Digital Dreams and your 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

In case you think you are not really affected by the media, watch this short video. It shows a perfectly lovely young woman who is digitally altered—and I’m not speaking about the changes we all enjoy, like adding makeup and doing our hair. This is on a whole different level.

Here is a short, brilliant example of how we all chase the digital dream. The challenge we have is that we do not know we are dreaming, and we forget it is a digital dream—that means it’s been photoshopped. So we need to wake up! We need see this manipulation for what it is and understand what happens to us when we internalize these digital dreams of how we should look. If this video wasn’t so ridiculous and compelling, we’d all be tempted to laugh.

Digital Dreaming . . .

There are changes to the young woman’s facial features, cosmetic surgery-type changes. Her facial features are sculpted to the point where she doesn’t even look like herself; her shoulders are reshaped oh-so-subtly, and there is, of course, the mandatory tummy tuck and breast enhancement. Her torso is even elongated (which is still beyond the skill range of most surgeons, I think, but let me know if I’m wrong). You get the picture. Please watch it now.

This is a perfect example of what I address in my newest book, The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, where I give a name to these messages—the negative things we are encouraged to about ourselves—our girly thoughts. The result is that as you berate yourself for not being able to obtain these digital dreams; you use your personal power for everyone in your life but yourself. And if someone mentions how good you look, you tend to doubt that person’s sincerity. Talk about a no-win situation! It’s a trap for you and for those close to you.

The way out? Develop your conscious resilience so you can combat those girly thoughts, laugh at images like these, accept that the media’s message about beauty is digitally enhanced beyond reality, embrace your own perfection, and find more peace and joy in your life.

How to Wake UP . . .

  • First, recognize when you are looking at a digital dream.
  • When you get together with your girlfriends, start a conversation about the latest one you’ve seen.
  • If you are a mother, teacher, counselor, or neighbor, please point out the digital dream to your daughter, or niece, or the child in your class who is trying to copy some of these looks or is fretting about not being that tall, that thin, that pretty. Give them the term girly thoughts to describe this type of societally driven thinking, and help them avoid being sucked into this nonsense that robs them of developing their power.

Send in the images you find that are clearly digital dreams. I hope you’ll bookmark this article and come back often to post those you find in the comments. Let’s out these images that trip us up when we think of them as real, and let’s support each other in doing this.

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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