Girl Pressure - Younger and Older
While much of Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter is more of a bunch of reminders of ideas/principles I’ve already thought about, she did open my eyes to the odd younger and older pressures that girls are facing.
Orenstein writes, “The identical midriff-baring crop top is sold to eight year-olds, eighteen year-olds, and forty-eight year-olds. The phases of our lives have become strangely blurred, as girls try to look like adult women and adult women primp and preen and work like crazy in order to look like girls.”
Girls are trying to look older, and women are trying to look younger. Neither group is happy with their looks; they both want what the other has.
Sometimes the tidal wave of unhealthy messages deluging our girls feels so big that I feel like I’m standing there with a small umbrella, trying to protect every girl I know. And while Orenstein’s book is very convicting, it’s not exactly hope-inspiring.
But Orenstein does mention something that many others (including me!) have mentioned in the past: we as women have enormous power in the messages we send to girls—about the way we feel about ourselves and the way we feel about them. Orenstein confesses that in her research of adolescent girls, she often uses a physical compliment or two as a way to connect with the girls she’s talking to (i.e., “I like your earrings.” “Where did you get that top?”). I confess I’ve done EXACTLY the same thing in youth ministry. It’s an easy, quick way to connect with a girl.
I’m going to try NOT to do that. I’m going to try to look for other ways to connect with girls, like asking them how soccer is going, or if they’ve heard back from their college of choice yet.
Orenstein also describes a mom who decided NOT to compliment her daughters on their physical attractiveness when the girls were all dressed up. Instead, she told them they were beautiful when they were dirty, disheveled, or in the bath - that way girls knew that it was THEM who was beautiful, not the clothes or accessories. That’s a good and do-able idea too.
What else are you doing to try to send positive messages to girls?
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