girl power

by Toni McGee Causey

There’s a difference between being cocky and being confident, but young girls aren’t often taught that the latter is theirs to have. The messages that abound in our media are often confusing and contradictory; with the advent of the divas all over TV (can there really be that many idiot so-called housewives who think they will ever come out looking good on one of those shows?)… and the wailing toddlers wearing tiaras on reality shows throwing Superbowl sized tantrums, and the bride shows that reward outrageously bad behavior, and the tremendous pressure to be sexy and alluring long before anything like that should even be a part of their conversation–we’re telling girls that they’re still objects, and whiny, bratty ones at that, but as long as they look good, they, too, can be famous/popular/rich. And that nothing else really matters.

These messages carry over so firmly into adulthood, that we rarely, as women, feel good saying, “I did that well,” or “I’m confident that effort I made was great.” If we’re confident? Someone inevitably thinks we’re up on our high horse and that we need to be knocked down, and we get that message so freaking often as girls, that it’s hard to just be quietly confident as an adult woman without second guessing oneself all of the time. (Did I look like a bitch when I said that? Did I sound like I was too full of myself? Did I, in other words, just turn myself into a target? I cannot tell you how many times that has run through my head when I have done something well, and knew it, and mentioned it.). [Deborah Tannen’s YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND underscores this, how girls socialize at a young age to try to make everyone “equal.” Very interesting book.]

I think girls are often taught to feel like misfits in our own bodies–we aren’t celebrated for what we can do (which we might have some control over), but are often celebrated (or berated and ostracized) for how we look (which we have very little superficial control over). [I could rant for hours on this alone. I deleted it. You’re welcome.]

And then sometimes you see a video where you see something you know you wouldn’t have seen even twenty years ago, and you think, it’s very possible girls are getting the message after all: be yourself. Be active. Do. You are impressive. Especially when an entire stadium of men–at the Army/Navy basketball game–end up giving them a standing ovation.

Girl power. It rocks. It gives me hope.

If you’re female, what lessons do you wish you’d learned as a kid? What would you go back and tell yourself, if you had the chance?

If you’re male, what misconceptions do you think women have about what men think about women? What would you say to your daughter to help them deal with the obstacles they may face as they grow up?

33 thoughts on “girl power

  1. Barbie

    How true on second guessing ourselves when we do something right, Toni. I think the main lesson I would teach myself — and I'm still learning that — is that I don't have to be perfect at everything. I was raised by a single mother obsessed with perfection, who never complimented me on what I did right, but always pointed out what I did wrong and suggested how I could improve my performance at whatever it was. It wasn't until last year, when I was beating myself up for a bad essay, that an English teacher told me, "Barbara, you don't have to be perfect." I instinctively replied, "Yeah, I do," But, later, I gave it some thought and realized I don't have to be perfect after all — I just have to be better than guys (ha!). No, really, trying my best is all I can do,

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Grace

    I would say that for most of my life I looked at what I did/accomplished as being not quite "good enough". Someone else did it much better, I should have spent more time, I'm wasting my time were the kind of remarks circulating in my head. And as far as appearance, what a hell hole that is – weight concerns, body shape, large ears, etc. Once again, not quite good enough. Now I sledgehammer those kind of thoughts whenever they pop up, sometimes laugh at them, other times feel sad, but yes, I agree, females still carry the wounds of what used to be 'a man's world'. I don't for one moment hold them to blame, after all, they were targets of socializtion as well as well and I don't think they had an easy road either.

    It is changing but it's slow. I tell my daughter to be strong no matter what,m for that it is what it takes. Thanks for the post – I don't usually rant this long, so it impacted.

  3. billie

    Nice post. I think, from the perspective of being a mom and a therapist to many children and teens over the years, that both girls and boys need active assistance in learning how to be what I call "in their own footprints." Which is where I think the true "power" lies – when we are grounded and centered in our selves, enough so that the external things don't have much power over us.

    This has to do with strength and confidence and also gentleness and kindness. And I think it's taught best by modeling: giving children respect, allowing and listening to their voices, and being willing to talk through their feelings with them as they approach and move into adolescence. Which isn't hard for them to do if they saw their parents doing it along the way.

