I was struck with something the actress Leslie Mann said in an interview in the December 21, 2013 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Here is a quote from the article:
“When I was little, my family said, ‘you know, when kids aren’t attractive, sometimes they grow up to be attractive, she says.’ But I don’t see myself as pretty. My face is weird and long. I do weird things with my mouth and I have a weird voice. I’m just, like, weird.”
That sounds exactly like so many of the middle and high school girls I counsel and see at my retreats and camps. So unhappy and insecure about their looks and their attractiveness to guys. Some of the angst is about the stage they are going through with so many changes and not enough support and guidance through the stage.
But it’s also about what girls have heard from important people in their lives, and especially their parents. Little comments that seem innocuous to parents can get blown up or distorted in girls minds. They are so sensitive about their looks and about who they are.
Parents comments about their daughters weight, figure, or comparing them to other girls can be really damaging to girls sense of themselves. Leslie Mann took her mom’s comments and made a decision about herself that probably went something like this:
‘I’m not very pretty; I’m not as pretty as the other girls, and therefore I’m not as good as them; I’m not going to fit in or be popular; boys won’t like me or find me attractive or desire me; I’m weird!!!”
These kind of thoughts become decisions about yourself, and eventually become beliefs which will guide and affect your actions in life. One of the things I do at my personal growth/leadership retreats and camps for girls and in my Strong Girls Strong World Program in schools is to guide them through a process where they can become aware of the decisions they have made about themselves, and to challenge and switch the ones that are not true or healthy for them. It is incredibly freeing for girls to know that they are in charge of how they feel about themselves and what stories they make of their life experiences.
So thank you Leslie Mann for your honesty. I will use your story in my work with girls, and hope it can allow them to let go of any unhealthy beliefs they have about themselves, and to move forward in their lives unencumbered by such negative baggage.