WOMEN
10/15/2013 03:31 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

A New Image Of Female Authenticity

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NEW YORK -- When Kate Middleton was married but as yet unproductively un-pregnant, all they wanted was for her to inflate with child. When she obliged with an heir, all they wanted was for her inconvenient "mommy body" to scram. Tabloids gushed when seemingly it did.

The elusive standards of female perfection never draw closer. It's not just the cult of "mommy makeovers" or the relentless Photoshopping. To the old problem of image ideals is now added the problem of a world that expects more of women than beauty -- but expects it with a degree of perfection that mimics the older standards for surface achievements. Women are allowed to do big things, but must do them fully leaned-in, hands raised, having it all. What remains impregnable to them are those refuges that shelter so many men: ordinariness and muddling through.

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