  4. Kaye Barley

    Toni, I love this.
    I was a very (VERY) late bloomer. In all ways – physically, emotionally, socially – you name it. And it took me a long time to realize it, and to realize why, and to realize that it was okay. It wasn't wrong, it was just a little different. I was just a little different – always just a tad "off." Oddly enough, my best friends from my childhood recognized all this before I did and loved me anyway, and are still my best friends. All good, but Lordy I wish I had figured all this out when I was that awkward kid.

  5. B.E. Sanderson

    Excellent post, Toni. I'm sorry you deleted the rant. Sometimes I think we need to rant about things like this. I could rant right along with you, but I won't hijack the comments that way.

    One thing I wish I'd learned as a girl – instead of decades later – is that you don't need to be part of a couple to be whole. I wasted so many years looking for my other half – because I thought I needed someone else to 'complete me' – that I never saw I could grow into a whole person on my own. And once I did, life was so much richer. Now my daughter is 17 and about to head off to college. I hope I instilled her with the ability to be a strong, confident, whole person on her own.

  6. Alafair Burke

    I can't imagine how hard it must be to parent a girl these days. I hear so many young women who have learned to sound stupid, ending every sentence with a question mark for no other reason than to sound like every other bubblehead.

    I wish more girls would learn that uniqueness is good, that friends are more important than boyfriends, that healthy and thin are not synonymous.

  7. toni mcgee causey

    I'm sure guys suffer from the same sorts of contradictions and mixed messages and unrealistic expectations. I know they do–I have two sons.

    Barbie, I'm so glad you got that message! It's a hard one to internalize, but we have to keep reminding ourselves, we're just human. We're supposed to be different from one another. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Grace, love your comments–I'm so glad you posted. I have to sledgehammer those thoughts, too. It's hard to finish something and feel good about it and just sit back and enjoy that moment. As soon as I do, the thoughts swirl up that I'm probably overlooking something, I obviously need to go back and improve it, it couldn't possibly be good yet, etc. I'm still reminding myself to enjoy having completed the task and appreciate what I managed to accomplish!
    (LOL on the rant… I'll save that one for another day.)

  8. toni mcgee causey

    billie, I'm glad you responded, because I think you have unique insights into this. I completely agree with you on modeling–showing our daughters and, in my case, grand-daughter, that they are valued for who they are, that they are smart, etc., is critical and can't start early enough. I am worried, though, about the strong mixed messages she's already getting, at age 3, about looks and what's important in life. Has it been your experience as a therapist that strong role models within the family supports the child enough so that peer pressure is a distant issue? What would you say to a child who has had great role models, but still feels overwhelmed by the pressure of peers to devalue herself? (That may be too much to ask, in comments. I have no specific reason for asking–just curious.)

  9. toni mcgee causey

    Kaye, you and me, both. I still feel like that awkward kid, at times. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that I was going to end up loving my life, and thoroughly enjoying the people in it. That it was going to be just fine, quit fretting.

    B.E., thank you (re: rant). Feel free to hijack away. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As for the other point, about not having to be a part of a couple, I wish that was a required class / tattoo / life lesson / mantra–WHATEVER it would take to get through to younger girls and young women. I wish I could tell them to develop their own life, their own interests, because if no one person comes along, they'll have still had amazing lives. And the likelihood that they'll end up being more interesting to others greatly increases, anyway.

    Alafair said:

    "I wish more girls would learn that uniqueness is good, that friends are more important than boyfriends, that healthy and thin are not synonymous."

    Perfect. Much much better than I said it. Absolutely perfect.

  10. Dana King

    My daughter is a sophomore in college, and has been pretty much a straight-A student all her life. She's an only child, and my expectations for her were the same as they would have been for a son. Do your best, know you have love and support at home, and don't be afraid to fail. She's a perfectionist, so it's the last I may have had to spend the most time on, teaching her not to let perfect become the enemy of good.

