Suicide and Girly Thoughts — Five Ways Get Off this Merry-Go-Round


New data documents that the suicide rate in the United States has surged to the highest level in nearly thirty years, with increases in every age group except older adults, and “the rise was particularly steep for women.”

Why Are Women’s Suicide Rates Up?

Here are the more obvious answers to what is stressing women:

  • More women in the workplace
  • Divorce has increased
  • More women are single heads of households
  • More working women as single heads of households
  • Women continue to make less than men in the same fields creating economic hardship

But those answers don’t tell the full story.

Depressing Girly Thoughts

The list above is not complete. To fully understand what is making women feel defeated, we need to add that the very image of the Perfect Woman has changed:

  • Marilyn Monroe was a size 10–12; today’s models are a size 2
  • Everything is photoshopped, resulting in a corporate image of beauty
  • Where models don’t resemble real women, in fact they may not even look like themselves.
  • Women have responded, and plastic surgery is becoming more of a norm

And this image of the perfect woman is relentlessly brought to you everywhere via digital media to remind you of who you “should” be . . .

None of us can control what comes into our minds. Daily—even hourly—we all receive reminders of how we are not meeting societal standards for our looks and actions. And how can we not respond to this media flood and internalize this into our own toxic mix? 

It’s no wonder we think thoughts—I’ve named them girly thoughts—that aren’t helpful to feeling good about ourselves, and can even cause us to hate ourselves.

You control how long your girly thoughts stay around. You do not have to allow them to live in your mind rent free, taking up space and making your feel depressed.

Five Ways Get Off the Merry-Go-Round.

Want to stop the vicious cycle that makes you feel bad about yourself? Try this:

  • Identify sources of girly thoughts that cause you to doubt yourself.
  • Ignore what is triggering you to think in this way.
  • Challenge yourself every time you are thinking a girly thought. Tell this thought to get lost; say, “You’re not helpful”; think a positive thought instead.
  • Speak to your girlfriends about girly thoughts so you have support in challenging them and some fun at laughing together at how they are everywhere.
  • And if you find yourself feeling depressed, seek professional help from a mental health professional.

No, you do not need to let these societal messages tear you apart. You deserve better!

Photo courtesy of

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.New data documents that the suicide rate in the United States has surged to the highest level in nearly thirty years, with increases in every age group except older adults, and “the rise was particularly steep for women.”

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