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Is Disney Succumbing to Girly Thoughts?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

author of
The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI 2013), and

The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

(forthcoming October 2014, HCI)

Disney is an iconic producer of many of the stories that make up the stuff of childhood. But have you ever stopped to consider the impact those gorgeous, svelte princesses have on the developing attitudes of young girls?

Whether you’re of the generation that embraced old-school princesses like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, or the more recent generation that fell in love with Jasmine (in Aladdin) and Ariel (in The Little Mermaid), you likely received the message loud and clear that thin is beautiful.

In signaling out this Disney example, I am in no way disparaging everything the company does.

Yes, there was perhaps a professional artistic team that should be congratulated for portraying Ursula the Witch in The Little Mermaid as a size 24, as she went against the prevailing notion that only ultra-thin female characters could be depicted. But now this witch has been literally “down-sized,” and she looks like a fashion model. This reimagining forces us to consider the perhaps unintended consequences of always portraying female characters as ultra thin.

Being heavy is supposed to be unhealthy. But . . . maybe not always.

Is Heavy Always Bad?

We know we have lots of heavy girls of every age. We have heard that being heavy carries with it other health concerns. Some of you may have experienced this firsthand.

But there are some big women in the world who are healthy, and there are many little girls in the world who are heavier in pre-puberty than they are going to be post-puberty after they have their growth spurts. So maybe being heavy isn’t always bad.

But hating yourself for being heavy is definitely always not good.

Disney on a Diet

This is where the con of Disney changing one of the few role models for young girls who are not super thin comes in. There are few example of “leading ladies”—even those of the villain variety—who are plus-sized.

I invite you to watch the following video that provides another take on being heavy and the joy of actually accepting yourself, all in graphic detail.

Heavy and sexy—yes!

More Fuel For Girly Thoughts

Yes, girly thoughts, those messages you receive that tell you your worth is tied to how close you can come to an ever-more-elusive digitized ideal.

This message was not lost on the eleven-year-old I just saw clinically, who is purging herself after eating pizza and French fries. And she takes her weight issue one step further: She hates herself for being heavy.

“All my friends are thin. What’s wrong with me?” she asks.

I could have reminded her that she hasn’t yet reach puberty, and that when she does, she will probably become taller and thinner (as her pediatrician who referred her to me shared with her and her family), but that isn’t the essential message that is getting her stuck.

The Power of Girly Thoughts

She got the message, all right: She is less deserving as a human being if she is heavy. And who can blame her for feeling this way? Like the rest of us, she is constantly bombarded with reinforcement in media—even in sweet Disney movies—that only thin girls are desirable.

Remember:

  • If you feel you need to hate yourself to be thin, it’s not worth it.
  • Since you may be triggered to eat by the thought that you need to be thin, consider getting rid of the girly thought that says “I need to be thin to be desirable.” Doing this will actually help you lose weight.
  • Self-love: that’s what this is all about. How about loving the person in your body, instead of buying into being judged because of your body? See what projecting this self-love does to your self-image. It may just be contagious.

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

“Don’t Be So Bossy!”—Have You Internalized Early Girly Thoughts?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI 2013), and

The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date, October 2014, HCI)

As a young girl, you received many messages about who you were and how you should act. Some of these messages may have been very subtle, such as the looks you received when you reached for an extra piece of cake. Those glares told you loud and clear that you were not doing what was correct. You probably paid attention and put it back, just like the good girl you were raised to be.

Early Rejection

But you received other messages, too: messages that told to you very directly, with great authority and perhaps even with anger, how offensive your behavior was.

These comments and directions, and the tone of voice with which they were delivered, resulted in you feeling terrible about yourself, and not (at least in the beginning) knowing why.

You concluded that you were the problem because you were acting in a way that was totally not acceptable . . . even if you were not sure of what acceptable was.

As a result, you felt ashamed, and you closed down your spirit because you couldn’t face rejection. This may have proved to be a faithful decision that would affect you not only in childhood but also later in life.

But all you wanted was to be helpful

What caused you to act in such a totally not acceptable way? You were probably just trying to be helpful! Think back; do any of these describe you?

