Avengers: Endgame, the final installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avenger series came out weeks ago, and unless you have been under a rock or have zero interest in the franchise (Nebula, who?), you’ve probably already seen the movie. For fans, the movie was such a compelling final saga and provided such satisfying closure, that it’s hard not to continue reflecting and obsessing over the movie.
The movie was full of moments ranging from exciting to tear-jerking, offering closure to some of our favorite characters. But one moment that stood out to me was Thor’s conversation with his mother, Frigga.
An overweight, drunk, and bereft Thor, accompanied by Rocket, travel back in time to Asgard to collect the reality stone. While Thor lurks around, he is discovered by his mother, Frigga (who is deceased in the present day from which Thor has traveled). She can tell he must be from the future and says the future hasn’t been kind to him. That’s when the big, Viking god breaks down and cries, confiding in his mom that he feels like a failure.
With that, Frigga offers a piece of sage wisdom: “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be, Thor. A measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”
Not who you’re supposed to be, but who you are
Is it just me, or did Frigga just deliver the Verily tagline, “Less of who you should be, more of who you are”? We should not measure ourselves by who we’re “supposed to be” but by how well we succeed at being who we are. Yes! This—a thousand times over!
The “should” in the Verily tagline refers to the same idea Frigga is getting at here—what others think you’re supposed to be or should be, which might be very different than who you truly are at your best.
The Verily team came up with this tagline from its earliest days because in women’s media there’s so much “you should look like this” and “you should do that,” not to mention very forced product placement and agenda pushing. Women already get this so much from the world around us, that we don’t need more pressure coming from our own supposedly women-centered magazines and websites. And yet so much of women’s media still seems to trade on women’s insecurities, suggesting we’re not good enough unless we conform to a narrow level of fitness, outgoing-ness, sexiness, career-drivenness, and the list goes on.
We need more reminders not to worry about what others think we’re supposed to do and more encouragement to get in touch with our truest selves. We are constantly surrounded by so many expectations, pressures, and unrealistic standards. It can feel nearly impossible to succeed, and even the strongest and most stable among us (e.g., superheroes) struggle. In striving for perfection we will constantly be let down because perfection is, in most cases, elusive and doesn’t guarantee happiness. By striving to do our best and giving ourselves the grace to get back up when something disappointing or unplanned occurs, we give ourselves room to be human and truly ourselves.
At the end of Endgame, Thor passes along his mother's advice to his female warrior companion, Valkyrie. It’s not how well we live up to who we’re supposed to be, it’s how well we live up to who we are. The Marvel writers may not have realized they were drawing right from our tagline, but for many women following Verily and looking for a refreshing outlook amid a depressing media landscape, it’s some mighty familiar and timeless advice.