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Blog: Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 – The pressures of being perfect

With grateful thanks to our blogger Annabelle Martin

17 May 2025

Pressure of being perfect (Mental Health)

Any of these sound familiar? “I’ve been stuck being PERFECT my whole entire life!! (Isabella from Encanto) I will never pass for a perfect bride. (Mulan) I’m just so sick of being PERFECT!!!” (Ming from Turning Red)

Yes, I know that they are all from Disney movies (I grew up with Disney movies!!) BUT….all of the characters all deal with what I’m talking about today: Being perfect and not being able to keep it up. Whether it’s to keep your family happy (Like Mulan and Isabella) or carrying on legacies (Like Ming and her daughter Mei-Mei from Turning Red) or to keep up with today’s TOUGH standards (Being beautiful, working hard or feeling like you’re enough).

Let me explain them in a little more detail. (Spoilers!!)

Isabella: She’s the ‘Golden Child’ in the Madrigal family who must be perfect all day, EVERYDAY to keep the family happy and marry someone who she actually doesn’t want, especially her grandmother. Imagine how TIRING, STRESSFUL and DRAINING that must be!! (I know that people from different cultures can relate to this feeling all too well.) When she finally breaks free (What Else Can I Do) she realizes with her help of her sister Maribel that she doesn’t need to be perfect, just to be herself.

Mulan: ‘When will my refection show who I am inside?’ She wants to be free but at the same time she needs to honour her family and impress the Matchmaker, then she decides to take her father’s place to keep her father safe as she knew he wouldn’t survive the war against the Huns which is a selfless and fearless act. She shows the army, her family and most of all to herself that being yourself is all you need to in order to gain honour and be who were meant to be.

Ming/Mei-Mei: Making your family proud is a VERY big deal in Asian Culture which is shown in Turning Red with Mei-Mei who’s just become a red panda (A curse passed down from her ancestors) Mei wants to keep the panda as she learns to live and adapt to life with it (with big her from her friends) but her mom Ming is scared that the panda would tear her and her daughter (like it nearly did with her and Ming’s mom, who has a scar from a time that Ming lost her control of her panda.) But by the end of the movie Mei’s family accept that it’s her life, her panda, her choice. “So don’t hold back. The farther you go, the prouder I’ll be.”

So that’s how being perfect is shown on film but if you’re struggling with perfection, how can you tell whether you are a perfectionist and how can you stop it? (I know it’s easier said than done these tips will at least make a start.)

Some clear signs that you might be a perfectionist include:

You cannot start a task until you are sure you can execute it flawlessly (procrastination).

You take much longer than others to complete the same task.

You see the end product as the most crucial part of a task.

You think a task is not done unless you think it is perfect. (Wahome, 2021)

Perfection isn’t a mental illness but it is a common factor in many mental disorders, particularly those based on compulsive thoughts and behaviours, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD).  (www.psychologytoday.com, n.d.)

So those are some sighs, now here are some ways to stop it: Letting go of the comparison mind-set can help people achieve at a high level, without being beholden to some impossibly perfect ideal. They can do this by practicing mindfulness and being present in the moment, using compassionate self-talk, and challenging negative self-judgments. The key is to realize that an endeavour can be worthwhile even if it’s not perfect. (www.psychologytoday.com, n.d.) So in other words: do things not because they aren’t making you perfect, or that’s what other people do, just do things because you WANT TO!!

All of these characters all struggle with being perfect but the one thing that they all have in common is that when they stop worrying about what people think is right they start to feel like they are who they TRULY are. Sooner or later people will realize that you aren’t perfect, because deep down we all know that NOBODY’S PERFECT!! So the best thing to do is be yourself, embrace who you are and love yourself for you!!

In the words of Pink: “You ARE PERFECT to me.”

 

 

References:
 Encanto. (2021). California, United States : Walt Disney Studios, Mulan. (1998). California, United States : Walk Disney Pictures, Turning Red. (2022). California, United States : Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Wahome, C. (2021). How to Overcome Perfectionism. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-to-overcome-perfectionism. Accessed 15th May 2024.
http://www.psychologytoday.com. (n.d.). Perfectionism | Psychology Today United Kingdom. [online] Available at: https://tinyurl.com/644c2frj. Accessed 15th May 2024.

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