  • You saw someone about to do something that could be a problem, so you told them to stop.
  • You saw a better way to do something, so you shared it in a way that young children do, by being very direct.
  • You took charge! You said what you thought!

And then you were told you were bossy

Bossy, yes, and that’s bad if you are a girl. Now, if you’d been a boy, those around you would have said: Look at him, he’s a little general. He’s a leader. He likes to take charge, isn’t that sweet?

Those are all admirable qualities in a little boy, but in a little girl . . . they are not. As a result, instead of your great ideas and clear direction being supported and nurtured, you are rejected and told clearly to STOP.

This is where girly thoughts are born

Our girly thoughts begin with acknowledging the truth in the negative messages that surround us, but we take it one step further: We believe these messages. We internalize them. We monitor ourselves to ensure our acceptability by letting our girly thoughts, our toxic self-talk, guide us. And we shut our powerful selves down. We try not to be offensive in any way. We certainly try not to be bossy.

To remember how this happened to you, watch this sort, powerful video.

What to do? Become aware of your girly thoughts!

  • Begin to notice how you treat yourself with less respect than you deserve, or when you speak to yourself in a way you would not speak to a friend—these are your girly thoughts in action, berating you for something because it may not be acceptable.
  • Ask yourself: What do my girly thoughts try to keep me from saying? What do they try to keep me from doing?
  • Consider what will happen if you ignore these negative, internalized messages. What price do you fear you will pay for not listening to your girly thoughts?
  • Support www.banbossy.com, along with Sheryl Sandberg, Condoleezza Rice, Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, and hundreds of other men and women who want to rid the world of this negative word.

Remember: Girly thoughts are learned behavior. What you learned one way, you can learn another! Take control of your own thinking and get rid of those girly thoughts. Now that is tapping into your personal power!

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

A Valentine’s Gift for You

“How do you spell ‘love’?” –Piglet

“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” –Pooh

A.A. Milne, “Winnie The Pooh”

You were raised on tales of Prince Charming coming to your rescue and thereby proving his undying love. You’ve seen numerous movies and read many books where strong, feisty women are nevertheless in need of rescuing by the men of their dreams.

While you may no longer be reading fairy tales, you may unconsciously still be living by the messages they taught, messages that are part of the fabric of your girly thoughts, those that tell you your self-worth depends largely on how someone else values you, even loves you.

Valentine’s Day—A Day That Proves Your . . . Self-Worth?

Perhaps on no other day do these messages play out as they do on Valentine’s Day . . . the day your “prince” will prove your genuine lovability.

As a result, you are probably putting a great deal of importance on this one day.

We pressure our partners to use traditional tokens of love and appreciation— cards, flowers, chocolates, perhaps even Champagne—to demonstrate our importance in their lives and prove their devotion to us. If they fail in some way, we are tempted to feel diminished, less important, and—sadly—unloved or unlovable.

As a Result, You Feel Held Hostage

You put pressure on yourself to be seen and rewarded, signifying that all the sacrifices you made were “worth it.” And if you are not rewarded as you feel you should be, your girly thoughts tell you the fault lies within you, and you must try harder, do more. Or your girly thoughts tell you you’re not loveable because you are too old, not exciting, too fat or too thin, and the inner monologue about your real or imagined negative qualities goes on . . . and on . . . and on.

In this way, Valentine’s Day holds you hostage, creating anxiety and uncertainty, draining you of your power as you unwittingly give it over to another person.

This is the exact opposite of what you’d hoped for.

Does Waiting to Be Loved Work for You?

If waiting to be loved actually makes you anxious and miserable, I suggest an alternative:

Why not (also) love yourself?

This isn’t meant to subtract from your loved one’s importance in your life, merely to balance it by also caring for and cherishing yourself.

Yes, you can still be appreciative of the gifts from your partner, boyfriend, or husband, but you also give yourself something perhaps even more important . . . self-love and self-appreciation!

Appreciate Yourself on Valentine’s Day

You may be planning a romantic dinner with your boyfriend. If you have children, you may be putting valentines in their lunch boxes. Perhaps you’ll be posting a Valentine’s Day message on Facebook for your friends and family.

