Many of us will have watched the Real Housewives series of programmes or seen the press and magazine coverage of their antics and lifestyles. The stories of these ‘real housewives’ and WAGs may fill us with a mixture of horror, envy and disdain as we view their reported choices and excessive ways, particularly as they’re often seen as role models for young girls. We may speculate that their more outrageous behaviour is done to maintain public attention and help reinforce their celebrity status.
But if we dig a little below the surface, behind the glamour and glitz, we can see that real housewives have their own concerns, worries and issues. Indeed, some are living out personal crises, making life-changing decisions and even using their time on the show to raise their public profile and gain exposure for their own existing businesses.
Oftentimes ‘Real Housewives’ can appear detached from reality and normality, living in a continual flurry of visits to expensive shops, restaurants and beauty salons. Maintaining such a high-profile lifestyle involves a lot of pressure to keep up appearances and be seen to be living the fairytale existence. Being photographed partying, drinking cocktails, maybe spending their husband or partner’s money in a whimsical self-indulgent flurry of activity, bickering over trivia, appearing to sulk if they’re not treated to appropriate gifts or get what they want can make them appear spoilt, selfish and childish.
We’ve no doubt noticed in magazines and on social media how many of the younger WAGs and Real Housewives seem to look the same, morphing into each other with identi-kit hairstyles, dress styles, breast sizes, sporting smooth, wrinkle-free faces and pouting lips. Often one is indistinguishable from another in a group photograph. This may be their aim, providing reassurance that they’re doing it right, following the right guidelines to be part of this elite, exclusive group, much like young children who need to wear the same brands so that they feel they belong.
But these choices can indicate insecurity about having an individual appearance and identity. If they looked or acted differently what would be the consequences, would they be okay, good enough? They may live in constant dread of their appearance changing, of putting on a little weight, of finding a grey hair or the tiniest wrinkle. How could a person find the time to retain their personality and identity whilst still maintaining constant surveillance over every aspect of their image. Being the perfect wife, mother, woman means never really relaxing or letting go of control, otherwise things may slip and someone else may be there, ready to step into their shoes.
Whenever we choose to judge someone else it’s inevitably done from our own perspective, but when we go through tough times, difficult emotions and pain it’s a very personal, relative experience. If we dismiss or belittle another person’s problems, efforts or situation because of their apparent good fortune, attractive appearance, wealth, status or perceived lucky breaks we’re doing them and ourselves a disservice. Few of us are so secure and confident in ourselves and our self-belief, or so emotionally resilient that we remain unaffected by the hardships life sometimes throws our way. Deep down most of us need love, kindness and acceptance; we crave reassurance that we’re okay.
As a Real Housewife there’s continual pressure to look the part and never age. Maintaining this must become onerous, tedious and exhausting at times. Every aspect of their life, their wardrobe, personal fitness sessions and treatments can fill each day, becoming almost a fulltime job. Often everyone else has an opinion, wants to give their advice, become part of the team, so presenting a magazine/Stepford wife persona, living the dream.
Every so often a Real Housewife is seen to step away from the lure of fame and leave the limelight behind, or they decide to use it to their advantage and develop a charitable or business initiative, create a product, write a book, use their position as a force for good. You will then see her transition and become more than her public persona. In leaving behind her character from the show she can reclaim her name, establish her identity and be recognised for her talents and attributes in her own right, no longer part of the brand!.
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.