    I can think of few times when she didn't just assume she'd be as good as a boy at something academic. She was going through a spell of "girls aren't as good at math" once when we took a cross country car trip, so I made her figure the gas mileage in her head, to within a gallon. Taught her how to do estimates, and little trick about how dividing in your head is really just multiplying, but from a different direction. I only did this because she had shown herself to be capable; I don;t believe in throwing children into deep water and hoping they'll swim.

    Now she's majoring in Romance Languages, with a pre-med concentration. What I'm happiest about is that it never seems to have occurred to her that being a surgeon was a "man's" field, because men are allegedly better at science and math. She does quite nicely, thank you, and I couldn't be prouder.

  11. Kerry

    Beautiful, Toni, and great comments.

    I wish I had been taught as a child that being slightly pudgy and athletic was OK (this was pre-Title IX; athletics for girls were non-existent). I was in my late 30's before I began to release my inner athlete and to love my body for its abilities rather than hating it for the way it looked (just as you wrote, Toni!).

    I didn't plan things this way, but my daughter started her martial arts training when she was 12. She was also slightly pudgy, but strong, flexible, and absolutely fearless. She learned that important lesson early. I remember the day she came home and proudly announced that she could do more pushups than the boys in her gym class. To this day, she enjoys beating up the guys in her Muay Thai classes ๐Ÿ™‚

    One of my biggest epiphanies came when I attended my first all-women martial arts camp. I saw women of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes embodying excellence – physical, mental, and spiritual. You don't have to look athletic and toned to be powerful in your body, much less in your mind and heart.

    I'm glad I learned that lesson.

  12. Eika

    I'm female, and overall I have some confidence; my main thing is I'm constantly saying 'I'm good, but not good enough.'

    Squashing those thoughts are hard. On the one hand, it's a sort of spur to be better, but at the other, I never want to go for things that are a bit of a stretch, because I'm not good enough yet. Oy.

    I majorly agree on the looks thing, though. I'd join you in the rant in a heart beat. (And then some- the dermatologist in high school called me the worst case he'd ever seen, and while it's improved in the past four years, I am still regularly approached by barely-known acquaintances or even complete strangers asking me if I've considered a dermatologist!)

  13. billie

    Toni, good question. What I see is that when the anchor is there (the strong role modeling by the parent – and also other family members hopefully) the peer pressure still acts but with that foundation/anchoring, there is something to hold on to when needed – I think of it as something they can hang onto when they lose their footing. It's much easier when it starts early than when you try to plug it in when they are nearing adolescence – although I have done that as a therapist quite successfully with teen clients. It's almost always true that they have things they feel they can't talk to their parents about – and almost invariably, it has to do with peers and with finding their solid ground in the sea of external influence.

    I admit, we in my immediate family have escaped the worst of the peer pressure by homeschooling. I see much less peer pressure among the hs'ed peers my children have – they tend to respect each other's differences and for the most part are very independent thinkers and appreciate that in others.

    There's a good book that looks at this bigger issue but I am blanking on the title/author and after a few Google attempts am still not finding it. It looks at the importance of the parental relationships and the familial relationships – and takes a much different view of peer relationships than has been the norm – with the idea that we as a society have placed a huge amount of importance on children and teens' peer relationships – to the point we have made them so important they DO have a lot of power. To some degree we did this when we put them in school for so many hours a day with only a few adults to balance the scales.

    The most important thing imo is that children grow up *experiencing* that their parents (and if not parents, then trusted adults in some context) are there to talk to – about silly things, fun things, serious things, scary things. If this is true all along, it will shift some as they age but they will continue to use the skill with their peers AND will continue talking to parents.

    A couple of examples I feel at liberty to share is that when my two were young (4 and 6 or so) they had a young friend (also 6) who they played with quite a bit. One day she told them they were going to hell if they were not Christian. Even at that young age my son had developed his own idea about religion and he informed her he was not Christian and was not going to hell. This created quite a debate among the 3 of them and they all came running in to tell me they could no longer be friends because of this extreme disagreement in belief. The friend was nervous about "telling me" – she thought she would get in trouble – but my two assured her I was going to listen and help.

