Girls, Strive for Progress, Not Perfection

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 many pre-teen and teenage girls. And, if you assume this thought process just starts in the tween years, think again. Girls as young as six years old are in the mind-set that they're not good enough or pretty enough. It's the thought process of who's going to like me or 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 long 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 their thinking at all. What seems to make it 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 butt small and round enough? Being a good girl, the perfect girl, the one who's nice to everybody, and the girl who hardly makes mistakes, or that girl who only speaks up when spoken to - 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 help them accentuate the capable, beautiful, valuable qualities about them when they need to feel it and believe it themselves? Maybe if they started with small steps to see how imperfect others are around them. You know, the perfect girl who your daughter told you about? The one in her math class with the perfect legs, the perfect hair, and the perfect teeth. Yah well, as pretty perfect as that girl comes across, we all know she doesn't have the perfect life. We know nothing about her. That pretty perfect girl who you think has it all might actually tear herself apart each and every day, and not want to get out of bed. And, she probably thinks the same things that every other teenage girl thinks about. She most likely compares herself to every other girl.

So, let's tell our daughters to strive for progress and not perfection. Let's give them the affirmations to look at themselves as beautiful ENOUGH, as worthy ENOUGH, as strong ENOUGH, as good ENOUGH. And let ENOUGH be imperfectly perfect.

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