Why Broken Women Are The Strongest Women

She is beautiful because she is resilient, optimistic, and strong as long as she can be.

woman sitting in the dark CandyRetriever / Shutterstock

At this point, we’ve all heard about the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer to give the cracks of the piece uniquely beautiful designs, right? Surely this information has been repeatedly shared on any of your social media feeds as an illustration of the analogy that broken things can be beautiful again... and you can too!!!

But while these golden bowl memes make a nicely succinct after-school-special message, the real secret isn’t that broken women aren’t just more beautiful — they're infinitely stronger than the rest of us as well. And I've got some advice for broken women.


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Here’s a much better analogy to share with your Pinterest crew: When a bone breaks, the body heals in such a way as to make that broken part stronger than ever before, usually becoming the strongest part of the bone altogether. If this can happen with something as simple as a bone, imagine what it must create in the human spirit.

It is no wonder then that the women who are, at some point, wholly shattered become the strongest among us.

Now, when I say a “broken woman,” I’m not talking about that gal whose husband/boyfriend/lover just dumped her so she’s making an ass out of herself at Margarita Wednesday every week. She’s unraveling and struggling, which is hard, but we’ve all been there. That’s life, honey.


The term "broken" does not pertain to the woman flailing and grasping for anyone’s attention because she’s been hurt and she’s lonely, horny, or needs validation. Similarly, I’m not talking about a woman who is going through a death in the family or a job loss, or a similar difficult-but-still-typical life situation.

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I see that we all have dark nights of the soul we all must walk through that make us stronger, more capable humans in the aftermath, but these are not the types of women. To an extent, we all endure and survive as part of the human experience, but there are a separate set of women whose brokenness has made them stronger than any of us can fathom.

No, when I refer to someone being “broken,” I am referring to those who have seen life’s dark underbelly, had it beat the life out of her, and somehow kept getting up to face another day. Maybe she’s barely holding on and maybe she’s not holding it together very well at all, but she’s still moving forward, dammit. She still looks at each new dawn and says, “Okay, let’s do this.” She is shattered through and through, but she’s not dead yet.


These are the women who have seen unspeakable acts of violence or endured countless years of mental torment or have had life weigh so heavily upon them that they function solely on sheer survival instincts. "And still, like air, they rise." 

I don’t believe, however, that there is any one type of woman this describes, by the way. I think the Phoenix women who rise from the rubble of terrible lives come from every demographic and socioeconomic background — I know because I’ve seen it personally. I believe these are the women who, when Life hands them a turd, craft it into a gourmet crap sandwich and smash it back in Life’s face simply because it isn’t in their blood to roll over and die.  

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And, unlike any repost about some gold bowls promises, it’s usually not glittery or marketable or aesthetically pleasing at all. Watching a woman find her strength is absolutely beautiful, but not in any heavily edited, Haute chic way you’re going to see on the sleek cover of Vogue. It is raw and animalistic and it digs deep into the human psyche to block out all the forces pushing us to self-destruct.


A woman finding her strength when she is shattered is not a linear path; there may be addiction and backsliding and terrible self-harm and sometimes even surrender to the same murky darkness that broke her in the first place. In fact, a broken woman who pulled herself from the quagmire of her past may even succumb to it later down the road.

She is not beautiful because she fulfills some arbitrary list of societal requirements; she is beautiful because she is resilient, optimistic, and strong as long as she can be.

Broken women are strong even when they are vulnerable. They are strong even when they have lost hope for what feels like the thousandth time. They are strong when they stumble and make mistakes that move them backward. They are strong because they keep facing new days. And that is what makes them beautiful, not the other way around. That is the best advice for broken women to remember.

Perhaps you can repair and learn to love yourself to be glistening and beautiful where your cracks once were — but to focus on whether or not you’re beautiful is to miss the point entirely.


But rebuild yourself to be stronger and you will, incidentally, be absolutely stunning. 

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Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer and activist oversharing her bizarre journey through mental illness, recovery, and parenting. Her words have appeared on Huffington Post, Time, Ravishly, and ThoughtCatalog.