A Crack in the Mirror... What adolescence looks and feels like from the inside... Please click your left mouse button to advance to the next slide and you may use your <esc> key to exit at any time
Presentation prepared by Barbara Lieberman And dedicated to my own adolescent girl! Child Development 101 Cerro Coso Community College December 3, 2008
“ The girl in every woman precedes and shapes the woman in her. And to the extent to which girlhood is denied, liberated, and fostered, womanhood perishes or prospers." (Sohoni)
“ S ocial conditioning of one's belief and behaviour takes place in both conscious and unconscious ways. A child's social learning occurs initially in the family and is gradually extended outside. By the time they reach adolescence, girls will have been exposed to a wider domain, including extended family relations, schools, community, and in some cases, employment. Popular opinion about gender stereotypes is passed on through the family, school and the economic organizations of home and work, and through the media and organization and is set against a backdrop of history and tradition.” (Enabling Environment for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, 1996)
“ A s much as they are entitled to equal access to education and opportunities for life with their male counterparts, adolescent girls are also entitled to childhood. Adolescent girls have autonomous right to childhood, and thus they are entitled to be protected, defended, helped and taken care of by their families, by their parents and guardians, by the communities they live in, by their teachers, and by the states. Adolescent girls, like any other children, need security so that they can continue their education and develop themselves to their full potential. Children's rights encompass all basic human rights, including the rights to development and the right to equal opportunities. ” (Enabling Environment for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, 1996)
Self -esteem: “ The global evaluative dimension of the self. Self-esteem is also referred to as self-worth or self-image .” (Santrock, 2008, p. 428) In other words, self-esteem is the way we see ourselves. This image we hold is neither fixed nor based merely on facts such as weight and height. How one teen views herself encompasses much more than just what she sees in the mirror. Her self-image is also shaped by what she feels about herself and her place in the world, what her family values in terms of intelligence, outward beauty and other ideals, what she sees in the media, what she hears from her friends, what she learns in school, and how she interprets all of that and more. More often than not, what she feels, what she sees, and what she projects to the world are not the same thing.
“ T he story of Ophelia, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, shows the destructive forces that affect young women. As a girl, Ophelia is happy and free, but with adolescence she loses herself. When she falls in love with Hamlet, she lives only for his approval. She has no inner direction; rather she struggles to meet the demands of Hamlet and her father. Her value is determined utterly by their approval. Ophelia is torn apart by her efforts to please. When Hamlet spurns her because she is an obedient daughter, she goes mad with grief. Dressed in elegant clothes that weigh her down, she drowns in a stream filled with flowers. Girls know they are losing themselves. One girl said, 'Everything good in me died in junior high.' Wholeness is shattered by the chaos of adolescence. Girls become fragmented, their selves split into mysterious contradictions. They are sensitive and tenderhearted, mean and competitive, superficial and idealistic. They are confident in the morning and overwhelmed by anxiety by nightfall. They rush through their days with wild energy and then collapse into lethargy. They try on new roles every week – this week the good student, next week the delinquent and the next, the artist. And, they expect their families to keep up with the changes...” (Pipher, 1994, p. 20) “ What I got from that paragraph from Reviving Ophelia was that you are trying to please your parents but also the boy. You try to please cliques and fit in, but also try to please teachers and get good grades. And you find yourself literally drowning from everything you’re carrying, everything you try to put on yourselves to please everyone else, but yourself. We’re like an empty turtle shell. It’s supposed to protect us but we use it to please everyone else. So they can use it for what they like instead of what we need it to be….” EML, age 13
The first place most people look for how teenage girls feel and what they are thinking are the statistics gathered from studies done on adolescents. However, some critics argue that the differences shown in self-esteem studies for adolescents have been exaggerated. (Santrock, 2008, p. 537) Still, it's a place from which to begin...
