One of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond is the idea that imperfection is taking on new appeal, providing a more unfiltered, human version of reality. While researching Proudly Imperfect, we talked with Jill Savage, whose book No More Perfect Moms urges mothers to “shelve their desires for perfection along with their insecurities of not measuring up to other moms.” The founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an organization for moms, Savage is a mother of five and an author of several other books, including Professionalizing Motherhood. She discussed some of the factors that are creating expectations of perfection among mothers, why embracing imperfection makes people happier and how brands can connect by painting more authentic portrayals of consumers’ lives.
What was the inspiration behind your book, No More Perfect Moms?
The biggest thing was helping [moms] to feel like their life is normal—knowing that it’s OK to fail and ultimately knowing that even through failure, our families can thrive and do well. More and more, I’ve learned the power of authenticity and vulnerability. It opens people up to encouragement and resources that they might not have known about. It also helps other people know they’re not alone.
More than anything, the book was a desire to help women know they’re normal, their struggles are normal, and ultimately to help them learn to love their own real life. If we keep looking for this ideal that doesn’t exist, we become discouraged and even disillusioned or discontent. That becomes really dangerous when it comes to marriage, family, home and parenting. I believe marriages end because perfection is expected. I believe parents give up when their kids are in their teen years and life gets hard or the kids are not turning out the way they thought they would.
I really wanted to capture a realistic vision for moms to see that imperfect is what is normal and right, and we have to learn how to love that and embrace that.
Is this something you see fathers embracing as well, the idea of being an imperfect parent?
I don’t know that fathers set themselves up for failure as easily as mothers do. There are men out there who have unrealistic expectations of their wives, of their kids, but there are not as many of them as there are women. As women we’re very connected to our culture. We are very connected to other women. We’re extra-sensitive to comparing our lives to other women’s lives. I do not know that men struggle with comparison like we do.
One of the phrases I use in the book is “Never compare your insides to someone else’s outside.” As women, we particularly do that. When we used to talk about keeping up with the Joneses, we only saw them once a week, and that was on Sunday at church. If you were going to compare yourself to other people, you didn’t see them that often, and today you see the Joneses every time you log onto Facebook. Now we’re really set up for comparison, and it’s a really dangerous thing to do.
I do a thing when I speak: I have some professional pictures that were taken of my family. I put up the whole family picture and talk about it: “Right now in your mind you’re comparing your insides to my outsides. That’s because that’s what we do as women. So you look at the picture, everybody is smiling, everybody is color-coordinated. It all looks good. But let me take off the mask and introduce you to our insides.” And then I go through with every family member and I talk about their struggles.
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