It’s tough to be a girl. In fact, it’s crazy tough to be girl. Society inundates our young ones with some very skewed definitions of what a female is supposed to be. It can be daunting to provide a healthy definition for our kids. We will check out five ingredients for achieving girl power. Let’s do it!
In my past fifteen years in the mental health field I have had countless conversations with girls on the topic of body image and self value. It’s interesting how much of a role society and the pivotal people in their lives can play in their self perception. I believe the following five areas of interest can empower girls in some pretty amazing ways:
Five ingredients for achieving girl power…
1)Clothing- This is the mothership here. Hit any Target, Hollister, Abercrombie or any other clothing store in the mall and I’ll give you ten dollars if you can find a pair of shorts or bathing suit that is age appropriate for an eight year old and not a twenty year old.
Our girls are being wired to equate what they wear with their value. It’s our job to put an end to that. Dressing sexy at eight or eleven is disturbing. We’re sending a whacked message to both girls and boys on this one.
Shopping is pretty much as fun for me as watching the grass grow, but when it comes to ensuring our kids wear clothing that they like, but is age appropriate patience and persistence is key. Drink your coffee, take about three deep breaths every ten minutes and know you can do it. Old Navy and J Crew are two options that provide cute and modest without concern that your kid looks like an eight year old pole dancer.
2) Body Image- Whether it be the size negative zero model on a billboard in Times Square or the plus size model that’s a size four eating a hoagie in a fast food commercial the pressure to be skinny is wildly prevalent.
Encourage your daughters, nieces, grandkids to be healthy, but I urge you to never use the following words in your discussions with them: fat, obese, chunky, diet. Ears are tuned in and the quickest way for a young girl to equate their weight with value is when they are told their appearance is inadequate.
A healthy diet and exercise are important and when that’s a way of life it’s nothing shocking, but it can also be integrated into their lives subtly. Going for walks after dinner, aiming for incorporating fruits and veggies into their diet can help with the whole healthy vibe without actually saying words may cause some serious emotional damage.
3) Talents/Interests: Let your girl’s girl power shine! Encourage sports and hobbies that they find of interest and let them know, “they can do it!” Even in 2016 the playing field is far from even and at times you need persistence and your words (mom, dad, aunt, grandpa, etc.) go REALLY far. Encourage, guide and let them know their interests should be fun. But that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be easy.
I’ve surfed since I was sixteen. Even in 2016 surfing is predominately a male sport. Once in a while I paddle up to a line up with another female. But more often than not it’s me, myself and I. There have been times I have been cut off, given some pretty harsh looks or when I’m paddling out someone comes a little for comfort when they’re riding a wave. I’m pretty optimistic, but there have been my moments where I’ve had to bite my tongue or refrain from going all crazy surf chick. Aaaaahhh!!! It’s not always easy, but being a tool back doesn’t solve anything. I do my best to not let someone else’s issues impact my enjoyment of the sport. Sometimes that’s a struggle, but if I fold they win. That’s not happening on my watch.
Girl power and being part of something they enjoy is important for self esteem and character.
4)Word Power: Your words go far…girls need to hear that they’re important, beautiful (inside and out) and awesome. Encourage. Love. One of these days, “you throw like a girl” will be a compliment. I can’t wait for “you surf like a chick,” will be nothing short of epic. Let’s remind our girls they can indeed throw like a girl rocking it out and enjoy their interests without being any less awesome than the boys playing next to them.
5)Dudes: Before we can ever be in a healthy relationship we have to be in a good, healthy place as individuals. So often, our girls believe they will only be whole when they have a guy in their lives. False! Build on shaky ground the house is bound to crumble. This is an inevitable end with drama, tears and heart ache in the mix. Blah.
Dating is an inevitable part of adolescents, but healthy-stable relationships are the goal. To lay the groundwork for that to (hopefully) happen is empowering them. Remind them daily that they are special, awesome and epic as individuals. They don’t need someone else in their lives to be whole. Being in a relationship is about being a team, working together and becoming better people along the way. It’s 50-50, baby!
I believe we can raise healthy, confident, epic young girls who will be able to transition into awesome women. It’s a journey, but one that is worth it when the outcome brings on some serious girl power!
Peace, love and goodness!