Girly Thoughts at Age 3

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Sometimes we need a study to prove something we have known for a very long time—that we have been feeling bad about ourselves for as long as we can remember.

Read It and Weep

In an article originally published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention and blogged about by the British Psychological Association, researchers found that beginning as early as age three—before we even learn to read—we begin to understand that thin is good, thereby setting a standard for acceptability that proves to be damaging for a growing girl.

Why I Developed the Term Girly Thoughts

As a psychologist who works with women, I’ve seen a need to make the impact of these societal standards on women easier to identify and grasp. As I wrote in my book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan,

Your burgeoning girly thoughts were unconscious, and they’ve remained that way for the most part—until now. Your girly thoughts formed over time and through numerous sources of input, and they are reinforced every day through your family of origin, intimate relationships, friendships, business and professional influences, family pressures, and, most especially, media.

By putting a label on this negative, internal talk, you have a handle on the price you are paying by trying to live up to these impossible images of perfection.

Your Girly Thoughts Cause You Further Grief

It is also vital to realize the ways you internalize these messages into a toxic self-talk. Here are just a couple of ways you may be dramatically affected by your girly thoughts:


So many women experience depression. While hormonal changes, working a day job and coming home to what is essentially a second shift in the home can describe some of why women take their anger out on themselves, those don’t explain all of it. A missing piece to this puzzle is how society makes us feel so inadequate for not having the perfect body, beginning at age three!

Overeating + Overdrinking

Because the messages we receive are so toxic, women often self-medicate with food. Have you ever thought, It’s been a really hard day, and I’m overweight anyway, so why not have dessert? Has that glass of wine while you’re cooking dinner ever become most of the bottle? These attitudes can eventually lead to other problems such as weight gain and addiction, to name a few.

What You Can Do:

  • Stop thinking it’s just you. After a luncheon address I gave, a corporate executive told me, “I used to think it was just me. Now I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad to realize it’s all of us.”
  • Have fun naming and identifying girly thoughts during your next Girl’s Night Out. That will really help drive home the point that it is not just you.
  • Read The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power in your book club, and Skype me in for a fun discussion.
  • Speak to the young girls in your family about the assumptions they are making about their body shapes and sizes, and help them learn that their self-worth should not be based on their looks.

Join Me—Next Stops:

  • Grand Island, NE: April 30: I’ll be giving a workshop on “Trauma” from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and a speech over dinner titled “Girly Thoughts” from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • New York City, NY: May 17, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. “The Big Apple: Leadership and Girly Thoughts.”
  • Worchester, MA: June 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “Girly Thoughts and Addiction”
  • Lake Placid, NY: July 11, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Book signing at Bookstore Plus

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power