Young Adult

Girl Power Day 3: Feminine Problems

Admit it: you loved Mean Girls. You still quote it, shouting “You go Glen Coco!” when someone does something good, or saying that things are so fetch (which is never going to happen).

As females we’re faced with a lot of er… let’s say “negative images” in today’s (and really all day’s) pop-culture. Women are catty and back-stabbing. Women can’t work as teams and can’t be organized as a whole because they’re women. We use “feminine wiles” to get what we want, flaunting our sexuality to find a man (well, that’s really just nature, but that’s another class), and tricking men into things we want them to do. Women are competitive, gossipy and wow… I really hate women if this is what we’re like!

But we’re not! No, no, no… we’re not. So why do we act like this? Why do we feed into these stereotypes that are detrimental to women as a sex and allow programs, movies, TV, etc. to continue to detriment us?

Today’s post is all about feminine problems – those that keep us from moving forward as confident, beautiful, self-aware individuals – that we all face at some point in our lives. Now, these are just things that I think are problems and are not really founded by anything other than my own opinion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these few things and whether you agree or disagree!

Bad Body Image

A while back I posted a discussion post that seemed to get a lot of feedback about body image. It was inspired by Siobhan Vivian’s book “The List” and I talked about 2 of the characters that stuck out to me, Danielle and Bridget. Both dealt with body image issues and both reacted differently towards them. One thing I think that holds us back is hating the way we look. We’re too fat, too thin, to tall, too short… we hate our hair, our eyes, our noses, our feet… Even the most seemingly confident woman probably goes home and hates all over her body. But why?!

I asked my good friend Sheena, who is a Registered Dietician, for a little help with this part. Her patients are primarily college aged, but she also sees high school aged patients as well. As part of her job she has done many different programs that help to promote healthy body images as well as eating habits.

What are common body image issues you see from your patients?

The most common body image issues I see from my patients is that they feel inadequate in their bodies. The often look at themselves in the mirror and automatically believe they aren’t worthy to go out in public, often times after comparing themselves with who they know they are about to socialize with. I’ve even had patients that have told me they would feel better if they were offered a modeling contract, got asked out by numerous people, or were just reminded every day how drop dead gorgeous they are. Many of the patients I see describe themselves as thinking of food 90% of their day, whether it’s what they’re going to eat, what they’re not going to eat, how can they burn off what they just ate, how can they avoid the social situation that includes eating, etc.

What advice do you give to your patients to overcome their body image issues and/or eating disorders?

I try to remind my patients that their identity and self-worth aren’t defined by a number on the scale but who they are on the inside. I try to focus on the health consequences of unhealthy eating behaviors and remind them once again that unlike mechanical, inanimate objects, our body is something that cannot be replaced. Encouraging my girls to remember the positive things that their body does for them including “I love my body because my legs allow me to walk freely on campus”, “I love my body because it allows me to hear beautiful music”, etc.

Positive body image is HUGE to me, mostly because I deal with that every day, and feel that we all need to accept who we are and learn to love that person.

The “B” Word

Once upon a time, calling a female a “bitch,” “slut,” “skank,” and “whore” was NOT cute. It was not how you referred to your best girl friends. So why is it that today we use them as freely as we use any other term of endearment?

I’ll admit, I have fallen victim to the “b” word and called friends these terms in place of a term of endearment, so I can’t say a whole lot. But I will say this: when we make these terms okay and use them freely among ourselves however we want, we open the doors for others to use them however they want. We make it okay for others to call us a “bitch” which, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think sounds to appealing. I personally don’t like to be called a bitch.

Glorifying the Negative

One of my least favorite (i.e. most hated) things is reality television. I’m not talking about the contest shows, or even the “how-it’s-made” shows – I’m talking about the ones that glorify negative images. The first thing that comes to mind is obviously all the teen pregnancy shows. Sure, they’re probably meant as a warning to young girls who have sex, but these girls have become insta-celebrities. Why? BECAUSE THEY GOT KNOCKED UP AT FIFTEEN!

Whew, okay, cooling down…

My point is, we as a society glorify negative female stereotypes instead of pushing the positive ones. We create shows that pit women against each other, encouraging them to cat-fight it out; we celebritize girls who get pregnant at young ages; we pour millions of dollars into companies that exploit young non-porn star women for the pleasure of others.

