The Pressure to Be Perfect

4326 Words Mar 22nd, 2013 18 Pages
The Bell Jar and Black Swan: The Pressure to be Perfect

In a society where competition among others and influences from the media are becoming increasingly prevalent by the decade, it is easy for one to feel the extreme pressure to be perfect. Many individuals face the internal conflict of feeling that they are not adequate enough for various personal or societal standards, often leading to unhealthy insecurities, mental and emotional instabilities, and identity crises. Firstly, society’s reminders to individuals to reach a superficial level of perfection create unhealthy stress within oneself, leading to progressive depression. Furthermore, the even harsher mental and emotional pressures put on by one’s loved ones accumulate to cause
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It is the feeling of not being good enough for the world that crushes her self-esteem and will to succeed, as later on she begins to contemplate harming her body and even committing suicide.

The protagonist in Black Swan, prima ballerina Nina Sayers, faces a similar ignition to her mental instabilities through the pressures of society. In this case, Nina is naturally a perfectionist who tries to strive in the highly competitive ballet industry, which takes a huge toll on her physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is evident that throughout the course of Nina’s training for her big debut as Swan Queen in the ballet company’s annual production, she is obsessed with the idea of perfection to live up to society’s expectations of what a prima ballerina should be. When the former prima ballerina of the company, Beth McIntyre, unexpectedly retires, the director, Thomas Leroy, introduces her to the entire ballet industry at a gala. He announces, “But as we bid adieu to one star, we welcome another! We're opening our season with my new version of Swan Lake. Taking the role of our new Swan Queen, the exquisite, Nina Sayers” (Aronofsky). This puts Nina under the spotlight and creates very high stakes for her, possibly ones that are too heavy for such a young girl to handle, as she is now pressured into filling the shoes of a legendary prima ballerina – a symbol of

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