How Mixed Messaging is Diluting the Empowerment Message
Yesterday I posted a link to this article, “Please Stop Empowering Me”, on Facebook and Twitter. It was written by a Harvard University student, Nian Hu and expressed her frustration with the girl empowerment movement. It came up in my Google search on “Do teen girls care about the empowerment movement?”
Why was I searching this? The whole topic of whether girls really do care about the empowerment movement has been weighing on me recently. In the last few years, girls have been surrounded by empowering messages from all forms of media. Do girls have “empowerment fatigue” or has the message become so diluted with disingenuous organizations jumping on the bandwagon that the message has lost its relevance?
My daughter posted this on her Facebook page. I think it is brilliant (and her as well)! I love that in her crazy, college life, this resonated with her and she felt it was relevant enough to share. I wish I had attribution for it, I can’t take credit for these words. Thank you to whomever wrote this honest and straightforward advice. Please share this with the other women and girls in your life.
“How to talk to your daughter about her body Step One:
Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
As They Look Forward, Encourage Them to Enjoy the Journey
It is graduation time!! Some of us are going through graduations of pre-schoolers, elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers or any combination of the above. It is a time of great excitement, anticipation and sentimentality. With the end-of-season banquets, spring concerts and year-end awards assemblies, I still feel the bittersweetness of another school year coming to a close, even though I have no graduates this year.
Next year, however, Deb and I will have three graduates between us. So, I have to admit, I’m enjoying the quiet calm of continuity this spring. I know next spring will be a whirlwind of ceremonies, celebrations and change. Even now, as things should be winding down, there is still a sense of gearing up for all of the changes that are in store a year from now.
Over the past few years there has been a lot written about the “Growth Mindset”. The Growth Mindset is based on extensive research by Psychology Professor, Carol Dweck. While whole books have been written about mindset, in a nutshell it concludes that natural intelligence and talent are not the only keys to success. A person who perceives herself as less intelligent but who puts effort and dedication into learning, can work hard to develop their intellect and expand their brainpower. In the end, the person with greater innate intelligence and a Fixed Mindset may not enjoy the same level of success as her less innately intelligent counterpart with a Growth Mindset.
Basically, our ability to achieve is not fixed. What we are capable of accomplishing is based on effort and expectations. Schools, coaches and corporations apply the Growth Mindset philosophy to motivate and develop their students, athletes and employees. As I was reading about all of this I thought, can’t the Growth Mindset theory apply to achieving confidence and self-esteem as well? How can we foster a Growth Mindset in our girls in relation to their feelings about themselves and what they are capable of achieving?
My daughter sent me this text out of the blue. And yes, my initial reaction was, “omg, something must be wrong!” I called her to make sure everything was ok and other than being sleep deprived, like most college students, she was fine but disturbed over a post on social media blatantly degrading women.
After having peace of mind that everything was okay, I took a moment to reflect on the words my daughter so quickly texted me and realized that she had just sent me a beautiful gift! No Hallmark card, no pretty wrapping paper, but a beautiful affirmation that all of those years telling her to be strong, authentic, take pride in herself, exercise her independence and to “Be Your Own Girl” had not fallen on deaf ears!