    We sat down and had a good talk about what friendship actually means. I.e. that it isn't that we have to believe all the same things. You could see on all three faces the utter relief that they could each have their belief about God and heaven and hell but still be friends!

    Another time they came to me with a young friend b/c she had accidentally told them she was in therapy because of sexual abuse and then was ashamed about that. They wanted her to know, from me, that I worked with kids who'd been abused and that in our family, therapy was a GOOD thing.

    I could list countless examples of things they have come to me to "talk about" over the years, right up to yesterday. They are now 16 and 13 and they both know, from actual experience, that we can talk about anything. I think that knowledge and history of experiencing me as a listener and active parent is a safety net for them when they encounter obstacles with the peers – things that left undiscussed could have a profound effect on them.

    I didn't say this in my earlier comment but the opposite sex parent is often very important in the development of children – we think of boys needing their fathers, and they do – but girls learn a lot about their confidence and self-esteem and boundaries from their interactions with their fathers. And sons from their mothers.

    I also have to toss this in – my daughter came out of the womb loving horses but even for girls that don't have that intense connection early on, horses during the teen years can be incredibly therapeutic. A way for the girls to deal with big energy and to learn and practice setting boundaries AND their strength – that is not always the sheer brute strength you might imagine one would need.

    I'm completely rambling at this point – hopefully a few lines of this will make sense! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. MJ

    Great post. I'm a female only child (40 ish) and was raised to believe that I could do anything. Like my parents (mostly like my Mom) I was OK with being myself and didn't mind that being a nonconformist meant that I'd only ever have a few friends at one time (or that in a private girl's Catholic high school – an exclusive one – being "me" meant that I would be relegated to the "reject table" at lunch, with the poor kids, the non-Catholics, the geeks, the budding bisexual athlete and the handicapped girl…oh well, we've probably had better, more honest lives since then anyway….).

    In any case, as a pudgy kid I wish I'd tried things like martial arts or sports that I would have enjoyed, instead of ballet (Mom might have been an iconclast but she did hold tightly to gendered ideas of what was right for girls, and what was pretty and graceful v "manly" and ugly). I also wish that I'd done a better job of understanding just how unpopular my "being myself" would make me when I entered male-dominated workplaces. I allowed myself to feel beaten down nearly to death, and gave up my power for a while, in the face of the hatred and disdain, and I wish I could go back and kick them all back in the teeth (metaphorically) in response. I'm never giving up my power to a workplace or cluster of old fart idiots again.

    In fact, I need to find another way to be a businessperson and lawyer that allows my gender to either be an asset or a neutral instead of a mark of defectiveness, because I can't "go along and get along" with certain cultures much longer. Wish me luck!

    Oh, I also wish that my Mom had told her father to shut up when I was a kid – he saw women as either boring broads or hot and sexy, and I got tired of the stories about how great hot strippers were, and how a woman needed to drip sexuality to be a real woman. I didn't internalize any of it, but maybe I'd have been less hostile to my family over the course of my life if he hadn't been such an open pig and my usually ferocious Mom hadn't turned into a clinging, rejected 5 year old when he was around.

  15. toni mcgee causey

    Kerry, what a terrific example! I love martial arts, especially for the reasons you listed: you get centered in your own body, in what you are and can do, instead of what you're not and can't do. Such an important lesson for us all. I love that your daughter has discovered this already!

    Eika, I'm just gobsmacked over the comments from strangers/acquaintances. That's just mind-boggling. I've had a different-but-slightly similar experience in that I'm really really pale, if I haven't been in the sun. (And then, my "tan" is barely as dark as other people's "normal.") I cannot tell you how frequently I've had people walk up to me and suggest I get a little sun, or ask me, point blank, if I'm feeling well. I've had several people ask me if I have leukemia (I honestly don't know why they randomly picked that one) or if I'm anemic (slightly more understandable). When the answer is, simply, I'm pale. Even if I tanned allllllllll summer long and was dark as a berry, two weeks later? I'd be pale again.

    hmmm. Although with all the vampire popularity lately, I haven't had that question as much. Now I don't know whether to be relieved or worried about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But I'm with you on the impulse sometimes to hold back until I feel like I'm "good enough." It's akin to feeling like you need someone's permission (not any specific "someone"–just…. permission, somehow) to pursue something above your current status. Which I realized as a young adult was bunk and negative self-talk and I ejected it, but that's not to say I don't catch myself in that same pattern occasionally. Frustrating how that happens.