But what about you? What can you give yourself on this day of love?

Make Yourself a Priority

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  • Plan what you are going to wear on Valentine’s Day in a leisurely way Instead of just focusing on what you will be making for dinner, think about yourself. Ask yourself: What looks good on me? Which outfit makes me feel good about myself? What do I feel comfortable wearing?
  • As you wear your favorite clothes on Valentine’s Day, tell yourself: I look good!
  • Write down two things you really like about yourself. You don’t have to display that list, but put it somewhere you’ll see it—and say those words out loud each time you do
  • Think of ways you can act on those qualities and get others to also see them. For example, if you like your voice, sing in your car, sing at work, or entertain your partner. If you feel you are a valuable part of your work team and have something important to say in a meeting, lean in and say it. 
  • Give yourself  “attagirls” throughout the day for stepping out of your comfort zone and into your power.
  • Tell yourself . . . I love you.

Now you’re creating a day full of love . . .

Remember—as Winnie the Pooh says…you don’t need to spell love, you just need to feel it, within yourself.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

- See more at: http://thepowerfulwoman.net/#sthash.M9yM2fm8.dpuf

Don’t Let Your Girly Thoughts Affect Your Caregiving

I am so excited to share this blog post about how girly thoughts affect caregiving. Dr. Teena Cahill, who speaks and writes on caregiving, women, and leadership, is a friend, colleague, and an endorser of The Resilient Woman, and I’m thrilled to welcome her to The Powerful Woman. Read this all the way through; the last line is funny because it is so true. And please remember to share your thoughts on how your girly thoughts affect your caregiving.

By Teena Cahill, PsyD

author of:  The Cahill Factor: Turning Adversity Into Advantage

I’ve been a caregiver to my husband for more than twenty-one years. He is a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and great guy . . . who has many challenges, both physically and cognitively. Over the past few years, I thought I was handling the increasing stress just fine, but recently with the help of Dr. O’Gorman’s great insights about how girly thoughts hinder resilient living, I had an epiphany.

As women, we do all kinds of caregiving . . . kids, husbands, communities, and now the world! But I never made the link between girly thoughts and caregiving until I read The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power. Girly thoughts tell us we must be good at all things—perfect, in fact–and that we must always put others ahead of ourselves or . . . we are not nice people! This thinking can really “take down” a caregiver.

Isolation and depression are two of the biggest risks for caregivers . . . and these girly thoughts can lead us to thinking we must do it all and not ask for help.

Caregiver or Care-Partner?

So, in fighting my girly thoughts, I’ve decided to stop being a caregiver and become a care-partner instead! Just as we ask our kids to take responsibility for their behavior, I asked my husband to think of us as care partners and respond to me with care in ways that are within his ability.

I asked him to make eye contact, to smile, laugh, and, although he has limited energy, to use some of it to reach out be the first to connect with me as I do with him. In fact, as soon as I became aware of my girly thoughts and changed my title from caregiver to care-partner, I felt less alone.

Words matter. Now I have turned my eyesto the world, and I often ask others if I can be on their partner team and they on mine. Suddenly the isolation is lessened both inside and outside my home.

I’ve come to realize that as both women and caregivers, we must challenge our girly thoughts throughout the many decades of life. But on the positive side . . . it’s fun to be in my sixth decade and still working those early girly thoughts years!

Now, if I could just get rid of the wrinkles and those extra pounds! Oops, “Grandma Girly Thoughts” at work!!!

For more information on Dr. Cahill’s, work go to:

wisdomandbeyond

www.teenacahill.com

Interview with Holly Stephey – Blog Talk Radio – 1/31/14

More Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Red Velvet Media on BlogTalkRadio

New Years Resolution #1 – Lose Weight? How’s it Going?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

You’re almost one month into the New Year.  Time to tweak your New Year’s Resolutions, and get real.  If you’re like so many other women your number one new behavior for the New Year is losing weight.  So, time to ask yourself — how’s it going?

If your answer is – not so well—if you’re already feeling like giving up, if you’re now again angry at your body, then it’s time to re-think how you are trying to accomplished your goal.

