Fifteen year-old-girls are like exposed nerves walking around in the world, waiting for the wind to blow and send them into hysterics.
In order to understand what creates such profound insecurity in teenage girls, I interviewed my daughter and her friends. I asked them what makes them the most insecure. Most of the discussion surrounded what was wrong with their appearance. Each of them had very big complaints about the way they look, from concerns about their weight to their skin to the size of their feet. But that was just the tip of the insecurity iceberg…
Girl 1: I am insecure about my body because so many girls post photos of themselves in bathing suits on social media and they are so much thinner than I am.
Girl 2: Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m smart enough, like everyone else in my class knows more than I do and is smarter than I am.
Girl 3: I feel pressure to fit in sometimes. There is so much pressure to constantly post on social media all the time, and you are judged by what you post and how you react to other people’s posts.
Girl 4: Sometimes, I feel like my features are not feminine enough compared to other girls my age. I am taller and larger than most girls I know, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
What was amazing to me was that their lists were endless and very specific, as if they sit around thinking about these things on a regular basis. It made me wonder what we’re doing wrong as a culture, what kinds of messages we’re giving young women to make them feel this way.
Somehow, we need to do better as a society in supporting girls and showing them their self-worth, their value. We need to contradict the damaging messages they’re receiving online that tell them they’re not pretty enough, thin enough, or cool enough. I’m not exactly sure how we do this, but I believe it starts at home.
We need to remember that, by design, teenage girls have fragile egos molded by a modern world that equates supernatural beauty with happiness. In order to overcome this devotion to an unattainable ideal, we need to help young women find strength in who they are on the inside and what they have the potential to accomplish in the world.
So, I asked my daughter if there is anything I say to her on a regular basis that makes her feel good about herself, that helps to deflect these negative messages teenage girls are bombarded with every day.
“Yes, Mom, you told me confidence is the most attractive part of a woman, and I believe it.”
It starts at home …