Girls. You never know what they are going to think. ~ J. D. Salinger ~ The Catcher in the Rye , spoken by Holden Caulfield
• S even in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members • 62% of all girls feel insecure or not sure of themselves • 57% of all girls have a mother who criticizes her own looks • More than half (57%) of all girls say they don’t always tell their parents certain things about them because they don’t want them to think badly of them • The top wish among all girls is for their parents to communicate better with them, which includes more frequent and open conversations about what is happening in their own lives (Real Girls, Real Pressure, 2008)
R eality vs. Perception: Low self-esteem significantly impacts girls’ overall feelings about their own beauty • 71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up, including not feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough (compared to 29% of girls with high self-esteem) • 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem) • A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight, than how much she actually weighs (Real Girls, Real Pressure, 2008)
<ul><li>Depression is more likely to occur in adolescence than in childhood and adolescent girls have higher rates of depression than adolescent boys. Reasons for this include: </li></ul><ul><li>Girls tend to ruminate in their depressed mood & amplify it. </li></ul><ul><li>Girls' self-images, especially with regard to their body images, are more negative than boys'. </li></ul><ul><li>Girls face more discrimination than males do. </li></ul><ul><li>Puberty occurs earlier in girls than in boys and, as a result, girls experience a 'piling up' of changes and life experiences in middle school years, which can increase depression. </li></ul><ul><li>(Santrock, 2008, p. 562) </li></ul>
The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one's own – even more, one's own, for that has been put in our care and we are Responsible for its well-being ~ Katherine Anne Porter ~
Girls with low self-esteem are significantly more likely to engage in negative behaviors 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking, or drinking when feeling badly about themselves (Compared to 25% of girls with high self-esteem) 61% of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves (Compared to 15% of girls with high self-esteem) 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when feeling badly about themselves (Compared to 4% of girls with high self-esteem) 25% of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves, refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up when feeling badly about themselves (Compared to 7% of girls with high self-esteem) (Real Girls, Real Pressure, 2008)
Parents’ words and actions play a pivotal role fostering positive self-esteem in girls • Girls with low self-esteem are less likely to receive praise from either parent and more likely to receive criticism than girls with high self-esteem • More than one-third (34%) of girls with low self-esteem believe that they are not a good enough daughter (Compared to 9% of girls with high self-esteem) • 93% of girls with low self-esteem want their parents to change their behavior towards them in at least one way (Compared to 73% for girls with high self-esteem) This includes: • Wishing to be understood better (Low: 60%, High: 14%) • Being listened to more (Low: 52%, High: 18%) • Spending more time with them (Low: 43%, High: 15%) (Real Girls, Real Pressure, 2008)
“ G irls and boys are generally impressionable during the adolescent period, and thus are the receptive audience to images transmitted through the media. They see in media reflections of society's attitudes and ideals often in extreme and caricatured fashion, and may arrive at their views of themselves and their values, and their relationships with the rest of the world through these images. Recent research from Canada and the United States has pointed to the negative impact mass media can have on the self-image or body image of adolescent girls. Adolescent girls compare themselves with those perfectly shaped female figures and get painfully disappointed by the obvious gap. Adolescent girls and young women often feel impelled to conform to the materialistic, consumer-driven and exploitative stereotypes.” (Enabling Environment for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, 1996)
<ul><li>R esearch evidence shows that the sexualization of girls negatively affects girls and young women across a variety of health domains: </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body , leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety. </li></ul><ul><li>Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood. </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents can play a major role in contributing to the sexualization of their daughters or can play a protective and educative role. Parents, school officials, and all health professionals need to be alert for the potential impact of sexualization on girls and young women. Schools should teach media literacy skills to all students and should include information on the negative effects of the sexualization of girls in media literacy and sex education programs. </li></ul><ul><li>As a society, we need to replace all of these sexualized images with ones showing girls in positive settings—ones that show the uniqueness and competence of girls. The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents—boys and girls—that lead to healthy sexual development. </li></ul><ul><li>(“Sexualization of Girls...”, 2007) </li></ul>
But, statistics are only part of the story... Just who do those numbers represent? And, what is else is going on?