Consider this –instead of concentrating on the newest diet craze, think about an alternate approach—rather focusing on losing weight, how about directing your energy to what increases your stress and causes you to want to eat yourself into oblivion?  How about losing your girly thoughts?

Want to know more?  Read my latest blog in Aging Abundantly…. And let me know how this radical approach, that is actually nice to you, is working for you.

http://agingabundantly.com/2014/01/20/still-time-to-re-think-your-new-years-resolutions/

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

Setting Examples for our Daughters: What Mothers teach their Daughters about Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girly Thoughts…Embrace Your Strength workbook (coming April 2014 from HCI Books)

We say one picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then one video must be worth many more.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I encourage you to watch the video below (sent to me by a reader) of a participant at the Barnard College poetry slam. In it, a young woman speaks to what she sees in her mother that both concerns and infuriates her. She expresses her pain about how the intergenerational messages she has internalized hurt both her and her mother.

Those of us who are mothers may believe that our daughters just follow our directives and do not see the context, do not see our actions or those of our mothers (their grandmothers). We think they do not see the price we pay for following the culturally directed girly thoughts that tell us how to act and how to think, and that promise rejection if we stray from acting in this narrow cultural band.

Think again.

Learning to Take Up Less Space

The poet in this video speaks to how generations of women in her family have been groomed and coached to take up less and less space. “I have been taught accommodation,” she says.

She speaks to being concerned that her mother sneaks downstairs at midnight to secretly eat food to which she does not feel entitled. She talks about how her mother masks her pain with lips coated with wine.

Yes, women have been coached for generations to be smaller, to “wane” as their husbands ‘wax’; coached to be the “woman behind the man,” to be important, yes, but invisible and unrecognized.

But our daughters will break this cycle, won’t they?

“Spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits. That’s why the women in my family have been shrinking for decades,” the poet muses.

Sound familiar? Listen to Lilly and ask yourself… is this me as well?

What Can We Do to Support Our Daughters?

    • Encourage them to give voice to their concerns about us

Ask your daughter to discuss what concerns her about you. Her answers may be difficult to listen to, but it is better to have your daughter put this into words than just do what women have been trained to do, which is to internalize what they are concerned about and not speak up.

    • Listen to what our daughters are saying

Sometimes it is difficult to listen to our children, particularly when they are angry—speaking to us with raised voices, using profanity, acting in a way we feel is inappropriate, yelling to us from another room. Our children’s behavior may mask what they are saying—but what they are saying may be right on. Listen to the message; don’t just tune it out because you don’t like the delivery.

    • Change your behavior

Yes, you may need to change. Your daughter’s concerns may be well-founded.  There may very well be something there that your daughter is picking up on that you should address by changing your actions, changing your thinking, changing the messages you are sending.

Crisis Is Opportunity

As I wrote in the first step of my book, The Resilient Woman, patriciaogorman.com, crisis is opportunity. Let this “crisis” of your daughter confronting you on modeling inappropriate, ingrained behaviors and attitudes be the opportunity for you to change in a way that benefits you and frees your daughter from following your girly thoughts.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

A Precious Gift for You, for The Holidays: Connecting to YOU!

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girls Thoughts and Embrace Your Strength workbook

We all love receiving presents. They are tokens of friendship: the cookies you bake and give to neighbors; tokens of caring, such as the book of poetry you give to your boyfriend. In some ways, presents signify our worthiness, as in being the worthy recipient of gifts from others: the locket your husband gives you, the potholder made for you with love by your granddaughter, the camisole given shyly by your partner. Sometimes gifts are even necessary, such as the money you may give your children.

Gifts connect us to others

Giving and receiving gifts are ways we connect with others, from the packet of family recipes you receive from your mother to the oil change your daughter gives you for your car. Gifts connect us to each other by saying, “I know you; we belong together; I care; I see what you need; your needs are important to me; you are valued.” And we all need connection.

Gifts are fun

Not to mention that gifts are fun—the festive, maybe even inventive, wrappings and bows and the thoughts behind them; the understanding that someone cares enough to think about what you may like, may need, what will make you feel special. Yes, there is an element of caring, even love, in every gift you receive.

