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It’s Not Easy Being a Woman

April 20th, 2012by Emily Macke

Kermit once said, “It’s not easy being green.”  Such is no longer the case.  Green is “in.”  Green is hip.  Green is as convenient as purchasing the cloth grocery bag, conveniently located right next to the convenient scan-it-yourself aisle.  Green is available at farmer’s markets and specialty stores and even regular grocery stores.  Green is loudly touted by the media, by the teachers, by the government.

But, you know what’s not easy?  It’s not easy being a woman.

This thought struck me as I opened a new bag of bread on Monday morning.  As I untwisted the tie, I realized that staring back at me was a bikini-clad beach volleyball player.  My first thought wasn’t about how many crunches I would have to do to try to look like her.  Instead my first thought was, “Poor woman!”  Here she is living as an athlete, and a view of her body that only her husband should see is plastered on plastic bags holding bread.  Men, women and children throughout the country are being treated to her body while they make their daily sandwich, and her dignity, her mystery, her treasure is completely disregarded.

I managed to swallow my sandwich before heading back to my computer.  Good thing too, because I next came across this story about a new app that tells its users about nearby women.  The app, “Girls Around Me,” is in a bit of trouble for not seeking permission to share information from Foursquare and Facebook to alert men as to what women may be within reach.

Some may read these stories and rightly cry, “Objectification!”  But sadly, many, many women view these as compliments.  Many women today find their sole value in how they look, what they wear, how many catcalls they hear as they walk to their school or their place of employment.  There is a lost sense of sacredness.

It’s why we see women of all ages running errands in tank tops and spandex.  It’s why there is such a sense of competition between women regarding their clothes, makeup and hair.  It’s why we view our treasure as our salary, our GPA, our ability to be Superwoman, instead of as being a precious daughter of God.

But, there is no mystery in tank tops and spandex.  Authentic beauty isn’t a competition among women, but an opportunity to receive beauty from God and to allow it to reflect people back to Him.  And valuing myself based upon my resume of accomplishments misses something even more profound.

It’s not easy being a woman today because our world reduces who we are to what size clothing we wear, how well we can “rock” that outfit, whether or not we work, and how many zeros there are in our paycheck.

Imagine how greatly our culture would be transformed if women really lived their authentic femininity.  If we were more aware of the treasure that God has given us, of the dignity of our body and soul, of our responsibility to love and serve those around us and to receive their love and service.  Imagine if we saw our femininity as a mystery to be treasured, not exploited.

What is that particular value?  It’s loving others by being so selfless as to notice what another needs.  It’s seeing every person I encounter, as well as myself, as unique, unrepeatable, someone who was literally loved into existence.  It’s allowing my gifts, talents and beauty to point others back to the gift-Giver.  It’s preserving the mystery of femininity by not showcasing all things to all people at all times.

What does it mean to be a woman?  It is a matter of receiving all of the gifts God has for us so that our love of others can bear fruit in their coming to know their Creator and Redeemer more fully than before.

It’s certainly not easy.  But it is a beauty that no bread bag will ever be able to capture and a joy that is far too precious to purchase.  It is simply given.


Emily Macke

Emily Macke serves as Theology of the Body Education Coordinator at Ruah Woods ( She received her Master's in Theology from the John Paul II Institute and enjoys speaking and writing about the gift of the faith. She blogs at Unshakeable Hope