  16. J.D. Rhoades

    Great post, Toni. One of the things I've tried to drum into my daughter from an early age is "don't you ever dumb down for anybody." And she doesn't. It gave her some angst when she was fretting that she wasn't going to ever have a boyfriend because everyone though she was a "brain" and there were those she said called her "stuck up" (which she most assuredly is NOT) because she wasn't a bubblehead who only talked about clothes and gossip. Thankfully, she stayed the course. Now she's got great grades, is on the track team, and has a boyfriend that respects her (he damn well better).

  17. J.D. Rhoades

    Oh, and let me second the recommendation of co-ed martial arts for girls AND guys…let me tell you, you learn a lot of respect for women that way.

    Worst beating I ever took was from this adorable little curly haired girl who barely came up to my chin. I was probably grinning at her when I stepped into the ring, she was so damn cute with her pony tail and her little "kiai."

    Unfortunately for me, she'd originally trained in ballet.

    She leaped straight up off the mat like the goddamn Tasmanian Devil and spin kicked me so hard she knocked me down. I mean, I was seeing little birds and stars circling around my head like in the cartoons.

    The sensei came over, looked me over to make sure she hadn't broken my jaw, and said, "okay, Miss Jones, that was too much contact. But Mr. Rhoades, you deserved it for laughing at her. Get up." I got up, took my beating like a man, and learned my lesson.

  18. Allison Brennan

    I grew up an only child with my mom–my father walked out before I was born. Good riddance. I never had issues growing up that I wasn't good enough or pretty enough or whatever. I was also very naive, and had an idealistic vision of what relationships were because I didn't see the ups and downs on a daily basis.

    So I always believed I could do anything, but as with many women, I tried to do everything–work full-time, raise a family, be a wife–and felt guilty when I slacked off somewhere. I felt guilty if I didn't take care of everyone else's needs before mine. I don't know WHERE I got that, and I have (mostly) gotten over it. I think it came subliminally when I was working outside of the house because my kids were in day care, and I did feel guilty over that.

    One thing I wish I had learned earlier was that there are double-standards for men and women. Most of them subliminal. That when you're a working mom (especially outside the house) half of the men and women in the world will look down on you as if you are inferior, and when you bust your butt to spend as much time with the kids, you get no kudos or credit because you're the mom and it's expected. But if you're the dad and working full time, when you want to spend more time with the kids and bust your butt to do it, everyone thinks you're the best father on the planet.

    My daughters–and sons–are growing up to believe they can do or be anything they set their minds to. That it might be hard to achieve their goals, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't work hard and make sacrifices if that's what they really want.

  19. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Beautiful post, Toni. I'm a bit obsessed with issues of self-confidence, issues that lead to compulsive and addictive behavior, and it's really apparent that societal influences have very specific effects on young women. There's a rather intense documentary I've seen called "Thin," about women in a treatment center for severe eating disorders. It's haunting and illuminating at once. American culture is so much like high school, or maybe that's just human nature. There's a pack mentality that puts expectations on its members to "fit in." For this reason I'm very happy we are homeschooling our boys. I've always been a bit on the outside looking in, and I prefer it that way. I think a lot of writers fit into that category.

  20. judy wirzberger

    Wow. the ultimate accomplishment–a room full of men telling women they did an excellent job.

    I wish I would have learned to be myself not to find out what some guy wanted so I would know who to be.

  21. toni mcgee causey

    Judy, I took it more as the fact that the men went from sort of being uninterested in what the girls did–a stereotypical male response to the idea of seeing a "jump rope" team at half time–to an actual appreciation for what they were accomplishing and how much athleticism and poise it took for them to accomplish that girl. So frequently we see women applaud male sports, but we do not see the opposite happening; this, to me, said times are changing overall. Those girls clearly do not *need* the men to approve. It's just nice to see that they wowed the audience, which happened to be made up of a demographic which is not the obvious target to appreciate "jump rope" as a sport.