Gifts can connect us to ourselves

And in this season of giving, hopefully you have you on your own list, giving something to yourself that you may want and may even need.

There are some things only we can give ourselves.

You may decide to make sure you receive exactly what you want and give yourself presents that are material, tangible reminders that you do care for yourself, that you value yourself, even if they require that you make sacrifices, well, for yourself.

Your self-gifting might include splurging to buy those jeans in the right cut and color, those earrings with just the perfect bling, that lipstick and nail polish that match just so, but these aren’t the only things you can give yourself.

You can also give yourself intangible gifts, such as relief from those thoughts and feelings that disconnect you from yourself, thoughts for which you pay a high price, thoughts that weigh you down and cause you to doubt yourself (or worse, hate yourself).

Give yourself the gift of releasing your girly thoughts.

Gifting yourself through connecting . . . to you:

This is a time of year to begin to envision what your life would be like without your girly thoughts, those thoughts that demand you act within a very narrow band of acceptable looks and acceptable behavior, and promise dire consequences when you do not. A special gift to give yourself is to play with the possibilities of how wonderful your life can be when you free yourself from needing to be someone you are not.

Try these simple steps:

Begin to play with the possibilities . . .

  • Stay in touch with how you feel, not just with what you need to do. Listen to your inner voice. I know that what you need to do voice is the louder voice, especially now, but experiment with turning up the volume on your feeling voice.
  • Make a note on your phone or your computer, even on a piece of paper, about your feelings, and if you have time, about what you like and what you don’t.
  • Experiment with sharing how you feel with someone you trust, at least once, maybe even twice.

It’s easy to tell yourself “I don’t have time,” but you’re making time to read this, aren’t you? Guaranteed you have another five minutes in your day, somewhere, and giving yourself this time can be a gift in and of itself. And just imagine for a moment how much more connected to you will feel to you!

Now that’s some gift!

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

Be Strong and Shine for Your Children: The Impact of Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

and coming in 2014

Out Your Girls Thoughts and Embrace Your Strength workbook


Our children learn from us by the ways we act, what we eat, even how we dress. How many of us have found our daughters trying on our clothes or walking in our high heels? Using our make-up? Spraying on our perfume? How many of us have worked with our sons in the kitchen? Or noticed them picking up our facial expressions? So is it such a surprise that they would try on our language?

The Power of Our Words

They notice not only the language we use when we speak to them, but also the language we use to describe ourselves to our friends, our families, and even strangers we interact with. They notice how we mumble about wishing we hadn’t done something or how we would be “better” if we were different in some way.

The Impact of Our Girly Thoughts

So when we internalize our girly thoughts, those media-driven messages about how we should look and act that result in our feeling less than, those self-judgments come out of our mouths.

They have an impact. Not just on us, but also on our children.

The example we set is just one of the many influences that help to form our children’s opinions and values. Combine those with the impact of media—television, magazines, movies, the Internet, and those video games—and the influences of their friends and their other family members, and it is easy to see why our children feel inadequate and less than, no matter how accomplished they might actually be.

These influences are often so subtle that they are difficult to grab hold of, but they have a huge impact on both our children and us.

But We Now Have A New Tool

We can begin to make ourselves more aware of that negative inner dialogue—our girly thoughts—and challenge the messages.

We have new tool to help us do this, thanks to Pantene. In this new 60-second ad, they show the same actions of young men and women side by side along with the labels commonly used to describe these behaviors—and it is stunning!

http://mashable.com/2013/12/10/pantene-ad-philippines/#:eyJzIjoiZiIsImkiOiJfZjFpMjVsYTVudjEzYWppbCJ9

The Power of Labels

Men are depicted as persuasive, dedicated, neat, and smooth, while the same behaviors in women are seen as pushy, selfish, vain, or showing off. The double standard is palpable and is depicted so very well in a less than one minute.

Don’t Let Labels Hold Your Children Back—Here’s How:

This video is a great teaching tool, and I suggest you use it now. Show it to your children, or even your grandchildren and ask when they have heard these words used about their friends or themselves.