While I know shows like “I chose to go to college and NOT slut it up!” or “I waited until I was stable/married/an adult to have kids!” wouldn’t be that popular, maybe it’s high time they were. Or maybe we should stop making celebrities out of people who royally f-ed up. Just saying.

So in conclusion…

Real life is not perfect nor are we as humans. I initially brought up Mean Girls for a reason, not so I could weasel the word “fetch” into this post, but because I think it’s a good example of how we, as females, DO act towards other females and also how we SHOULD NOT act towards other females.

When we torment, exclude, make fun of, or repel other females, we decrease our amount of girl power. When we let the media, celebrities, the head cheerleader, whoever make us feel less than what we are, less girl powerful – whether that’s through having a bad body image, thinking we are a bitch or a slut, or that it’s okay to exploit ourselves and our bodies – we hurt ourselves. We hurt our present, our future, and our past.

So today I’m challenging you with this: start working on breaking away from these feminine problems. Stop supporting ideas that make our daughters feel like they’re “too fat” or “not pretty enough.” Stop buying into the “b” word as being okay. Turn off shows that glorify negative ideas.

Turn the energy you would have spent doing these things into something positive, like complementing someone you might have insulted (and mean it). We have to stick together ladies and set a positive foundation for our future generations AND ourselves.

5 thoughts on “Girl Power Day 3: Feminine Problems”

  1. Oh my gosh, I so agree with you. I think I have mentioned before how frustrated I get when I hear/see people talk about how girls are all catty, and that they can’t have best friends and all that. It really infuriates me, and I tend to be really sensitive to it in books/movies. It will often change how I feel about a book/movie for the negative, even if it is a small part of the whole story.

    I want to see girls supporting each other, because of course girls can do that. It shouldn’t be a shocker, either. I also get really frustrated when I hear teachers/librarians say that it is always the girls who are trouble. Trust me, I have had to talk to guys just as much as girls about behaving properly.

    I also hate when people say that daughters are so much more work that sons. Another negative image about girls, starting at birth! Grr.

    But talking about this, and addressing this is the way to stop it as much as we can. 🙂

    Loving this girl power posts.

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  2. This is a fabulous post. I completely agree with you. You know what is so disturbing to me? The how early young girls are sexualized. For example, I took my girls (who are 11 and almost 7) to shop for Halloween costumes this week and was appalled at the Tween section. It was Skank City. I’m not joking. My kids are, of course, not allowed to wear anything remotely provocative because, hello, why would any concerned parent want their child to dress that way? But I have to assume that there must be a market out there for sexy tween costumes. It’s completely disturbing. In the end, my girls went with Merida from Brave (the costume every little girl will probably have) and a Candy Corn Witch. I’m grateful that thus far my eleven year-old is pretty conservative, but I wonder at what point she’ll see that as she grows it’s unfortunately not the norm. On another note, did you ever read Bumped by Megan McCafferty? She pokes so much fun at our society and how we glorify teen pregnancy under the guise of saying it’s to warn kids about the dangers of it. It’s an interesting, satirical book (not for the faint of heart. She makes fun of EVERYONE) that’s a dystopian set in a world where adults can’t have kids so teens make deals and celeb endorsements to “bump” and have babies for the adults. And the kids are dying to do it!

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  3. I think I am going to show this to some of my fellow teachers and definitely to some of my students. This was awesome! All (amazing) Mean Girl references aside this is something we all struggle with daily. I am constantly asking my students to “choose a different” word whether they are joking or not when they use phrases like “You skank!!” and so on. I understand they don’t realize the impact it is making but I feel like it’s ignorance to assume or feel slighted when someone else uses that term toward them. Treat others how you wish to be treated. Have some respect!

    Side note – I LOLed at :We use “feminine wiles” to get what we want, flaunting our sexuality to find a man (well, that’s really just nature, but that’s another class)

    HECK YEAH I DO!! Oops.

    Just kidding…..

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    1. Thanks! I’m glad you got something out of this and hope you do share! I’m really bad about falling into the “b” word category, but have seen the impact it’s had on younger girls. 13 yos should not be calling each other skank or slut! Anyway… Glad you enjoyed and that you laughed at my “feminine wiles” part! 🙂

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