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The Pressure To Be Perfect

Lissa Rankin's picture

Lissa Rankin

When I wrote The Story Of An Imperfect Woman, I ran it by my hubby to get his blessing since it referred, not only to my quirks and imperfections, but to his. He gave me his blessing, but then he said, “I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to tell everyone all of these things.”  I asked him why, and he said, “But what about your reputation?”

I had to laugh.

I mean this guy knows me and loves me, in spite of all these imperfections that are a big part of who I am. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. And finally, I don’t either.

I remember, back in my thirties, when I felt like I had to:

•    Never make mistakes at my job (after all, someone could die)

•    Be the perfect wife (or my husband might divorce me)

•    Keep a tidy house (or the neighbors would think I was a slob)

•    Look perfect (after all, those women’s magazines tell me it’s so important)

•    Be perfect in bed (or he might trade me in for a younger model)

•    Behave perfectly (or others might not respect me)

•    Be the perfect mother (or I might screw up my daughter)

Of course, even if any one of these had been possible, these things were mutually exclusive. By definition, to even try to be perfect at one thing, I’d have to be imperfect at another. It’s enough to make even the most awesome woman bonkers!

I now consider myself a recovering perfectionist, and I no longer expect myself to be perfect. And yet, when my husband said, “But what about your reputation?” I felt the old familiar twinge. Oh yeah. What about my reputation? What will people think?


I thought about it, checked in with my Inner Pilot Light, listened to the still small voice within me, and started to laugh. I mean WHO CARES about my reputation? Who gives a flip what people think? So what if patients decide not to come to me as their doctor because I refuse to be some plastic version of myself who never makes mistakes? Why would I want those people as patients to begin with?

Who gives a flying freak if some society woman doesn’t let me in her country club? Who cares if the neighbors think I’m a slob or the people from my church discover that I took a sex workshop or that I’m twice divorced or that I have a bit of a pooch around my middle these days?

I mean seriously? What am I trying to prove?

I know my husband means well. He wants me to be successful in business, pleasure, friendships, and life, and he supports me 1000%. But if someone like him can still question - after all I’ve done to put my truth out there on the internet - whether I’m crossing the line by revealing how imperfect I am, it only shows me how much further I have to go to help encourage you to learn to love yourself exactly as you are so you can free yourself from the burden of trying to be perfect.

Imperfection As A Screening Tool

The way I see it, sharing my imperfections with you is kind of the perfect screening tool. In other words, I’m not trying to please everyone. I only care about pleasing my people - and if you read this post and decide you don’t like me anymore, then you’re not part of my tribe. Good for both of us to know, right?

I met one girl with bright pink hair and hairy armpits and she said she used her hair as a screening tool. If people didn’t love her because she had pink hair and hairy armpits, they weren’t her people.

The more you pretend to be perfect, the harder it is to find your tribe. Why not make it easy for everyone? Why not let your freak flag fly and see what happens?

The Gift In Imperfection

I’ve learned an incredible lesson since I started Owning Pink over 2 years ago. It turns out that my imperfections are not only a good screening tool, they’re actually the keys to the kingdom. In my vulnerability, authenticity, fearlessness, and sometimes uncomfortable level of disclosure, lies the secret sauce. If I was writing this blog and showing you some vanilla version of myself, I suspect most of you wouldn’t be here. If I was telling you what I thought you wanted to hear instead of what was actually true, I doubt I’d have 5 million readers and over 100,000 Twitter followers.

People care what I have to say because when you’re brave enough to expose your imperfections, you give them courage to do the same. And when we can build community based on truth and authenticity, rather than masks, false perfection, and being phoney, we heal, connect, and thrive.

Are you brave enough to share your imperfections?

Tell us one imperfect thing about you in the comments here. (I promise, we’ll all love you anyway!)

Perfectly imperfect,

Lissa Rankin, MD

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.



mohrle's picture


my dear lissa
my list of imperfections is longer than santa's good boys and girls list. (including the bad boys and girls list) over all these years i have learned that there is extraordinary and enchanting beauty in imperfection. this makes me the most beautiful woman in the whole universe. lol seriously, i am a much happier person since i have thrown the being perfect goblin over the hill. doing my happy dance right now.

