never be rejected (by a significant other, by friends, etc.) if they are perfect.

  •      Gen Z: 35%
  •      Gen Y: 36%
  •      Gen X: 30%
  •      BBs: 8%

> They constantly worry about making mistakes.

  •      Gen Z: 47%
  •      Gen Y: 52%
  •      Gen X: 56%
  •      BBs: 48%

WOMEN FEEL PRESSURE FROM THEIR FAMILY TO BE PERFECT

> They feel that no matter how hard they try, it’s never good enough for their family or partner.

  •      Gen Z: 44%
  •      Gen Y: 41%
  •      Gen X: 37%
  •      BBs: 32%

> They are afraid of being criticized if they mess up.

  •      Gen Z: 54%
  •      Gen Y: 43%
  •      Gen X: 37%
  •      BBs: 16%

> They have trouble saying no to requests because they don’t want to let people down.

  •      Gen Z: 55%
  •      Gen Y: 60%
  •      Gen X: 54%
  •      BBs: 18%

WOMEN FEEL PRESSURE FROM SOCIETY TO BE PERFECT

> The thought of being considered “average” terrifies them.

  •      Gen Z: 60%
  •      Gen Y: 56%
  •      Gen X: 58%
  •      BBs: 40%

> They believe that in order to be respected, they need to have a lot of money.

  •      Gen Z: 23%
  •      Gen Y: 29%
  •      Gen X: 13%
  •      BBs: 16%

> They believe they have to be in perfect physical shape to be attractive.

  •      Gen Z: 51%
  •      Gen Y: 46%
  •      Gen X: 39%
  •      BBs: 40%

“Even though most women know deep down that perfection is unattainable, they still strive for it,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests, the parent company of Queendom. “It’s that duality that causes so much heartache; that constant battle between the woman they want to be, and the woman they feel they need to be. For example, the vast majority of the women in our study said that they are proud of their achievements. Yet, more than half of them still worry about what other people think of them, loved ones and strangers alike. On the one hand, I believe we have come very far in terms of shattering beauty and gender role stereotypes, and making women feel more comfortable with who they are. On the other hand, so many women are still ridden by self-doubt and a need for external validation, still struggle with self-esteem issues and imposter syndrome, and still feel that self-love is selfish and egotistical.”

Why do so many women still feel like they’re not good enough?

“Because this concept of the ‘ideal woman’ still floats around on social media, on television, and in movies - and it’s a moving target. One day, women should be thin, blond influencers. The next day they should emulate the pony-tailed perfect mom who always makes healthy snacks, or the curvy, career-oriented woman. So it’s a constant everyday pressure women put on themselves to be everything to everyone. However, while it is true that women are bombarded with the unrealistic messages about the ideal female, we are as guilty, if not more, of imposing impossible standards on ourselves. We are not helpless victims. We have a voice. We can step into our power without blaming our lack of self-love on society. We can take responsibility for our own happiness - and taming our perfectionism is a great step in the right direction. My hope for women on March 8th is for them to choose to be who they want to be, and to do what their heart calls them to do - and not give a damn about what anyone else thinks.”

Want to assess your perfectionistic tendencies? Check out our Perfectionism Test at https://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=3051

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com). The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D.
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