“ F or a complex set of reasons, most of what is known about adolescent girls focuses on the problems they face. The fact that many adolescent girls are showing remarkable strength, resiliency, and "hardiness" during the stressful time of adolescence needs to be explored. Instead of focusing on the storm and stress of adolescence, a new understanding of adolescent girls that affirms their strength and resilience needs to be developed. Although the current day risks and stresses in the lives of adolescent girls must be understood, they should not be the defining factors in discussions of adolescent girls. There must be a focus on what is working for adolescent girls, and why to assist adolescent girls in navigating these risks during their development.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ ...across cultural groups, adolescent girls hold more flexible and liberal attitudes than boys about the rights and roles of women. White adolescent girls who hold traditional attitudes toward women's roles tend to have lower self-esteem than do girls who hold more liberal views. Important sources of resistance to and liberation from negative cultural messages for adolescent girls include the following: a strong ethnic identity, close connections to family, learning positive messages about oneself, trusting oneself as a source of knowledge, speaking one's mind, participation in athletics, non-traditional sex typing, feminist ideas, and assertive female role models.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ A lthough factors that protect adolescent girls from disordered eating have not been adequately researched, environments that enhance girls' self-esteem in general and body esteem specifically and that protect girls from risk factors such as physical and sexual abuse appear to increase resiliency against unhealthy eating patterns. In addition, certain cultural contexts and expectations that promote acceptance of a broad range of appearances provide support for individuality and healthy development and play an instrumental role in protecting adolescent girls from the development of eating and weight-related concerns.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ D uring the last few decades, the collective efforts of women psychologists and the feminist movement have established and legitimized the psychological study of women and girls, and have created an intellectual climate in which it is now commonplace to conceptualize gender as a social construction of enormous influence in individual psychology and female self-definition. Within these movements, however, there has been a marginalization of women of color. One third of the 18.5 million girls between the ages of 10 and 18 living in the United States are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Eskimo, or Aleut. They remain virtually invisible in the psychological literature on adolescent girl development. In examining recent research studies, the lack of data and information about the psychological development and lives in general of adolescent girls of color is of great concern. Major studies on adolescent development are flawed by the presence and absence of certain groups of girls of color, a lack of reliable data on the economic status of the households of some groups of adolescent girls of color, a failure to address the roles of race and gender, and a lack of information regarding the racial-ethnic identity of research participants. Just as the notion that males and females differ in their development toward self-definition has become accepted, professionals and others who work with adolescent girls must move toward the fuller recognition of the contribution of race, ethnicity, culture, class, and sexual orientation to development in general and to the understanding of adolescents in particular.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ T here are important interactions between race and trends in self-esteem. Black girls express high levels of self-esteem from elementary school through high school. While family and community reinforcement sustain high levels of personal importance for black girls,these girls feel strong pressure from the school system and experience a significant drop in positive feelings about their teachers and their schoolwork. Hispanic girls are much less confident and positive than black girls and go through a crisis in some ways even more profound than that of white girls. While Hispanic girls start with significantly higher levels of self-esteem than white girls, their confidence plummets in their appearance, family relationships, school ability, talents, and importance. Between elementary school and high school, their personal self-esteem drops 38 points, more than the drop for any other group of girls.” (Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, 1994, p. 7)
“ F riendships can be a source of both knowledge and strength for adolescent girls. They can also be a source of struggle, hurt, and confusion, particularly as girls move into adolescence and begin to negotiate dominant cultural views of sexual relationships, femininity, and appearance. Directly engaging adolescent girls in conversations about such issues and encouraging them to explore together how current power relations are played out in the context of their relationships with other girls and women can provide support as well as opportunities to resist social separations.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998) To find out a girl's faults, praise her to her girlfriends. ~ Benjamin Franklin ~