Robin's picture

being happy vs. perfect

My opening question below was "just one?" I've been meaning to come back to this, so thanks for jumping in about your list that's too long. I didn't have time to list all my imperfections, and in spite of the call to speak up, I knew I didn't need to write an essay about all of them. I've been making mistakes all my life and I will until the day I die. I've spent two thirds of my 57 years learning to accept & love myself in spite of all my shortcomings.
Many, many moons ago I went to a management workshop for women. The instructor told about a different seminar in which she gave the mixed audience (women & men) an assignment to list their weaknessses & their strengths. She said the womens' lists were long & crossed over into their personal lives, complete w/ drawings. One woman didn't like her body and she drew picture of herself with exaggerated saggy butt & saddlebags, including arrows pointing to those "flaws". In contrast, one man in particular had a list of only positives. When asked about that, he looked up & said "Faults? no, I can't think of any." Really? Nothing? He thought, "Oh... wait.... yep.... I can't do the backstroke."
I think it's about being open-minded, finding balance & honesty and having compassion. If we have compassion for ourselves we have acceptance and that removes the need to make apologies for being who we are ;)

Suzanne's picture

I suck sometimes at taking my own advice

What I repeatedly recommend to others, and help them overcome I don't grasp in times of need. I get in my way so much I trip over myself. It feels crazy sometimes. 'I KNOW THIS STUFF' Is what you will hear as I talk to myself...I am getting easier on myself as I am getting a greater understanding that each incident is yet something learned but in the moment it really pisses me off!

Lissa Rankin's picture

car slob

Dear Alex,
My hubby jokes that if we ever get stranded in a desert, he wants to be in my car, because it's certain to be loaded with water bottles, packets of seaweed, extra clothes and shoes, medication, Kleenex, and anything else one might need in a desert. Of course, it's also likely to be filled with empty green juice jars, trash, aromatherapy oils, and other stuff that probably wouldn't help so much, but hey, comes with the territory.

So hey girl- I feel you!

Raising my freak flag proud

alex's picture

You ought to see the inside of my 2003 beemer!!!

So happy to belong to the pink slob club. After reading the entries that come before mine, I'd thought I'd died and gone to porker heaven. It's 11:32 pm and I am calm as a clam, munching on red licorice despite a mouthful of braces, laughing my head off, imagining what my uber clean, stick up his fucking ass, orthodontist would be saying to me if he saw me right now.

I just love the freedom and acceptance that owning pink provides. Lissa, thank you for spearheading this sorely needed pro slob campaign.

Onto my beloved beemer. I love love my car, but if you peeked in, you would know I am beyond domestically challenged. Boxes everywhere, not to mention candy wrappers and crumpled clothes and organizing thingies from the container store, that somehow just never got put to use.

I wonder if there is a missing something or other from my DNA, and that missing chromosome or protein or enzyme, explains why my living and work space is so anti Martha Stewart.

I was actually a pretty neat and organized child and teenager....but clearly I've been flying my freak flag and taking after my dear old dad since I've been in my 20s.

Am so appreciating that I no longer have to hide and wither in shame now that I am proud owning pink community member. Thank you all for giving me a place to show my issues without crucifixion.


Lissa Rankin's picture

I'm literally laughing out loud

You all are cracking me up!

I'm literally sitting here moving back and forth between rooms as my housekeeper Leslie cleans up after me. I must be a moving target because each room I'm in, I slob into, and then I move and my sweet love feels compelled to neat up after me. Fortunately, I let her bring her 3 year old, who keeps speaking to me while I'm trying to write, and we do this dance, in which I feel just a wee bit guilty and then a whole boatload of gratitude grateful that I can actually AFFORD a housekeeper to keep me from having dog-sized dust bunnies on the floor.

And then I read your comments, and I feel so normal and so thankful that I can just be ME and you can just be YOU and it can be okay that we're all imperfect.


You all rock. So do I. So does the piles of dust bunnies my housekeeper just collected in the corner of my writing room.


melissa's picture

I once shaved my head

I once shaved my head accidentally. No I was not drinking. But I loved it so I kept it for years. I only shave I want to have sex. I am not an artist but I make art anyway and hang it in my office.

Lissa Rankin's picture

another lazy housekeeper

Dear Robin,
When clients and friends enter my house, I used to say "I apologize for the mess." Or "I'd like to say it's because the housekeeper is coming tomorrow, but really, she was here 3 days ago and won't be back for 2 weeks."

Now I don't even bother apologizing. I just say "Welcome to our happy chaos."

Who cares if I'm a slob? I have other redeeming attributes and I can't be perfect in all aspects of my life. Nor do I expect myself to be. If someone doesn't like me or respect me professionally because my house is a mess, so be it!

Thanks for sharing your dust bunny story Robin. Own it, sista!

