Young girls who struggle waking up each morning as they’re getting ready for school, thinking about what they’re going to wear and how they’ll look – this is what consumes the minds of most pre-teen and teenage girls. It’s the thought process of who’s going to judge me today? Will my hair look pathetic? I love my eyes, but seriously, who cares about my eyes? My legs aren’t thin enough, why can’t I have legs like that pretty girl in my math class? So what if I’m not perfect? Why can’t everyone just accept me for who I am?
Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out as a parent and I think I understand my daughters, within a moment’s notice, it’s suddenly all jarring and confusing. I don’t get them at all. I think what makes it all better is that I get to see and talk to so many other teenagers who fall into the same patterns as my own girls. The contradictory things they do and say, the slightest annoyances, the “us versus them”, or that alien life form you think is standing in the room with you - “will my real daughter please come back?”
It’s what our culture of girls defines as pretty or pretty ENOUGH. Pretty enough for who? Good enough for who? Bombarded by thoughts of measuring up to certain standards. Like “are my boobs big ENOUGH?” “Is my hair blonde ENOUGH? “ Is my ass small ENOUGH?” Being a good girl, the perfect girl, who is nice to everybody all of the time, and being the girl who hardly makes mistakes, that girl who only speaks up when she should – these are the pervasive thoughts where perfectionism takes over the minds of young girls.
How do we empower our daughters? How do we let them know we understand the cruel and complex world they’re living in that causes them to feel imperfect and misunderstood? How do we accentuate the beautiful, capable and valuable qualities about them when they need to feel it and know it themselves? Maybe if they started with small steps to see how imperfect others are around them. You know, the one your daughter told you about. That pretty girl in her math class with the perfect legs, the perfect hair, and the perfect teeth. Yah well, as pretty perfect as she comes across, she doesn’t have the perfect life. You know nothing about her. That pretty perfect girl who you think has it all might actually tear herself apart each and every day. And she probably thinks the same things that every other teenage girl thinks about. And she compares herself to other girls too.
So, let’s tell our daughters to strive for progress and not perfection. Let’s give them the affirmations to look at ourselves as beautiful ENOUGH, as worthy ENOUGH, as strong ENOUGH, as good ENOUGH, and let us say “so what if I’m not perfect?”