Okay, ladies, here’s a book that is not only going to validate some feelings you’ve had that you may have been afraid to say aloud, but it’s also going to give you permission to speak those truths and encourage others to as well, leading to a win-win all around. Drop the Act, It’s Exhausting!: Free Yourself From your So-Called Put-Together Life by Beth Thomas Cohen, with contributions by Michelle Matrisciani lays it all out right there in the title. We’re all putting on some kind of ‘act’, to some extent or another, and the release of these acts can only benefit us all.
So, what kind of acts do you think there are? Through nine chapters, different facades that women may feel obligated to keep up are outlined. From the ideas of “Fake it till you make it” and “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” to some expectations that seem to be rising in recent years in regards to our marriages, parenting practices, and careers, this book of essays says what I believe modern women need to hear.
Cohen opens by encouraging readers to follow her lead in writing this book and open themselves to honesty. Instead of acting as we think we’re supposed to, she poses the idea that we simply act as we are, just be ourselves. In that vein, she then hashes out various expectations and standards that modern Western society seems to project onto women and exposes the trouble that lies within each. Admitting our shortcomings can be radically freeing, she argues, and if more women did so, the standards just might lower to more realistic levels.
Competition can appear to be at the heart of so much of how society seems to define womanhood. From beauty standards that are splashed over every form of media to the idea of women “having it all,” each of these ideas encourages women to view other women in terms of how they compare. Goodness knows that I’ve felt this keenly in the realm of parenting, an area in which women are too often expected to reach Pinterest-levels of perfection. What if we all admitted that we struggle instead of trying to keep up appearances in real life and increasingly on social media, always showing nothing but smiling faces?
Personally, I agreed wholeheartedly with everything Cohen exposes in this book, and I’m happy to think of myself as mostly open about the realities of my family and personal life. That’s not to say that I don’t feel inadequate when I compare myself to others (thank you Facebook!) or fall prey to many of these types of inner conversations. But with each of Cohen’s essays, I was reminded that I don’t have to do this to myself. She writes with grace and humor, and with some well-placed profanities here and there to really drive her points home, so even as I was shaking my head in recognition, I was still giggling. I encourage women to read through this with open minds and open hearts!