Most girls doubt themselves. Research tells us that girls' sense of confidence and self-esteem peak at age 9. Then it's downhill. How could this be? It happens because just about then, around age 9, girls figure out they cannot possible measure up. They begin to understand the cultural expectations and then they come to believe they are not enough. They aren't smart enough, beautiful enough, thin enough, or quick enough (add your own variation of the 'not-enough' belief). Girls feel unworthy. And they feel shame. To be simple, shame is the belief that "I'm not good enough" AND "I'm like that to the core - it defines me." Shame leads to anxiety, depression, bullying, eating disorders, academic struggle, and much more. In order for shame to exist and survive it needs secrecy, silence, and judgment. Those elements are easy to find in our culture - no one talks about their failings and feelings of inadequacy yet we are all quick to judge. Look how much weight so-and-so gained. OMG, can you believe so-and-so did....
We are sacrificing our girls to the culture. WE need to stop it. How? Teach girls these messages:
- You are human and imperfect - and you are supposed to be!
- You are worthy of love and belonging.
- You've made mistakes - so have I.
- Let's learn from our mistakes, forgive ourselves, and move on.
Study up, pass on positive messages to your daughter, and blow shame out of the water by talking about these uncomfortable topics: real beauty, failure, inadequacy, sex, hate, jealousy, and economic failure...Here are some references for you. The first two are TED talks and they are wonderful and the third reference is an article on shame.
Remember - shame requires secrecy. We so often remain silent about topics that make us uncomfortable. Unfortunately for our daughters, these are just the topics they are struggling with. Open up. Talk. You can do it.