“ R ecent research attempts focus on understanding how adolescent girls experience their sexuality to determine effective means for empowering girls to develop responsible sexual subjectivities. Such research has generated new avenues for exploration, such as understanding if and how girls from different social and material locations negotiate the following: · Make active and safe choices about sexual behaviors and about the relationships within which they engage in these expressions of their sexuality. · Develop a sense of entitlement to their own pleasure and desire. · Identify and learn to negotiate the often unequal power distribution typical of male-female relationships. The centrality of relationships in girl's psychological development suggests the importance of relationships in girls' sexuality development, including girls' decisions about sexual behavior. Taking girls' relational contexts seriously in both research and practice demands a focus on the meanings of sexuality and sexual decisions and the processes by which girls develop their sexuality beyond their choice to have sexual intercourse.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ A dolescent girls today have access to an array of community-based youth organizations, despite the fact that there are a smaller number of these programs serving young women than young men. Many of these programs aimed at young women provide support for personal development and the development of social skills and encourage physical activity. Research findings recommend that organizations established to meet the needs of adolescent girls should practice the following: · Provide positive, caring, and consistent adult role models of both sexes. Promote high, yet realistic, expectations in skill development. · Promote the development of relationships across class, gender, race, and ethnicity. · Offer a range of experiences and topics that are of interest to girls and foster equality for girls. · Encourage community involvement. · Involve the girls in settings in which they can be themselves, speak their truths, and find their own sources of power.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ A dolescents are considered to be at a higher risk for sexual assault than any other group. Over half of these reported sexual assaults occurred in dating situations. Dating violence includes physical injuries, verbal assaults, and threats of violence in the context of a dating relationship. Dating violence has been reported to affect 10% of high school students and 22% of college students. It is believed that the incidence of date rape is underreported because most victims of date rape do not think the assault fits the definition of rape, so they do not report the rape to the police. Because of the dating situation, a girl may also feel guilt or responsibility for being in the company of the attacker and view the occurrence as normal or deserved. Other reasons girls give for not reporting date rape include fear of their parents' reactions to the rape and their peers' learning of the incident. Dating violence has serious consequences. Young women are three times more likely to report severe emotional trauma when a violent episode occurs in a dating situation. Women raped by someone they know have more severe psychological problems than women raped by a stranger. Girls and women can suffer long-term effects from date rape, including sexual dysfunction, flashbacks, a delayed stress reaction, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A young woman may also have to deal with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy, and, in some groups, the social stigma of the loss of virginity. Victims of dating violence must receive immediate intervention to counteract the traumatic effects of experiencing a breach in trust by someone they know. Counseling services at high schools and colleges should be made more widely available to these young women to minimize immediate and long-term consequences. Programs emphasizing prevention are extremely important. Teaching skills such as negotiation, interpersonal communication, anger management, problem solving, and coping strategies to girls and boys would be useful. ” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ E ach year in this country, thousands of teen girls find themselves in psychological distress associated with problems so pervasive in our society that they have come to be known as public health issues. The types of psychological problems reflecting the greatest distress among today's adolescent girls include the following: · Major adjustment and developmental problems, including personal identity and family issues, such as separation from parents and family, sexual identity issues, or concerns about one's sexual orientation and behaviors. Major psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, eating disorders and mood disorders. · Major psychosocially and culturally induced problems, including reactions to violence, drug use, and other abuse. These have psychological as well as physical health ramifications. To focus on the psychological needs and problems of adolescent girls, psychologists have developed a wide array of different treatment approaches and services that have emerged in recent years; yet, there is an urgent need for greater understanding and more effective support of girls' strengths and interventions to address their emotional distress and disorders. The complexity of the world in which today's adolescent girl lives challenges psychology to devote its best efforts on their behalf in practice and in preparation for practice.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ T hey are easily offended by a glance, a clearing of the throat, a silence, a lack of sufficient enthusiasm or a sentence that doesn't meet their immediate needs. Their voices have gone underground – their speech is more tentative and less articulate. Their moods swing widely. One week they love their world and their families, the next they are critical of everyone. Much of their behavior is unreadable. Their problems are metaphorical – eating disorders, school phobias and self-inflicted injuries. I need to ask again and again in a dozen different ways, “What are you trying to tell me?” (Pipher, 1994, p. 20)
“ E verything is changing – body shape, hormones, skin and hair. Calmness is replaced by anxiety. Their way of thinking is changing. Far below the surface they are struggling with the most basic of human questions. What is my place in the universe, what is my meaning?” (Pipher, 1994, p. 20)