Robin's picture

I'll take happy chaos over an

I'll take happy chaos over an unhappy but orderly environment any day! Spot on about OP's judgements & your own expectations of yourself & pride in who you are ;) Thanks for bringing this topic up again, I loved your first "Imperfect Woman" post and I enjoyed reading it's comments. Keep rockin' the boat, Lissa! XO, Rg

Robin's picture

lazy housekeeper

Only one thing? OK. I'm a very energetic woman, but for the life of me I can't figure out why I'm lazy about chores sometimes. I can't believe how long I go between vacuuming, and I've got pets! The dust bunnies roll around, gathering more hair, growing, the last time I ended up picking up fur clumps the size of a mouse b4 I finally rolled out the vac hose. I have a neighbor who would never in a million years notice this (her house is always a disaster & she admits she doesn't see it, nor does she care!), but I wouldn't let my mother in here-- she whose floor you could always eat off of! The last time my house looked like this, out of the blue one of my dear friends told me she always felt bad about her messy house, comparing her place to friends', one in particular where nothing was ever out of place & it was always spic&span. I said, "Tell you what, swing by my house tonight and I'll show you what it looks like when I'm not expecting company!" Dishes filling both sinks, dirty carpet, dusty bookshelves that you could write your name on, unfolded laundry piled high, nose prints on the glass doors. She smiled, I knew she felt better, and you know what? So did I! It was liberating to walk her thru and point out my imperfections as a housekeeper.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Dear Anonymous

I LOVE YOU! Just the way you are...
Rock on, babe

Anonymous's picture

Why, thank you...Lissa. I love me too!

AND while I'm at it...I am so imperfect that I'm brave enough not to be Anonymous anymore. I'm Adrya, from Miami, Florida; and, thanks to you Lissa, Owning Pink, my gorgeous boyfriend, my amazing therapist, and the amazing people who support me...I am getting braver and little more wacky everyday.

I also have dust bunnies in my house...and some mystery "meat" in a plastic container in the back of my fridge. LOL. (I am waiting to see how long it takes for my boyfriend to say something to me about it.)

Robin's picture

=that's= what we're talkin' about!

Good for you, steppin' up and bein' braver. Wanna hear something more about the dust you can write your name in? Sure you do. In the back bedroom, which is mostly a big storage closet, there is dust on the blinds (something which I think are the biggest PIA in an entire house to clean) it reached a point I decided "What the hell, I can replace them easier than clean them now!" so they continued to accumulate dust & now it's close to being lint, like peel off the layer of cotton fuzz lint from the dryer filter. But, you know what? I've got way more fun things to do with my life than detaching, taking blinds outside to hose off & scrub, then re-install in a catch-all room nobody ever sees. I'd rather be going to one of my pilates or yoga classes, gardening or taking dog a hike w/ my dog -- things that feed my soul ;)

Anonymous's picture

Why, thank you...Lissa. I love me too!

AND while I'm at it...I am so imperfect that I'm brave enough not to be Anonymous anymore. I'm Adrya, from Miami, Florida; and, thanks to you Lissa, Owning Pink, my gorgeous boyfriend, my amazing therapist, and the amazing people who support me...I am getting braver and little more wacky everyday.

I also have dust bunnies in my house...and some mystery "meat" in a plastic container in the back of my fridge. LOL. (I am waiting to see how long it takes for my boyfriend to say something to me about it.)

Anonymous's picture


No one brave enough? LOL!!

I'll do it. I am really imperfect. I take pills for my depression (and I'm a better person for it...cause otherwise I would be dangerously imperfect.) I am divorced, too...no kids...and I'm happy about it. I like Chef Boyardee, Little Debbie Cakes and Vienna Sausages. I drink Starbucks Frappuccinos every day! My money...my butt. I have frizzy hair. I don't ever wear make up. I love to eat in bed late at night. I had gastric bypass surgery and it wasn't an easy way out...so judge me after you have your tummy cut in half. I have a weird obsession with parmesan cheese and ketchup. Not together...well, okay maybe. (Note to self: try it.) I whine a lot, proudly. I think women who work out and get sweaty is sexy. (Thus, I am hardcore and sexy.) I hate flip flops. I use sack backs for purses because I make no time between being stylish and going to the gym. I don't own an iphone or i-anything. Last, but not least, I like Obama.

There's more but I can't think of them right now. To be honest, I think I am pretty perfect just as I am. If people don't like it...oh well. Their complete and so sad loss.

Anonymous's picture

my imperfection!

Oh boy..where do I start..bossy, know it all, impatient, but on the other hand, I can be gentle, kind, and a great listener!,,go figure..constantly working on getting it together..and still going stronger than ever at age 70!! Loving life and looking for ways to make positive changes to my life!

Love your comments Lissa..

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