  22. Kim C

    Wow. That was amazing. Got a little choked up.

    Iโ€™d go back and tell myself that as long as Iโ€™d done my best, I needed to be proud of what Iโ€™d accomplished, and not to worry about what others may or may not say in recognition of that accomplishment.

    Growing up there always seemed to be someone trying to knock me off my high horse, as you put. A lot of people thought I was a snob, to put it mildly. In fact, I was painfully shy. I tried hard at everything I did, was proud of myself when I did a good job and gleeful when someone told me so. Of course that inevitably led to someone else calling me a name. I wasnโ€™t walking around with my nose in the air, but I kept to myself and that led others to believe that I thought I was better than them. I never thought that. I always felt unworthy of their friendship. It became a vicious cycle โ€“ one that had started with my father.

    When I played sports as a kid, every game or match was followed by a car ride home in which my father told me everything I'd done wrong. He thought he was being a good coach. I had a coach. I didnโ€™t need another. If ever I heard 'good game' or 'good match' it was immediately negated by the long list of things I could have done better. After a while I stopped participating in sports all together. There was no fun in constantly being told you were doing something wrong. I switched my focus to music and academics. I was desperately searching for something I was good at, something for which my father would praise me, of course I didnโ€™t realize that at the time. I never found it. Hell, even though I know heโ€™s proud of what Iโ€™ve accomplished as an adult, his commentary on my job: 'itโ€™s fun, easy, why are you always so stressed?' Iโ€™ve come realize that heโ€™s never going to get it. Unfortunately, Iโ€™ve also realized I never did shed the need for that โ€˜atta girl.โ€™ I only transferred it to other male figures in my life. Talk about unhealthy. I think Iโ€™ve finally gotten past the need for it. Finally.

    Advice to fathers: criticism must be balanced with praise. You are a girlโ€™s first โ€“ and most important โ€“ interaction with the male of our species. Everything you say to your daughter will shape her view of herself. Everything.

  23. Lance C.

    "If you're male, what misconceptions do you think women have about what men think about women?"

    Most men aren't as hung up on looks as women think they are. Look around at the couples you see on the street or in the mall if you don't believe me. Sure, we enjoy looking at Halle Berry, the same way women enjoy looking at Hugh Jackman. However, most of us learn early on that a beautiful bitch isn't worth the trouble, especially when there's a surplus of nice-enough-looking women who are pleasant to be around.

    On the other hand, I've noticed that women are far more judgemental about how other women look/dress/act. The fashion industry isn't run by straight men — it's run by women and gay men, who clearly have little idea what straight men think is attractive. Many of the previous comments have discussed the toxic effects female relatives or friends have had on the writer. Yes, teenage boys can be clueless oafs and can be a blight on a girl's formative years, but most of us do grow up. It often seems that as women age, they learn how to be even more cruel to each other.

    Boys growing up have the same problems, just with different spins. We learn that real men kill things. We learn that women value us only for our wallets. We learn that only assholes get the girl. Some of it is downloaded from our male relatives and friends, while some of it comes from those psychotic creatures known as teenage girls. Just as advertising and the media demand women be beautiful to the exclusion of all else, men are required to be wealthy to the exclusion of all else. We do ourselves no favors by listening too hard to these messages.

    To those of you who are raising your daughters to be strong and confident and sensible: bravo! It's about time. There's nothing more attractive than confidence. Do your best to help them believe that, and you give them a lifetime gift.

  24. TerriMolina

    Wow…that was an awesome video!

    I agree with you on the whole reality TV thing and I constantly tell my girls that's NOT how you behave! Especially in public. I've also hammered into their heads that the choices they make as a teenager will affect them the rest of thier lives, so make wise choices. (I've also put the fear of Me in them…haha)

    I was raised by a single parent (my father worked on an oil tanker/ship (?) and was gone more than he was home, he died when the ship exploded..I was eight. Four years later my mom died and I was raised by my aunt, who, herself was a widow with five older children). Anyway…my aunt was raised "old school" by traditional Mexican parents…women stayed home and had babies, the men worked and did whatever the hell they wanted. So, expectations were pretty low for me (and my siblings). Were it not for public school I don't think I'd have realized women had potential to do or be more.