“ N owhere are the messages to mothers so contradictory as with their adolescent daughters. Mothers are expected to protect their daughters from the culture even as they help them fit into it. They are to encourage their daughters to grow into adults and yet to keep them from being hurt. They are to be devoted to their daughters and yet encourage them to leave. Mothers are asked to love completely and yet know exactly when to distance emotionally and physically. Girls are encouraged to separate from their mothers and to devalue their relationship from them. They are expected to respect their mothers but not to be like them. In our culture, loving one's mother is linked with dependency, passivity and regression, while rejecting one's mother implies individuation, activity and independence.” (Pipher, 1994, p. 103)
“ W hile most girls are connected to their mothers by close if often conflicting ties, with fathers they have varied relationships. Rigid fathers limit their daughters' dreams and destroy their self-confidence... On the other hand, non-sexist fathers can be tremendously helpful in teaching their daughters healthy rebellion. They can help them understand the male point of view and the forces that act on men in this culture. Fathers can model good male-female relationships and respect for women in a wide variety of roles. ” (Pipher, 1994, p. 117)
People are like stained glass windows – the true beauty can be seen only when there is light from within. The darker the night, the brighter the windows. ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross ~
“ A dolescents who take part in community service or volunteer in political activities are more likely to continue having a strong work ethic as adults. Volunteering is also related to overall positive academic, psychological, and occupational outcomes. These positive findings are highlighted in the following statistics: Volunteer rates among young people 15–25 years old are generally higher than they are among adults 26 and older: 40 percent of young people reported past-year volunteer activity. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of high school seniors volunteered during the previous year. Rates for 8th and 10th graders are similar. Rates of regular volunteering (defined as at least once a month) increased between 1991 and 2001: from 24 to 35 percent among 12 th graders, from 27 to 29 percent among 10 th graders, and from 26 to 28 percent among 8 th graders. Volunteer activity among 12th grade students continued to increase between 2000 and 2001: the percent who reported volunteering once a month or more increased from 32 to 35 percent .” (Celebrating America's Youth, n.d.)
“ D uring the last decade, girls increasingly participated in school sports. For example, among 10th grade girls, participation in school athletics increased from 52 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2001.” (Celebrating America's Youth, n.d.)
“ G irls who stay true to themselves manage to find some way to respect the parts of them that are spiritual and protect their spirit from the forces that would break it. Can the female adolescent look within to find a core of true self, acknowledge unique gifts, accept her feelings, and make firm decisions about values, meaning, and spirituality? Helping adolescent girls find and make meaning in their lives and encouraging girls to know themselves can help them access the spiritual dimension in their lives. Many of today's teenagers in the United States suffer from a sense of emptiness inside, a sense of meaninglessness that comes when social and religious traditions no longer provide a sense of meaning, continuity, or participation in a larger whole. Teenagers experience a void of spiritual guidance and opportunity in their lives during adolescence. This void contributes to high-risk behaviors, which can be both a search for connection, transcendence, meaning, and initiation as well as an escape from the pain of not having a genuine source of spiritual fulfillment and meaning. Adolescent girls may have a harder time finding equilibrium because of the desire for approval from relationships that are important to them and because of the pressure put on young girls in our culture to be something other than authentic. Often, societal roadblocks impede the adolescent girl from blossoming into her true self. Adolescence is an intense time of change, where many battles for the self are won and lost. Girls who stay true to themselves manage to find some way to respect the parts of them that are spiritual and protect their spirit from the forces that would break it. One of the ways school counselors can help girls enhance their spirituality and find their truth is to help them develop techniques to protect their own spirit.” (Bruce and Cockreham, 2004)
Setting personal boundaries “ P ersonal boundaries are limits we use to protect ourselves, and they are formed by having good self-understanding and clear personal values. An important part of respecting yourself and other people is understanding and honoring these boundaries. Each relationship has its own set of boundaries to be respected. Boundaries can include respecting a teen's personal privacy, respecting her friend's rights to have other relationships, and being able to say 'no' to any request that makes her uncomfortable. Part of having boundaries is understanding one another's values. This ensures that each person remains an individual in the relationship and is not changing what they believe based on the other person's desires, wishes, or needs. Clear boundaries help insure that a teenager is respecting her body and that her partner will respect her values.” (Boundaries within a healthy relationship, 2008) Teens, and all children, learn how to set boundaries from their parents and other adults in their lives. Learning to set one's own boundaries and to respect those set by others is a life lesson of incalculable value, because it teaches teens that they are worthy of setting and keeping boundaries for themselves.
