How are parents and the culture messing up girls today?
On the one hand, we are conditioning girls to focus on being competitive, driven, ambitious, willing to step on people to get to the top, and individual achievement. But we are still holding girls to the standard of being ‘good girls’; i.e. be nice to everyone, put other people’s needs before your own, don’t stand out, be obedient and follow the rules, wait your turn etc. These mixed messages put a lot of stress on girls, causing a constant internal tension.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Girls also hear these conflicting messages:
Be assertive but not too assertive; be hot and sexy but not sexual; be a leader but mostly from behind and quietly; be competitive with a winner-take-all attitude but also be close to the other girls; be authentic but try to fit in; take care of yourself but put other people’s needs first; be a loyal friend but you are out-of-the-loop if you don’t gossip and talk about other people behind their backs.
So you’re supposed to be perfect at everything and be at the top of your class and on the best sports teams winning national championships, but there is also always this constant voice in the back of your head saying: “not too high, not too loud, not too a lot of things.”
You can be whatever you want to be, but…you can’t be yourself! It’s no wonder girls feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed a lot.