    I have four children, two boys, two girls. I've always told them they can be whoever or whatever they want as long as they believe it. I told them not to let anyone or anything define who they are and to make themselves happy first. While this advice is good for three of my children, it's a bit of a slippery slope for my daughter Amanda (19) because she's disabled…not severly, but enough to limit her from going for what she wants. There are some things she's not physically or mentally capable of doing (like living independently or dating—she has friends, but boys are….put off, I guess.). Sometimes it bothers her because her sister is very social and outgoing, but I try to tell her she doesn't need a man to be complete and she has a lot of friends and family who love her because she's her. Right now she's a freshman in college, going for an associate's degree in early childhood education and I think it'll be a great career for her (she loves children and they understand her and don't judge).

    Happy anniversary to your parents, Toni! 50 years! That's awesome!!

  25. Zoรซ Sharp

    Hi Toni

    Wish your parents a very happy golden wedding anniversary from us!

    Great post. I have always felt the odd-one-out. I've always been interested in things that seemed to be more male-dominated pursuits – sailing, cars, motorcycles, construction. I suppose my only 'girlie' interest was horses. I've always had it in the back of my mind that being pretty didn't matter because at least I was ferociously bright.

    But of course, being British, I don't like to hype myself up at all ;-]

  26. Debbie

    I believe that this is my only gender specific parenting advice: "Raise your sons to act towards women the way you want your daughters to be treated."

  27. Debbie

    Just spotted this online when I went to check in on FaceBook. Thought I'd share it here:
    "TO DESIRE the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness."
    ~~C.S. Lewis

  28. Mit

    My mother is fixated on body appearance. In her world everything (friendships, career, male relatioships) would be "better", if I were "my perfect weight". It really doesn't matter how smart or capable you are … "you'll add barriers to your success if you are overweight."

    Also? You can ALWAYS do better. ALWAYS.ALWAYS.ALWAYS. Even if you have no natural talent or ability (ie: sports). If you aren't doing well, it's because you aren't trying (Math & Spelling), not because you lake natural affinity/ability. Or because, "I guess that's just not your strong suit." But it's never okay. You should be skilled at everything. And so you are lacking.

    My Dad was great. Never told me I couldn't/shouldn't do something (auto-shop/commodity brokering/agriculture.) However … men are only interested in ONE-THING … and you should never trust them. And if they appear to like you, it's only because of the "one-thing". And if you give it to them outside of marriage, you are a slut.

    And from both of them, "Don't call attention to yourself." Don't laugh loud/smile big/make a comment/critique something … because, "WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?!?"

    So what I would go back and tell me (over and over – so the message was louder than what they were telling me) is:
    There are things you'll NEVER be good at. IT'S OK.
    Figure out where your talents are … and then spend your energy there.
    "Natural Talent" DOES NOT equal "easy". You must work hard (and you might not succeed/be the best) to become good in your area of talent.
    Your talent isn't gender/personality specific. (ie: Girls can be mechanical, guys can be fashion designers, nice people can be logical thinkers/strategic/bottom-line-comes-first type people and still be 100% Male/Female)
    If people only want to be associated with you because you are pretty/thin/fashionable/wicked-smart … and not because of your personality – kindness – ability to be a good friend – then you DON'T WANT/NEED to be their friend.
    You can be successful – and still not be adulated by everyone. That's ok. Success is only empty when you are alone/NO ONE likes you.
    Finally – "Be YOU and be unique! It's more interesting (and easier) than trying to be someone else/something you are not. And you'll be happier/more successful."
    </therapy session>

  29. Eve

    I love this! The video was wonderfully uplifting. I hope girls everywhere are learning to speak up when they do something well. Now if we could just get some of us old folks to do the same. Yessiree, the problem is worse the older you get. The minute you step out of the prescribed way you are judged as being weird and anti-social.

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