<ul><li>How Schools Set Girls Up to Fai l </li></ul><ul><li>“ S chools transmit gender bias in the thousand and one signals they send girls and boys about what’s expected of them. These expectations determine how girls and boys are treated, how they’re taught, and ultimately how they’re tracked onto different paths through their schooling and into their careers. In dozens of separate studies, researchers have found that girls receive less attention, less praise, less effective feedback, and less detailed instruction from teachers than do boys. Research by Myra and David Sadker, professors of education at American University, reveals: </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers typically initiate more communication with boys than with girls in the classroom, strengthening boys’ sense of importance. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers tend to ask boys more complex, abstract, and open-ended questions, providing better opportunities for active learning. </li></ul><ul><li>In class projects and assignments, teachers are more likely to give detailed instructions to boys, and more likely to take over and finish the task for girls, </li></ul><ul><li>depriving them of active learning. Teachers tend to praise boys more often than girls for the intellectual content and quality of their work. They praise girls more often for neatness and form. </li></ul><ul><li>When boys perform poorly, teachers often blame failure on lack of effort. Girls receive a different message; the implication is that effort would not improve their results. </li></ul><ul><li>All too often, teachers and counselors track girls away from courses of study that lead to high-skilled, high-paying, high-technology careers. </li></ul><ul><li>Of additional concern is how well prevalent teaching methods satisfy the individual learning styles of girls and boys. Some children, including many girls, learn better in cooperative settings. Competitive learning, favored in most classrooms, is a style that often puts girls at a disadvantage.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Shortchanging Girls , Shortchanging America, 1994, p. 14-15) </li></ul>
“ A 1992 study by the American Association of University of Women suggests that "instructional practices, with teachers aware of such factors as the level of girls' participation, teacher expectations concerning girls' abilities and achievement, girls' self-concept, and long-established gender stereotypes, can have a positive impact on girls' performance in the classroom". Teaching materials and study kits can also be revised to communicate gender-sensitive messages and girls' equal status with boys.” (Enabling Environments for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, 1996) It's more important to teach a child how to think than what to think...
“ ...teachers are spearheading an effort to bring needed change to the classroom. Increasingly, committed teachers are scrutinizing their teaching styles and classroom behaviors for the hidden messages they convey. The concept has gained so much credence that training on gender issues has been incorporated into some professional development courses for teachers. Parents, activists, and community leaders have gotten in the act, too. Following the suggestions of the American Association of University Women, parents are contacting the Title IX coordinators in their school districts to assess Title IX compliance in local schools. (Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational institutions.) Parents are also working with teachers and students to draft sexual harassment policies in schools. Through coalitions with local businesses and community groups, parents and activists are exploring new programs to enhance girls’ self-esteem. It’s time to commit ourselves to a school system and a society that encourage girls to attain their full potential.” (Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, 1994, p. 15)
So, what are today's adolescent girls really thinking about right now?