  • Ask how these words make them or their friends feel.
  • Ask if these are the best words to describe what they see.

Use these words as teaching tools, and explore them as you watch a show or read a story. Ask you son or daughter if the character is being:

  • pushy or persuasive
  • dedicated or selfish
  • vain or neat
  • smooth or a show-off

Then ask them how the character feels about the label.

Give Your Children Permission to Challenge Double Standards

Every time we take a step, make a correction, challenge our own thinking and actions or those of others, our children notice. This informs not only their thinking but also their actions, giving them our unspoken permission to also begin to challenge the double standard as they encounter it in their own lives.

Watch your language when you describe yourself. Don’t feed your children’s developing self-worth with girly thoughts.

Challenge those close to you if they try to slap you with an unkind and inaccurate label. Develop your conscious resilience and model it for your children so they have the tools with which to shape their own positive and healthy self-images.

Think about taking these small steps not only for you, but also for those you love. Not a bad way to end this year as we look to see what is ahead!

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

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And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Albany, and Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning including Lifescape Solutions in Delray Beach, Florida. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com

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Five Holiday Gifts for Your Daughter as You Teach Her to Challenge Her Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD,
author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (HCI, 2013)

Order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

What Are Girly Thoughts?
Your daughter is a girl, so isn’t she supposed to be thinking thoughts like a girl? Yes, but not these thoughts. Girly thoughts are the subtle conditioning that begins in girlhood and continues throughout life that results in women feeling less than. These are the thoughts that tell us how we should look and also pressure us with how we should act—well, like a girl, and not just any girl, but a popular girl.

Help Her Own Her Skills
So what’s your role as a mother who may be struggling with her own girly thoughts?

First and foremost, you want to help your daughter build her resilience consciously. Yes, even at a young age, your daughter is mastering a series of negative circumstances in life and is developing skills for dealing with them, skills that form the basis for how she will approach other challenges as she matures.

The trick for her is to own that she knows how to:

  • talk to a mean girl
  • study for a quiz
  • ask for what she wants/needs from you
  • handle her younger sibling’s tantrums
  • forge her own identity when she’s compared to an older sibling

. . . and the list goes on.

Yes, your daughter already has many skills. The trick is for her to consciously use them, for her conscious use of her skills will allow her skills to become part of her identity.

Consciously Using Her Resilience
The skill set we develop when we deal with difficult circumstances is called our resilience. And while we all have resilience, women often do not consciously walk around thinking of themselves as resilient because for many, this feels unfeminine or even unattractive. This notion that women cannot appear too resilient or too strong begins early.

Tips for Teaching Your Daughter Conscious Resilience
Since you are her greatest teacher, you need to model resilience for her. This means you need to own and consciously use your own resilience in your own life.

So take a moment and think about just what it is that you do. Then find moments to share your insights with her and point out the skills that you use to deal with difficult circumstances. How to do this? Start by saying out loud, “I managed this busy day by deep breathing,” or “I make a list and promising myself a reward when I’ve completed it,” or whatever it is you have done, and then:

  • share with her the skills you use throughout the day.
  • name the skills that you see her using in her own life.
  • point out the silliness of the ads in magazines, on TV, and in the movies that show photoshopped girls doing amazing things that are not real.
  • speak to her about her real life heroines (perhaps her grandmother, aunt, teacher, or even a classmate), women she knows who are struggling with a major challenge. Point out the skills they are using.
  • make a list of the skills she uses each day, and hang it on the refrigerator or her closet door.

Help her see herself as someone who is learning how to navigate life’s challenges by using her resilience. This is a sure way to help her be less influenced by the media’s peddling of their collective notion of who she should be and help her kick those girly thoughts to the curb.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page, just below “Recent Posts” or by clicking here:


 

And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Albany, and Saranac Lake, New York, is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and funny presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations in preventative and clinical strategic planning including Lifescape Solutions in Delray Beach, Florida. Dr. O’Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from clinical director of a child welfare agency to interim director of a crime victims organization to director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Learn more at http://patriciaogorman.com