[Campus Commentary]Learn to let go of ‘superwoman’ complexI attended an extracurricular class during the holidays at my university’s winter school. I did not expect to meet anyone there, but the professor had us introduce ourselves when the class met. When one student walked to the front and started to introduce herself, I thought: “That woman is not at all unfamiliar. I am sure I have seen her face before!”
After she went back to her seat, I turned and gazed at her once again. Finally, I realized that she was one of my high school friends. She and I were not close, but we used to call out friendly hellos to each other when we met on campus. I could not recognize her immediately because her she had lost her very prominent jaw. That is, she had gotten herself major plastic surgery.
She had become very beautiful and it was hard to believe it was her. I was suddenly jealous and asked myself, “What have you been doing?”
I had taken a semester off from school to prepare for employment so I’d have a job by the time I graduate. But I did not achieve anything substantial. There was a plan to lose weight among the list of to-dos.
I do not believe women should always try to look beautiful, but I must admit a beautiful appearance is important to women in Korea.
I was once troubled, trying to decide whether I should have double eyelid surgery to look nice at job interviews. Also, a close friend reminded me the other day, “We look so fat.” She insisted, once again, that “We must lose weight!” to achieve anything.
My parents have started to nag me about having a make-over if I’m going to get a job I want. They said, “You are in your pretty 20s, but the size of your belly is like that of a middle-aged woman.”
It seems that every girl my age and in college is going through a similar problem. Gaining some experience is a good way to get a good job. But having a nice appearance is the faster way. All girls these days seem to know that too well and we are all afflicted with the superwoman complex.
Realizing I have not accomplished anything, I became impatient. I almost thought of going to a plastic surgeon. At least then, I would have achieved something, becoming an inch closer to becoming a “superwoman.” However, I realized one day that I was thinking wrongly when I overheard a conversation with Hahn Hui-jeong, who holds a doctorate in women’s studies and the media. She is one of the women I respect in school. She was complaining about how she was also having a hard time trying to be a superwoman, who is perfect at work and at home (and also looks beautiful). “I tried to work and do the housework perfectly, but I got sick and was in hospital at the end. After that, I decided I should never fold a single piece of laundry when I have no time. And I was calm again. You should learn to empty out your mind.”
It was as simple as that. Even the most awesome woman got tired sometimes and fell sick from her obsessions.
I realize I am not a superwoman, and I cannot have both a beautiful appearance and a good career at once. Maybe I should try a different way to achieve these, gradually, though I cannot think of another way at the moment.
*The writer is a former editor of The Sookmyung Times, a student English newspaper at Sookmyung Women’s University.
by Goo Youn Eun-ae