<ul><li>For this presentation, adolescent girls </li></ul><ul><li>ranging in age from 13 to 16 </li></ul><ul><li>were surveyed using an anonymous questionnaire. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the girls feel their families and friends help them shape their views of the world and themselves, rather than television or videos. </li></ul><ul><li>Half of the girls are satisfied with the way their bodies look. </li></ul><ul><li>All but one said their mothers help them when they have a problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Most prefer being with friends to being alone and most keep a journal or diary. </li></ul><ul><li>More than half keep things to themselves because they feel no one will understand them. </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all said they are confident about their future </li></ul><ul><li>All of them indicated they are going on to college. </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all the girls said they would break up with a boy if he did not treat them with respect. </li></ul><ul><li>And, almost all of them said that if they were hurting, frightened or worried, they have someone to confide in and that if they needed help they know where to find it. </li></ul><ul><li>Following are some of their answers in their own words... </li></ul>
How do they define beauty? Perfection... A great personality... Not just looking good but being a good person... What someone is like and how they treat others... Good looks, a great body, and a great personality... Likes themselves for them and acts how they really are, not caring what others say, smart, beautiful, love them for themselves… Beauty is on the inside. I think being yourself is the best thing you could possibly do… Beauty from within that naturally shines out…
When they look in the mirror, they see: A blob... A window that I try to perfect... A cover over what’s really there, in me… Someone who looks like me but who isn’t truthfully me, just an image… An ugly girl who is worthless and that guys don’t want to waste their time with… On some days, a beautiful and brilliant girl, on my bad days a moronic, zitty, low-self-esteemed version of me… A young lady who is full of ideas and spunk… Me… A girl who doesn’t try very hard…
What do they admire about themselves? Persistence... Sense of humor... Always stand up for my friends... My personality and style... My mind! My ability to love passionately... My writing skills, my sense of humor, my intelligence, my athleticism, and my artisticness... My ideas about life… My brains… That I am fun and kind… The ability to see past looks and my independence…
What do they hate about themselves? My loneliness… I always seem to get pulled into major drama and when I feel like I need to say or do something but I’m afraid of how other people will see it… My pimples… How I second-guess myself constantly… Biting my nails… My body… My sensitivity… That I sometimes say the wrong thing and that I’m disorganized… My quietness…
What do they fight about with their mothers? Their liberty as a teen Boys Cleaning my room Grades My siblings Schoolwork My lack of organization Chores Clothes Not having a plan
What do they love about with their mothers? She is persistent and fights for what she wants... Her intelligence... She’s very funny... She’s prepared for everything and listens to me... She’s my best friend... Everything, except that she takes my siblings’ side on everything... That she supports me... She is honest... She is special, kind and fun... Her caring and loving nature...
But, given the images of women and teenage girls on television, in videos, and in magazines...
Maya Angelou? Hilary Clinton? Mia Hamm? Lindsey Lohan? Paris Hilton? Bethany Joy Lenz? Emmy Lou Harris? Who is the role model for today's teen girls? Lydia Cacho? Angelina Jolie Condoleezza Rice? Angelina Jolie?
<ul><li>They said their role models are : </li></ul><ul><li>My mom because she is so sure of herself. </li></ul><ul><li>My friend because she’s awesome </li></ul><ul><li>My best friend because she is very considerate and funny too. </li></ul><ul><li>My friend because she can always tell when you need to talk and is always there for her friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Alice Paul because she was strong and didn’t give up no matter what anyone said or did. She stood up for what she believed in and won women the right to vote. </li></ul><ul><li>Miley Cyrus because she is herself… </li></ul><ul><li>My mom because she is a great, uplifting person. </li></ul><ul><li>My mom because she has been through all this before and knows what to do. </li></ul><ul><li>My older sister because she made mistakes but learned and she is honest, she lives on her own and she has her dream job </li></ul><ul><li>My mom because she is very understanding and confident. </li></ul>
<ul><li>What do they think adults care more about? </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about our future than our feelings. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about your future and your mind than your looks. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about their family than their work. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about their children than other stuff like money. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about money than pets and sometimes even family or friends. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about how to control someone than how to let kids be treated like they are human beings. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about my personality and attitude and future than my looks, quietness, and my friends. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about everyone as a whole than individually. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about getting respect than giving it. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about making assumptions than listening to how we really feel and think. </li></ul><ul><li>They care more about my thoughts and feelings than materialistic items. </li></ul>
What is one thing they would change about our world today? Money Global warming Pollution Suicides Murder Starvation Equality for everyone The economy Unemployment Women to have equal rights Hatred War Drugs Cutting
<ul><li>What they want the world to know about today's teen girls? </li></ul><ul><li>To watch us closely because we cannot be trusted… </li></ul><ul><li>We’re sensitive and keep more in than most people would think, a lot of girls curl up in a ball at night and sob but to everyone else they’re perfectly happy… </li></ul><ul><li>I am a person with points of view, an education and can think for myself… </li></ul><ul><li>That most of us are insecure and that the ones who are happy for who they are will have a better life… </li></ul><ul><li>That we’re not as focused on looks and appearance as people think… </li></ul><ul><li>They are more confident than they look. Some don’t have a good life so they sell themselves out… </li></ul><ul><li>That we are special, we have feelings too, we are unique and beautiful, everyone of us, we don’t like being lied to, we don’t like being treated like emo, suicidal, alcoholic junkies, we deserve respect, we are perfect the way we are, and we are not an accident or a mistake… </li></ul><ul><li>They are easily influenced and sensitive and need someone to stick with them through thick and thin… </li></ul><ul><li>That not all of us are bad and thinking they are is stereotyping. That we are special and its what’s on the inside that counts… </li></ul>
One set of questions stood out among the others.. . Of all the girls surveyed, none of the thirteen year olds indicated that they had ever made themselves throw up to control their weight, kept themselves from eating to control their weight, tried drugs/alcohol one or more times, or had considered hurting themselves at least once. All of the sixteen year olds had. So, what happens between age 13 and 16 to change this? What makes them turn their anger, frustration, fear, and uncertainty inward? And, what can we do, knowing this, to keep this from happening? It seems pretty clear that we have to begin much earlier. We have to show girls, and boys, that they are special, unique, and worthy just as they are. When encouraging them to be all they can be, we must remember to acknowledge who they already are. We must accept all versions of beauty, all forms of creativity, and encourage self-expression and growth in the directions they need to go...
