WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?
Ten years ago I started Good For You Girls to keep girls away from chemicals during puberty. As a mom of two daughters they had severe asthma and allergies and I was hell bent on keeping toxic chemicals away from girls during this critical stages in their bodies development. The idea of natural products at that time were still largely a new concept so I am pleased that the world has finally caught up to my vision of better products for girls. But in that same timeframe I have also seen some alarming changes in the world of girls. Nowhere is this more apparent than when I speak in person to middle school girls. Speaking to girls is honestly one of my absolute favorite things to do. Girls have such an authentic light that is infectious and inspiring. Ten years ago their questions were centered around how hormones affected their bodies and how bacteria gets trapped in pores and creates pimples. Today I am often asked about gender inequality in the workplace and sexual harassment. WHAT! This has been troubling me for a long time and I feel the need to lend my two cents. I hope that you will find value in my words.
Below I have shared an article written by Rachel Simmons an authority in girl behavior. I admire Rachel’s work but I feel there is an important conversation being left out of the mix and that is a girls innate nature of nurturing. In her piece she discusses “Roll Overload” where girls are expected to be superhuman: ambitious, smart and hardworking, athletic, pretty and sexy, socially active, nice and popular — both online and off.
But I see another role that has been overlooked and that is the roll of saving the world and humanity. Girls are being used as social justice warriors for absolutely every possible activism campaign on the planet. Girls need to worry about being girls, period! Learning to figure yourself out is hard enough and I fear we are robbing girls of an important and crucial time of personal development. In “Seeping Beauties Awakened Women” by Dr. Tim Jordan (highly recommended by the way) he explores the important transformation of girls to women emotionally, socially, psychologically and biologically. “It takes a lot of quiet, reflective, alone time for girls to discover what’s going on inside of them; to know and understand what they are feeling; to know what they need: to figure out who they are and who they aspire to become.” But we are not allowing this and every activism hashtag is proof of the pressure we are putting on them. Now I’m not saying that girls should not be aware, I absolutely do but at what age? Social media is bombarding them day in and day out. It is proven that girls spend more time on social media than boys so they are more vulnerable to the exposure to issues beyond what they should be worried about. Girls in middle school have a hard time navigating bullying and understanding that the “Instagram Face” is not reality and yet people expect them not to be terrified by the #MeToo movement? From my experience girls are suffering from insecurities and self esteem issues more than ever. Girls are special because of their caring and empathetic nature and it is our job to protect them until they are truly able to understand. It is unfair for the world to burden them with fear and anger. If you have a daughter who has shown stress because of a social media movement talk to her honestly. Tell her it’s ok to worry about HER right now. Teach her how to nurture herself in mind body and spirit. Find ways together to shut the noise out and find quiet time through yoga or journaling. Sit on opposite ends of the couch and read a book for a half an hour. Go for a walk together, have tea and talk. This down time will be tremendous for both of you. Trust me, the time you have with her is rapidly fleeting. Take the pressure off of her, we promise she will grow up to be amazing. But let her grow up in a healthy, safe protected space where she can discover who she is so she can become a strong, intentional young lady.
Teenage girls are facing impossible expectations
By Rachel Simmons
Original Post from CNN – February 2018
At a moment when girls enjoy historic opportunity — watching Chloe Kim and Mikaela Shiffrin soar to gold, and Oprah preach girl power from the Golden Globes stage — teen girls tell researchers they are twice as depressed, anxious and stressed out as boys. And though girls beat out boys in college and graduate school admissions, according to a University of California-Los Angeles study, female college freshmen have never been lonelier or less happy.
In the so-called age of girl power, we have failed to cut loose our most regressive standards of female success — like pleasing others and looking sexy — and to replace them with something more progressive — like valuing intelligence and hard work. Instead, we have shoveled more and more expectation onto the already robust pile of qualities we expect girls to possess.
And social media — where, according to Pew Research, girls tend to dominate, using visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat in far greater numbers than boys — isn’t helping the matter. The pressure to get at least one like per minute on Instagram and keep up scores of daily Snapchat “streaks” is unending.
“I can’t go to sleep at night until I answer all my notifications,” one high school student told me last week. Adolescent girls get the least sleep of any group of youth.
Plus, a daily feed of friends and celebrities showing off tight abs and thin arms deepens girls’ body shame, new research has found.
Girls who spend the most time using technology, a 2017 study revealed, were most likely to say they were sad or depressed nearly every day. They were also more likely to want to change their appearance, not enjoy coming to school and not participate in sports and other activities.
But social media and the internet are only part of the issue. I have been asking adolescent girls to describe what it means to them to be successful. They tell me they are under pressure to be superhuman: ambitious, smart and hardworking, athletic, pretty and sexy, socially active, nice and popular — both online and off.
Psychologists call this “role overload” — too many roles for a single person to play — and “role conflict”– when the roles you play are at odds with one another. The effort required to get a bikini body will cut away at the hours you need to spend in the lab to get into medical school.
The sheer impossibility of measuring up has left a generation of girls with the enduring belief that, no matter how many achievements they rack up, they are not enough as they are. The path their mothers and grandmothers cleared so their girls could enjoy every opportunity is marked by self criticism, overthinking and fear of failure.
In other words, we are raising a generation of girls who may look exceptional on paper but are often anxious and overwhelmed in life — who feel that, no matter how hard they try, they will never be smart enough, successful enough, pretty enough, thin enough, well liked enough, witty enough online or sexy enough.
An “anything is possible” mentality has transformed into a mental health crisis. Affluent girls, in particular, who get the most access and opportunity to achieve, exhibit more adjustment problems, across more domains, than any other group of American youth — yet continue to push themselves forward. And high achieving girls, Stanford professor Carol Dweck found, are the group of youth most “debilitated” by failure.
Girls need help redefining success in healthier ways. New research has found that self-compassion, a three-step practice that teaches self-kindness in the face of setbacks, relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression for teens, especially those who suffer from chronic academic stress. Notably, high school girls currently have the lowest levels of self-compassion of any group of youth.
Finding purpose — doing something you genuinely love that joins you to something bigger than yourself, or makes the world better — can also shield adolescents from the most negative effects of stress. At a moment when so many teens get the message that what a college admissions committee wants matters more than anything they care about, helping girls find their “north star” has never been more important.
Adults should also stop telling girls they put too much pressure on themselves, and instead reassure daughters that it’s a toxic culture that is asking too much of girls. This can mitigate girls’ feelings of isolation and self-blame.
To defer to someone else’s definition of a life well-lived is a Faustian bargain. As Anna Quindlen has written, “If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”