Being a Woman: Reaching for My Authentic Self

My platform is about teaching women how to love themselves and how to reach their most authentic self.  At this year’s Pennsylvania’s Conference for Women I heard again that startlingly statistic of how many women do not like the person they see in the mirror. This is disheartening.

Whether your life transition right now is as the result of a divorce, loss, medical crisis, or some other major life change, women need to explore and perhaps re-define their essence, or “womanesse” (my word); in other words understanding womanhood in her new normal.  As such I chose to comment and write an article review on a piece written in the Psychology Tomorrow Magazine (Velleda C. Ceccoli, PhD, October  2014-Issue 14) entitled, “Becoming WOMAN: The (Marilyn) Monroe Doctrine.” Stanley Siegal, Editor-in-Chief, wrote, “Nothing has changed more than our definitions of what it means to be a woman, from the rigid roles and expectations of the pre-feminist era to the fluidity of womanhood in contemporary life.”

Dr. Ceccoli asked, What is woman? She offered the role of mother, daughter, and object of desire and amusingly commented that even Freud didn’t know what to do with us and shaped female sexuality out of male libido. She commented that the concept of who women are remains the subject of much speculation and mystery. I believe that it is partly because for many years (and still) we as women have allowed others to define who we are and what we do and how we should conduct ourselves. Just reflect on the recent comments of the Microsoft CEO who said a woman not asking for a raise is “good karma.” Wow, that set us back 100 years!

Dr. Ceccoli posed this question, Is there something unique and essential to being a woman- that which separates us from a man.  My answer (and likely every woman) a resounding YES!

The author goes into great detail about the psychological and physical development of women that further defines who we become. “As women, we approach our bodies, our sex and our aggression in ways, which are specific to our gender…and [sic] either constrain or facilitate our ways of being and being with others.”

Our experience of being female is defined by our early developmental experiences. Fast forward to the story and life of Marilyn Monroe. How beautiful and captivating was her essence , her womenness, her sexuality. Did you know that she grew up with a mentally ill mother who could not care for her and that she did not know her father. For the most part she raised herself.

Reportedly, she found her way out of poverty and foster homes through her beauty and her body, sex and seduction being the primary means of exchange in a world dominated by men.  The author writes that Ms. Monroe used her looks to give men what they wanted in the hopes that they would then take care of her and provide what she needed: love, respect, and safety.  Like many women of her generation (and today unfortunately), she looked to men for recognition, validation, and security.

Who am I? What kind of woman? Monroe asked (author statement).  Dr. Ceccoli asserted that we as women are continually trying to work this out with other women-our BFFs, teachers, mentors, mothers.  Our relationships to other women are important sources of identity formation.  Sadly, the author writes that Marilyn was abandoned by her own kind (no doubt out of envy and jealousy or misunderstanding), and that she was more comfortable with men because they treated her like an “a woman”, while women treated her like the enemy.

I love the author’s statement that no matter how important the men in our lives are (and they are) they cannot replace the role of other women in our lives. As women we need each other to work out who we are and who we want to be.  Not to imitate but to emulate-their success, their essence, their being.

Marilyn’s story is still relevant today because women continue to struggle with the same issues despite that there are more possibilities and models to who and what we can be. The author completes her work with the notion that despite the glamor and furor that surrounded her, Marilyn Monroe was a woman in search of herself, a woman in process-a woman like you and me.

In my work with women as well as female colleagues and friends, I see and feel the real struggle women experience in trying to find their true authentic womeness without being objectified or sexualized. As we transition through those very challenging stages in our life, we come face-to-face with that ideal woman in the mirror and that one inside our soul-at last we meet.

Read the full article, Becoming WOMAN: The (Marilyn) Monroe Doctrine

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About Angela Clack

Dr. Angela Roman Clack is a Psychologist and Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in New Jersey. Practicing in the field of mental health for over 15 years, Dr. Clack has developed a specialty in working with women with emotional and physical health issues as well as interpersonal/interpersonal distress. Dr. Clack is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach and Consultant. She seeks to empower and help women live their truest expression of themselves, embrace their imperfections, love themselves and to remove self-imposed barriers that get in the way of personal and professional success.

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