“ Shut up and listen. I’m as a ghost in a vacant shell. I’m held too tight with a chain and ball. I can’t concentrate when the spotlights always on me. I’m too big to fit in the tiny square of perfection or size one jeans. I’m too old to be adorable. Too young to be wise. I’m in between booties and high heels. So when I wander out of my shell to be unique and a tiny bit funky I wind up being wrong! Pay attention! Shut Up and Listen! Try to follow what I say. Don’t expect me to be your average girl. Don’t expect the girl next to me to be average, either. I am not a thing to be controlled and you can’t train me like a dog or cage me. I think as I think and every time I take at least one stride forward, you wind up telling me to turn around and do it again. Whenever I try a new move I wind up on the floor as people laugh. Look at me, not what you see! I might be covered in tattoos, piercings, clothes you find odd, but beneath it all I’m human too. I’ve got flesh and bones that hide a broken heart. It’s like you don’t know, or care. It’s like you were never my age. Or you only look on the surface and see a pimply teenager.” ~ EML. Age 13 Image from Mulan , Disney Studios
“ Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I – I hardly know, Sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I must have changed several times since then...” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
“ F ortunately, adolescence is time-limited. By late high-school most girls are stronger and the winds are dying down. Some of the worst problems – cliques, a total focus on looks and struggles with parents – are on the wane. But the way girls handle the problems of adolescence can have implications for their adult lives. Without some help, the loss of wholeness, self-confidence and self-direction can last well into adulthood. Many adults struggle with the same issues that overwhelmed them as adolescent girls.” (Pipher, 1994, p. 25)
“ D aughters can learn to recognize the forces that shape them and make conscious choices about what they will and won't endure. They need 'awakening therapy,' which is another term for consciousness-raising. This therapy helps girls become whole adults in a culture that encourages them to forever be the object of another's gaze. It means teaching a new form of self-defense.” (Pipher, 1994, p. 253)
“ H istorically, American society has generally lacked an appreciation or respect for female development. With dramatic social, economic, and technological changes reshaping the world, adolescents shape an unknown future replete with possibilities for improvement. Any view of the future world of today's adolescent girls must be a realistic yet hopeful one, not necessarily idealistic. The social, economic, and technological changes reshaping the world offer great possibilities for improvement. In the past and present, adolescent girls have learned that their needs for closeness and relatedness conflict with the competitive attitudes that drive success, yet they are expected to achieve in this society, in effect, being forced to choose between being true to themselves or realizing their goals. The increasing political interest for adolescent girls is a positive sign for the future. The advent of women into politics is a step that can improve their situation, and encouragement to do this must take place at the formative adolescent level.” (A New Look at Adolescent Girls, 1998)
“ T he challenge is clear for all of us— parents and educators as well as leaders in business, government, and the media. Now is the time to think, speak out, and take action to help American girls be the best they can be. For when we shortchange girls, we shortchange America.” (Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America, 1994, p. 17)