Everyone knows what a Good Girl is supposed to be like: perfect, confident, intelligent, and athletic, all while being a polite follower who cares deeply to please others. It is hard to be a female in our society without feeling the pressure of the Good Girl or later of a Good Wife.
Ten years ago, 74% of girls said they were under a lot of pressure to please everyone. A majority said they were expected to speak softly and not cause trouble. I suspect this pressure has only gotten worse over the last 10 years. Yet, to always be kind and selfless is impossible, "making Good a finish line girls never get to cross. As a result, girls who aspire to Goodness are ruthlessly hard on themselves... Girls become their own worst enemies... Good Girls are doomed to fail," says best selling author and girl expert Rachel Simmons. If you or a girl you love suffers from trying to be Good instead of Real, read The Curse of the Good Girl.
I find the second half of the book helpful, where Rachel gives tips on how to let go of societal pressures and live life more authentically. She helps you be more real.
First, help your daughter (or yourself) understand her feelings, the ones she shows on the outside and the ones she experiences on the inside. Help her understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel and that she is the only person who can say how she is feeling. Even negative emotions are important and need to be acknowledged.
Once she can identify her true feelings, then she can learn to speak her truth (which most girls avoid) through "I Statements."
Throw hinting out the window. In a relationship, people are responsible for communicating their thoughts and feelings directly. If a friend is dropping hints, don't reward the behavior by asking "What's wrong." Instead ask, "Is there something you're trying to tell me? I would really appreciate it if you could be direct."
The "Rules of Engagement" for face-to-face confrontation are:
"I really like working with you on this project, and I also felt hurt when you made a comment about my clothes in front of our lab partners in science class. I'm sorry I didn't save you a seat in class. Perhaps you can text me before class next time if you want me to save you a seat."
Women, it is important to be clear and real in our own relationships in order to be happy and have true friendships or intimacy. Help stop the self-deprecating, dis-empowerment of women. Be a role model. Teach a young lady how to be real with herself and real with others. It is the honest and brave thing to do.
Keepin' it real,
Stephanie Patterson, MS, LMFT